Unicamp is a Unitarian Universalist camp that is committed to providing a safe and welcoming seasonal camp and spiritual retreat to a diverse community. We are in the process of reviewing our short and long-term planning goals in order to ensure that Unicamp continues to respond to the needs of the Unitarian Community. Your suggestions will be used to help shape programs and services provided at Unicamp.
We would be delighted if you could spare a few minutes of your time to fill out the following survey. Participants should be at least 12 years old. All information collected will be kept confidential. Survey submissions will be accepted until Sunday MAY 12. The results of the survey will be posted in a follow up newsletter.
Thank you in advance for your feedback. It is much appreciated.
Unicamp’s amazing Administrative Manager, Wanda Gordon, is stepping down June 7.
This is a VERY partial list of Wanda’s many, many achievements and contributions at Unicamp:
Fundraising for several summers for wood stoves in the Program Centre and the Dining Hall by creating amazing works of art for raffles: handmade bears, drums, bags, hats, stools, turned bowls and garments.
Upgrading our water purification and testing system
Researching and purchasing dishwashing units in the dining hall
Sourcing and overseeing installation of large tents on the Common
Building and refurbishing Admin 1 and 2
Upgrades to computer systems and software
Keeping in constant communication with everybody
Proposal, implementation, and planning of the staff village
Organizing and managing banking, savings and insurance, self insurance policies
Organizing and overseeing installation of the solar panels
Visioning and implementing for the future of Unicamp
Keeping exhaustive year to year lists on plans for the future
Small kindnesses like freezies for children, and cookies for the Board
Helping campers understand the registration form
We will miss these daily interactions in our lives at Unicamp…
But Wanda is staying with us as a seasonal camper, so be sure to thank her in person when you see her!
Mixed Media and Printmaking Monday 10-1pm from April 8 – June 17
(10 weeks/30 hours of instruction)
All materials are included in the price $430 members $510 non members
This course will have themes revolving around colour, abstraction and introspection. Collage and print techniques will be melded together including Relief print, monoprint and silkscreen reduction
(on the web site go to purchase tickets to buy a course, when on the education section this course says it is full it IS NOT FULL but won’t let you buy a course this way)
Introduction to Everything Wednesday 7-10 pm from April 10 – May8 (5 weeks/15 hours instruction)
All materials are included in the price $200 members $265 non members
This workshop explores collage in its rawest form, work in chalk, pastel, ink, paint, watercolour, pencil, relief and printmaking to make a fabulous mosaic. Technique and material use will be dominant in this course.
Mixed Media and Printmaking Tuesday 10 – 12:30 pm April 9 – May 28 (8 weeks/20 hours instruction)
All materials, manual and HST are included in this price $376
This course will have themes revolving around colour, abstraction and introspection. Collage and print techniques will be melded together including Relief print, monoprint and silkscreen reduction.
Abstract Painting Tuesday 1 – 3:30 pm April 9 – May 28 (8weeks/20 hours instruction)
Some materials, manual and HST are included in this price $332
Learn many contemporary paint, faux techniques with acrylic paint, brush, palette knife and untraditional tools will be used. Colour theory, composition and transitioning from realism to abstraction will also be covered.
Observational Drawing for 8-12 year olds Tuesday 4 – 6 pm April 9 – May 28 (8 weeks/16 hours instruction) All materials, snack and HST included in price of $269
This is an excellent course for honing the eye and hand with drawing from real life objects and images.
Kinder Kids for ages 3-6 years Thursday 9:45 – 11:45 or 1 – 3pm April 10 – May 30 (8 weeks/16 hours instruction) All materials, snack and HST included in price $269
This is a mixed media class with imagination and materials exploration at the centre.
Human Design for ages 5-11 years Thursday 4-6pm April 10- May 30 (8 weeks/16 hours instruction) All materials, snack and HST in price of $269
This design course is all about inventing things for everyday use, chairs, vehicles, clothing, houses even things for a pet you design and create.
