Hoop Camp 2009
Trip Start Sep 20, 2009
6Trip End Oct 11, 2009
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I have been sitting at this internet cafe, time on my computer ticking away, trying to think of a way to explain my Hoop Camp experience. Words like epic, intense, joyful and emotional come to mind, but it's really hard to know where to begin.
So, in classic storytelling style, I'll begin at the beginning.
I arrived at HoopCamp in the boiling heat of the day. Dropped off my bag and hoops at our 'rustic' cabin, which was definitely not as bad as I had expected. Shared the room with three other women - all from different parts of America.
We began the camp with an opening circle. Every one of the 140 hoopers got up and introduced themselves and shared their intention for the weekend. I had a few personal goals, not all of which I shared with the group. The first was to feel the same amazing joy and flow that I get when hooping alone, but in a group environment. I often find that I have to 'perform' for people watching, which gets in the way of my personal enjoyment of the movement. The other goals involved tricks - I wanted to nail the chest roll (flicking the hoop from one hand to another in a roll across the chest) and pizza toss (throwing the hoop from your waist horizontally upwards and catching on your waist again) . And the final goal was to connect with people, to share, to learn and to make friends.
The first workshop of the day was run by Baxter of the Hoop Path. We hooped blindfolded to amazing music, dancing with our bodies, our hands and our minds. His voice was rhythmic, almost musical and the affirmations he used were powerful and strong. One that stood out to me was that hooping is about how good you can feel - not how good you can look or how many tricks you can do. He said that some of his best hooping experiences would probably be very boring to watch, but to him, it felt amazing.
The next workshop was by Candice from Shine Coaching. We had a big group discussion about what hooping has done for each of us. For some, it has given them the confidence to explore other things, to say yes to opportunities instead of no, to stop feeling self conscious, to be more in tune with their bodies. For others, it can be a love hate relationship, bringing up feelings of jealousy and a hopelessness that they could never be as good as others. I enjoyed listening to the group bounce off each other and found it reassuring that some of my own fears, insecurities and concerns were brought up and discussed as a normal part of the hooping journey. The most valuable thing I took from this workshop was Candice's point about saying yes instead of no. For example, I might be saying no to going out on the town on a saturday night with my friends, and feel guilty about doing that. But if I reframe that as saying yes to a comfy bed, treating myself well and spending time to decompress, it's a positive. Maybe this is obvious to most of you, but as someone who often experiences FOMO (fear of missing out), this was relevant, useful and actually very liberating.
That night we had a performance evening, watching incredible people do incredible things. I'm not going to go through them all individually, but we had hoopers, poi-sters, dervish spinners, singers and much more. Suffice to say, my mind was suitably blown.
Then onto the great field for some more hooping. Wow. Remember my goal about finding my flow in a group environment? Well I knocked that over pretty quick. I rocked out with my psihoops, in my zone, in my own world and I felt amazing. The music was pumping, sweat was dripping and I couldn't wipe the smile from my face. It was about 1am when I decided to go to bed. As much as I was enjoying myself, I knew it was going to be a big day in the morning.
So the next morning (after a cold shower, grrr), we were fed an enormous breakfast. Side note, hooping all day and all nights takes a lot of energy and we needed carbs! Onto the first workshop with Stephan and Megan the Cat from GrooveHoops. What fun! They were all about the campy tosses and fun throws. I learned a lot, perfected a few moves and remember that goal about the pizza toss? Tick and tick!
Then onto Revolver's workshop on knee hooping. I really admire Revolver, particularly the way she develops and plays with fun characters (check her youtube vids for the final countdown show and you'll see what I mean). She taught me a few cool stepping out tricks and wowed us all with an interesting move she calls the Tootsie roll.
Then onto Shakti's class on mini twin hoops. I have to say, with my dodgy thumbs and RSI in my wrists, I'm not supposed to be playing with these little guys. It's pretty painful so I mainly watched this class rather than participating in it. I did like that she suggested minis were a form of crosstraining, a way to excite the brain and learn new ways of moving that can be applied to a bigger hoop.
After lunch I checked out Anah and Jamie's class, on slowing down the hoop and hoop fitness. Really enjoyed Anah's encouragement to breath while hooping. I do often rush, spinning from one trick into the next, and while that can be a whole lot of fun, I discovered that slowing down is an artform in itself. Watching Anah's body slink around inside a big hoop, making tiny slow movements while dancing to the music was just mesmorising. And then Jamie's half class on hoop fitness got me going again. Lunging, squatting and pliaing while hooping got that heartrate up and I'm pretty sure I burnt off that lunchtime brownie.
After those classes and in the heat I did try to check out a few other classes, by the hoopgirl allstars, Michelle and Unity, but I was so exhausted. I said yes to my bed and had a little nanna nap and then a swim. Bliss!
That night I watched some beautiful twin firehooping and then followed Merlin down into the redwoods to play with psihoops. Over 60 glowing lights spinning among the forest was intense and magical. I carried that intensity onto the dancefloor and once again found my flow. I danced my ass off and exhausted myself.
Began the morning by sleeping in, but luckily I made the end of breakfast. Headed out to Rich's workshop on isolations, something I'd really been looking forward to. But unfortunately my hands had really swollen from all the hooping the night before and I was in pain. I sat and watched the magic. I also mainly watched Safire's playful workshop and then had a bit of a dance in Miss Rosie's class, but leaving my hands to rest.
Troy, the resident masseus was the one who saved me. He worked on my hands, massaging and healing, and I felt so much better afterwards.
The day ended with a workshop on hoopyoga by Kara from Mandala Hoops. I really connected with her previously in the day, and I love her flowing, graceful and sweet style of hooping. Energy sapped, I mainly watched Cristabel's workshop which involved balloons, cups and other interested props.
After the closing ceremony I jumped in the car with Safire, Carla and Gail and we had a picnic at the Lighthouse in Santa Cruz.
Reading back over this entry, I realise I haven't mentioned so many things. The amazing friends I made (Beth from the HoopPath gets a special mention for being so fantastic and teaching me the elusive chest roll), the clothes I bought, the acroyoga flying and so much more.
The lessons I've learned in such a short time, not just in hooping but in life, in relationships and in joy, will take a lot longer than three days to process, absorb and digest. But I can already feel them soaking in.
For the next 5 days I will be at the Harbin Hoop Camp retreat, doing just that - soaking in hot springs, hooping it out and generally enjoying life.
Thank you to my hooping family for being so amazing. Hoop Camp 09 rocked my world. And now, I must go and recline in the Californian sun and listen to the birds.