First half of Mindcamp XIV

The forecast for this part of Ontario was rather favourable when I looked at it before I left Fort McMurray.  However, Mother Nature had different plans as just under two hundred people prepared to walk from the Court building to the main theatre in the Centennial building.  The clouds emptied their contents in a way that inspired several of us to go to the windows to capture the beautiful abstracted view of the outside view it created.

"Find someone with an umbrella and make your way over to the main theatre," announced Tim.

I grabbed my bag and made a dash through puddles that were a lot deeper than they first appeared.  By the time I made it to the opening, I was soaked to the bone.  It didn't matter.  I was at Mindcamp, a place where adversity is the mother of innovation, and unforgettable fun.

I've been coming to Canada's creativity conference for five years now.  Many of the faces have become so familiar and instantly friendly.  Hugs are commonplace, as are intriguing conversations and personal insights.

I felt the need to start painting yesterday, so I began my project to paint Mindcamp stalwarts who are not with us this year for reasons related to health.  First of my list was Joe Miguez from New Jersey.  Joe is the annual creator of the Mindcamp "Lab", or labyrinth.  He recently had surgery yet still gave instructions from his hospital bed for Peter H. and Peter Z. to create the lab in his absence. I had a strong sense that I needed to paint Joe before coming to Mindcamp, though I didn't know he was not well.  News of his surgery confirmed my instinct.

Mindcamp, for presenters, actually started the day before, on Tuesday.  We typically arrive one full day before the rest of the attendees.  That evening I participated in an improv session.

"I have always had a fear of improv," I shared.  "It's time to overcome that fear."

For the first time ever I was able to experience the reality that improv is not about performance; it is about being present and reacting in the moment.  I found myself hopping up with enthusiasm with increasing frequency and enthusiasm as the evening session went along, volunteering to be a part of a scene.

On the second evening, I went to a session on creative design facilitated by Cecilia Yau.  I have been coming to Mindcamp for five years and ever so slowly I have become closer and closer to Cecilia.  However, I had not jumped into any of her presentations.  I felt strongly that the time had come.  I also realized why I probably had hesitated for so long.

Cecilia always has these really big textbook-looking books on sale at the Mindcamp marketplace.  I instantly associated her presentations with theory and loads of content.  What I experienced was totally different than what I feared.  Cecilia is a lady, small of frame, quiet and contemplative.  So, imagine my surprise when she lit up the room with passion, enthusiasm, and activities and content that made me wish the session went on all night.

I need to stop and explain something.  The master schedule of Mindcamp XIV can be found in a number of places.  It is on the website, available through an app, and displayed on a huge table taped to the wall in "The Hub", the main gathering place for attendees, and the place from which I am typing this blog post.  In years past, I would meticulously study the program, hem and haw over what sessions to attend, and make a detailed plan.  This year I haven't read the program, nor made any plans.  Prior to each session block, I go up to the wall, glance at the titles and at the name of the presenters, and then tune into my body.  That method led me to Tim and Laura's session yesterday on Leadership.

They spent a lot of time talking about VAE - Vision, Align and Execution.  While Tim and Laura kept talking about it being a "model", they kept using words.  Much like many deep thinking processes that I have been involved in, I translated the "model" into a visual metaphor.  And much like those many deep thinking processes, I eventually reached a point when I had to share it.

They also brought in the CPS model, or CPS.  I didn't have time to turn it into a visual metaphor, but I know I will...eventually.  I enjoyed the discussion and the activities, and I enjoyed seeing Tim and Laura in action.  They are amazing people.

The structure of Mindcamp had changed in a couple of significant ways this year.  First of all, there are a series of concurrent Mind U sessions that start each day.  I am leading one of those; it's called "Painting Your Life".  We have our first 75 minute session yesterday and successfully sketched out a portrait of Albert Einstein on canvas.  Today, we'll spend 75 minutes adding paint.  It should have entertaining.

The other structural change is an additional day to the conference and a daily "Open Space", when attendees can do whatever they want to do: swim, kayak, sail, paddle board, etc.  I chose to finish my painting of Joe Miguez.  It was time well spent.


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