Summer Camps at Art Works Kinder Kids 5 weeks from July 8- August 9
$226 1Ž2 day $393 full day ( 12 hours instruction per 1/2day)
Sketch club for 7-12 years July 16-18 4-530pm $80 includes materials and sketchbook
Artist Retreat at Unicamp of Ontario August 25-30 (Sunday night till 4pm Friday)
$20 a day or $100 for week this fee covers the workshops with Lauren but not accommodation, food, or materials There will be 3 or 4 sessions a day to make art from sunrise to sunset, and everything in between. We will paint close up views, botanical investigations as well as ponds, streams, brooks, pastoral scene, fields, forests and caves. Last year we painted at least 12 hours a day . unicampofontario.ca/
Q. What excites you about being the new director at Unicamp?
A. “I am excited to be a part of many things in this new role as Camp Director, especially having a chance to use my experience and education to serve the UU community, aiding in the development and growth of our youth and children, and seeing them develop their skills for the future. I’m also happy to have a managerial position which allows for a spiritual component , which is going to be a welcome change from my winter job.”
Q. Tell us a bit about yourself — where do you live and work?
A. “I grew up in and around Guelph, Ontario, went to Ryerson University in Toronto and then moved to Hamilton about seven years ago when I got promoted to general manager of the construction company that I still currently work for. The main office is now in Dundas, but I travel south to London, and north to Aurora, and everywhere in between to train regional managers and seasonal staff.”
Q. What’s your experience of Unicamp been like?
A. “Life changing, in the most positive and most challenging ways. I have met amazing people and other young adults who want to fight to change this world for the better. I have also cried while learning a new skill that as a vegetarian I never thought I’d have the strength to do—ending the lives of our Unicamp chickens. My perspectives on life will never be the same and I look forward to more eye-opening experiences whether they be large or small.”
Q. What are your favourite things to do at Unicamp?
A. “I really enjoy helping take care of the chickens—I have always loved all types of animals. It’s also a beautiful experience to gaze out at the stars on Cow Pie Hill and be able to see them so clearly because of the lack of light pollution.”
Q. What are you hoping to accomplish as the new UU director?
A. “I have lots of ideas which might not all get accomplished over the first summer but my first priority is keeping my staff happy and healthy while adding a spiritual component and connecting with nature. One of the ways I hope to do that is through yoga. The owner of the yoga studio I work for has agreed to donate eco-friendly yoga mats to Unicamp this summer so I can bring my love of yoga to my staff and at least help them stretch out the stiff necks they endure from sleeping on camp beds all summer!”
The Highland Companies officially withdrew their Mega-Quarry application last week – a resounding victory for everyone who opposed this ill-advised proposal. For many of the farmers who were at the center of the battle, including our neighbour Carl Cosack, this fight brought them into a completely unexpected stage of their lives and though it divided the immediate community, it also forged deep human connections across generations, geography and spirituality.
Carl, who runs the cattle ranch next door to Unicamp and who is also the chair of NDACT, the centralizing task force that opposed the mega-quarry, told me how thrilled and amazed he and the other residents of Melanchton were at the armies of Unitarians that we, Unicamp, organized to fight beside them. Unicampers planned and participated in key early actions like the 5-day Walk to Stop the Quarry, the school bus fleets of protesters to the Mega-Quarry planning meeting in Hornings Mills, protests at Queen’s Park, letter writing campaigns, and a lot more.
I believe that our energetic grass-roots involvement in this social action at a critical time during the alliance of rural farmers, city residents and First Nations Warriors was instrumental to this amazing success. This is an example of how the work of a few can have resounding effects to change the world. From the work of just a small group of concerned citizens, millions of people across the country and around the world became personally involved in this battle. This work followed our 7th principle perfectly – and we won!! It’s like our own David & Goliath story. Congratulations to everyone!
This past August I had the pleasure and privilege of running an artist’s retreat for 5 days in the most variegated part of the Canadian Shield just North of Orangeville Ontario. The purpose of the retreat was to sit in nature, and draw or paint our surroundings: trees, rocks, water, plants, fungus, bugs, clouds, and sunsets. Drawing and painting from Observation Plein Air style.
Watercolour Studies of sunset on the Bruce Trail by Lauren and Irena
I have been teaching for over 20 years and taking a week to do on location drawing and painting was on my list of things to do since learning about the Group of Seven and Tom Thompson back in college. I spent many weekends before this retreat scoping out perfect locations and planning out when these locations would work best. I had seven students signed up and knew virtually nothing about them, their desires or their abilities, just their names. I had planned to have three 2 – 3 hour sessions each day, morning afternoon and evening. I was using the framework that the Group of Seven used. In the 1920’s they used paint boxes that could hold 3 wooden panels, their oil paints, brushes and rags. Once those 3 panels were done they would need to be done for the day – as that is all they could carry in the rugged areas of Algoma and Algonquin Park. In theory this made sense for my group too.
In all that I have read about the Group of Seven and Tom Thompson, in their journals and letters and looking at their art – I knew there could be Magic and Wonder. They spoke about God and the spirituality trees exuded. In fact the way they painted skies changed landscape painting in Canada forever. I accepted their theories, hoping we would tap into that Wonder, that Magic.
Many of the paintings by Harris, MacDonald and Thompson were spiritually moving but their imagery could be at odds with the basic concepts of creating depth. Traditionally landscape painters would work from top to bottom, background to foreground using large brushes to small brushes to block in colour and the location of everything. The sky being traditionally painted first in a smooth wash or glaze to show the evenness of the sky behind the middle ground and foreground. This group of artists did not do that. They painted in the foreground of trees and branches first and then wrapped the sky around the trees (like Emily Carr) or they filled in the sky within the branches all in different hues, as if it were a patchwork of cyan, pthalo, ultramarine and manganese blues as the sky changed. This makes the picture plane fight, between the fore ground, back ground and middle ground all vying for the attention of the viewer. And yet despite this theoretical lack of depth, Depth seemed to be achieved. To make the greens seem even more vibrant they would not use an ochre colour for their tonal shading in their under painting but used a deep rich alizarin crimson red as their under painting colour. They purposely allowed the red to peek through.
Watercolour pencil sketch of fern, rock study, by Irena
Before this retreat I did not really believe God was really found by these men. I chalked it up to it being the 1920’s and 30’s and they wrote in a flowery manner because of the convention of their times. So I was truly amazed at how easy it was to find the Divine Spirit. Within the afternoon of the first day I found Wonder, I found Magic. After the initial demonstrations and discussion on depth of long view or short view, time was irrelevant. The rocks, babbling brook and the bark of a tree became my only focus. That session lasted three hours and it felt like only ten minutes had passed. The group was intent on their personal views and talking was not present at all. The closeness and solidarity of this shared experience was not lost on me. This time shift happened with every session that week. As the week progressed the sessions became even longer and the time flew by even more quickly. The end of a session happened when the work we started was done. And we would come out of our reverie with a sigh and a smile and a congratulations in our hearts for a session investigated thoroughly. We lived in the Now of those moments completely. The only comment made was usually when the sun had shifted and our shadows had changed significantly from our initial sketch. “Darn shadows!”
By the last night the two students that stayed for the whole week and myself were up till 1 am feverishly painting from our studies of the day with small discourses on art and the process of making and how quickly the week flew by. You would think 12 hours a day of painting would be tiresome or draining but this was not the case at all. At the end of the week I felt rejuvenated, more connected to the world around me – more grounded than ever before and sad to see it end.
At the end of the week I understood – clearly – why these artists would sacrifice time – from their families, their jobs that enabled their livelihood and all of the luxuries of an urban setting – to be out in the woods with a sketchbook, pencil, canvas and paint to be one with the world experiencing the Wonder and Magic of the Now around them. This is an artist’s vacation at its finest!
September 21, 2012
Acrylic study of tree and raspberry bush, by Lauren
I am in my forties with two teen children, a husband, and a very busy career. I find very little time for my spiritual self. Any personal centering I do, seems to be in my morning and evening rituals in my favourite solitary place: the bathroom. In our house this space is actually a very large room, 14 feet by 8 feet with a vaulted eleven foot high ceiling with a large window full of tropical plants and hanging vines. This room is also filled with many religious icons: Shiva, many versions of Buddha, several Marys with her baby Jesus, the head of the Green Man, and Various Fertility Goddesses. We renovated this room because it was actually the smallest bathroom in the world with only 2 square feet of floor space, a low drop ceiling and the ugliest busiest tile from the 1970’s everywhere.
In this day and age many of my friends do not have religion or even spirituality. They are too caught up in the practical daily grind of their children’s schedules, making money and spending money. I get caught in this cycle myself. It is not a bad life but it does feel, at times like there is not too much meaning in it.
So the bathroom is a few minutes of peace and quiet, where I gather up my thoughts and strength for another busy day. Ritual whether it is sacred or not consists of repeated actions done in a very specific way. The brushing of my teeth and hair, the washing of my face and hands are a ritual. My husband does not think this is at all spiritual and frowns at the idea of an article about the bathroom being a room for spirituality. I counter with “the Pope washes the feet of the poor on Friday; I see this as being very similar. I am releasing the dirt and uncleanness of the day in my daily absolutions. I am starting afresh.”
I took my idea of the bathroom being a spiritual place one step further. I am the artist in residence up at a Unitarian Universalist church camp, Unicamp. I took on the task of beautifying areas, specifically the building. There are many outhouses since it is 60 acres of forest, meadow, stream and pond. These buildings are few and far between. In the past outhouses would have a crescent moon cut out of the door so sun light or moonlight could filter in so one could see where everything was. The out houses at Unicamp did not have this luxury and that got me thinking about my view on our bathroom at home. The divine is present in nature but was definitely not present in these small shacks. I wanted to change that. I started making moon paintings for these buildings in 2004 and I am still creating moons for the doors of outhouses and have now moved on to bathrooms in dorms, cottages and even the doors of shower houses. I took it one step further and elicited the help of my fellow art makers and got many people to make Meditation Mandala’s for the insides of these rooms and outhouses.
The point of this diatribe, I think in our busy Canadian lives we need to make Time – however small – to acknowledge the worth of our own Spirituality; even if it is to simply twice daily in the two minutes our electric toothbrush gives us solace before it beeps to say we are done with that Ritual and can move back into our hectic lives.
Earlier this month an evolving group of enthusiastic volunteers, led by David Nixon, pitched in to construct a beautiful enclosure for Unicamp’s new chickens! As part of our project to redirect organic waste away from our smelly compost pit, this summer Unicamp is home to 20 laying hens. In addition to eating kitchen scraps the hens produce free range eggs and introduce a wealth of educational opportunities for campers young and old. The next time you’re at camp, come check out our hens, right across from the Dining Hall, underneath our new solar array!
I have been an artist all my life. I usually work on paper and canvas. When I was in college I was exposed to art that was created on a massive scale. The wrapped works of contemporary artists Christo Javachef, who wraps whole islands and architecture, the large spiral earth work in Utah by Robert Smithson, the mound builders in Ohio and the ancient works of the Incas; Nazca lines created in the desert using only the land. These creations using land as the canvas intrigued me. How many people does it take to move the earth in a noticeable way? How permanent will it be?
Christo’s Wrapped Islands, Australia
I proposed an idea for a landscaping beautification project for Unicamp; a place I hold dear as the artist in residence. The fire pit in question was an important place of gathering, but it was ugly and at night even dangerous. It had uneven ground around it, nasty wobbly benches and usually all kinds of wood debris to burn. Yet, it was a very important place of ritual, drumming, dancing and singing. I wanted it to be better than it was. I wanted it to reflect its roll in this Unitarian Universalist Community.
I had some obvious criteria. I wanted it to be level so when walking to the fire with no night vision you were safe from pitfalls and tripping hazards. I wanted it to seem welcoming not just because of a friendly crackling fire and laughter but the land would invite you with paths of smooth white sand drawing you into the embrace of a circle. I wanted seating that was natural and smooth that called you to sit. This dream was discussed with many people with enthusiasm over the course of two years.
Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, Utah
It finally came to fruition this Spring. My ideas on paper seemed easy, it only took me a few hours to draw it all out; but the magnitude hit when I ordered the wood, for benches and trim. It was amplified further with the cost, and it really hit home when we calculated we would need 2 tons of sand to fill just the paths in the space. This would require some serious digging, raking, shoveling and moving of earth.
We advertised this project as an “art earthwork and community-building project”. Over 50 people came out to help build 16 – 5 foot cedar benches, and move over 200 wheel barrels full of grass, rocks and earth. We elicited the help of a tractor with a frontend loader and large shovel attachment and its owner Ron. He dug and scraped and moved 4 inches of earth in a circle that was 40 feet across.
I had worked with group projects before involving over 200 people, but moving earth in the hot sun was a very different story. Everybody gave me his or her two cents worth of ideas. I invited the dialogue because the space was to be used by so many and in so many different ways. I wanted the work done to be efficient, lasting, low maintenance and not in vain but I also knew almost nothing about landscaping and the physical geometry it would take to build the wooden structure that I had carefully drawn on paper to hold the sand in place.
I wanted to do the work and be physically in the dirt. But I realized that although I needed to do that and set the example for others I also needed to direct those willing to help so they would stay keen and involved. I became the foreman, overseeing the work but also ensuring people had gloves, buckets, shovels, water, cut lists, plans, ideas and instructions so the work would not falter.
When the circle was complete and bare we measured and drew out the designs for the paths, the circle for the centre fire pit and seating area. I stood in the centre and felt – something. It was not subtle or a slight nudge it was a full whack of power. This project had the good intentions of over 50 people and all easily witnessed the beauty of the curve, but the power was truly in the centre. It was a rush. I got others to stand there and some did – not even realizing it, but their resolve and energy was renewed by me and by the power I felt in that circle.
The people involved had willing hands, and needed almost no skill to move earth, we also had quite a few who were great with math and geometry, we had people with tools and know how and people with no tools and no know how but willing to learn. Many gained backaches and blisters and several learned how to use table saws, chop saws, drills and palm sanders. There was a wealth of knowledge and it was all freely shared. We had children as young as two helping move sand one small bucket full at a time and many hands to help move rocks and dirt to the right location. We had the smallest along side the tallest with feet dancing in place tamping down the sand to make it even and firm.
When looking upon these giant earth works I have a new found appreciation and reverence for what was involved. The word Community takes on a whole new meaning when looking at miles of pink silk or tones of moved earth in a Nazca line to create a six mile long spider, monkey or hummingbird.
When visiting Unicamp I invite you to visit the centre of the circle, join in the ritual of drumming, dancing and singing this space offers you. May you find reverence and wonder.
In the corporate world being a team player is quite different than being on a sports team. You might not have a clear and obvious opponent. The opposition might be closer to home within the team itself. For any team effort to succeed communication is always key. In the board room some people may have an easier time expressing themselves because they may be loudest or a chosen leader. The quieter types might not get a chance to voice their opinions, however great they might be. This is a typical problem that is not easily solved or even known about by the higher ups. This quiet lurking dissatisfaction is really the true enemy of any good business.
Annual or frequent off site corporate workshops can help break up tensions that are forming. It is also a great way to see colleagues in a non business setting working together as complete equals. I have been doing Mandala workshops for over 6 years at Unicamp of Ontario and find it is the best way to help foster better communication within a group.
The Mandala workshop addresses issues of communication. The group is broken up into teams of four. Each group is given the challenge of designing a round Mandala in marker and coloured pencil. The Mandala consists of a target with nine concentric rings. Each ring needs to be filled in by a different person. The rings need to relate to each other but be different enough in design to be interesting to the viewer. Each individual is equal. They need to negotiate; space to work, colour, line, and pattern with their peers. They need to verbalize what their plan is and what will work beside their ring. The Mandala always needs to be cohesive within it self. Participants learn to balance their desires with others and ego is soon thrown out the window. The Mandala and the success of the image is the goal of the group. They also need to be able to voice when they want to shift or turn the Mandala to complete the rest of their ring. As the work progresses people also become more aware of what their fellow workers need, whether that is a specific colour or more space to continue to draw.
As the project develops and the colours emerge, more conversation and more cohesion is built within the group. A rhythm is established of when to colour and when to shift the Mandala . The anticipation of the next ring being coloured is heightened once a ring is complete. The largest outer ring is the last to be completed. All four participants will work on this together, expressing ideas, sharing colours, designs and trying to complete their section being true to the patterns already established, in previous rings, to give the entire Mandala cohesion. This is the true test of growing trust and communication. As the project finishes they can look at this Mandala as an extension of them individually from their own sections and then also view themselves as part of the larger picture being a member of the group.
Lauren Renzetti is Assistant Director at Art Works Art School, and an Instructor. Art Works offers a wide variety of corporate workshops in drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture. Lauren is also artist in residence at Unicamp. Join her in making this summer.www.unicampofontario.ca