Thoughts on Anderida Gorsedd camps

WMcampThe way that the tickets for the Anderida Gorsedd Autumn camp sold out in under a day has really shocked me and Cerri. My own natural reaction is to try and please everyone, so when I get emails from disappointed people I just want to make them happy and shift the boundaries to accommodate them. I spoke to Cerri for a long time about this last night, talking over different options. We could, of course, drop the 60 adults limit and just have no limit. We could make one of the camps unlimited and the other as they are now… So many thoughts.

When we started the AG camps in 2003 we set the limit to 40 and struggled to get that amount. But then more people found out about them so we increased it to 50, then 60. But then the spring camp sold out in 2 weeks, and then this one in 24 hours!

Our goal for the camps was always to create an intimate space where we could create magic together. That the camps were different from other Pagan camps in that they became weekend rituals, deeply exploring a theme, then entering into it for the Saturday night ritual. The limit was made after our experiences with OBOD camps, and also the logistics of creating a meaningful ritual that could be deeply felt by everyone involved. We wanted people to feel safe enough to express themselves, to open up, to be free.

I remember Paul Mitchell saying on another message board who were obviously really trying to create a ‘tribe’ that the only tribe he knows grew by accident, and that really is the case with the AG. The camps were never created to form a tribe of people, but to create shared magic – the tribal feel has been a very happy accidental mix of wonderful people, regular and reliable camps, open rituals, and then the conference. But there is no ‘membership’ fee for the Gorsedd, people are a part of it if they want to be. There is no inner, or outer circle, and word has spread about the magic we create at these camps, and more people want to experience them. These are all good things.

So the choice is whether to increase the limit, or have no limit at all. Well, I can say that the limit has already increased a little and it’s likely we will have about 75 at the Autumn camp. Simply put, I couldn’t get the PayPal buttons off the website quickly enough, and we want to honour all of the people who have bought tickets. But those who have been before, try to imagine 150-300 people in that field. There is no way we could all get around our community fire and keep warm. Imagine the Immrama Journeys with that many people, or the Battle of the Trees ritual, or if you were there, how could we have done the Three Worlds journey with that many? It couldn’t happen. It would vastly change the vibe and energy of these camps to increase them that much, and then I think the experience people have would change so much that we would start to hear things like, “They aren’t as good since they got bigger”.

I read a book on ancient tribal cultures and in that book it says that most successful tribal communities were, and still are, made up of around 60-80 people. Once they get larger than that they begin to fragment back into smaller groups. So for all of these reasons we’re going to stick with the current way of organising the AG camps for the time being. As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s amazing really – the AG has 2 camps, a conference, 8 open rituals, three internet forums, and a monthly moot. I think that’s amazing in itself, but there’s always room for more exciting things for us to share, so watch this space…

5 Comments

  1. Tim Holland July 30, 2009 at 9:39 am - Reply

    Its a dilema and I know of no easy solution. I’ve started going to the Exmoor camp, and thats slightly smaller, but has some of the same feeling. A big camp with good workshops works but its a very different feel.
    Oakleaf offers tickets to people who’ve been to the previous camp first, then lets others apply, but their limit is 300 and its a very different camp.. is there a turnover of new people able to get in, and others moving on to other camps? Will it get stale and too much of an ‘in’ tribe?

  2. Rafe July 30, 2009 at 11:28 am - Reply

    Its a difficult one but I can understand how the vibe would change if you increase the numbers too much. One possible solution might be to increase the numbers as much as you are comfortable with to maintain the same vibe and then to offer anyone who missed out the chance to get tickets first for the next camp but then – you can please some of the people some of the time etc…….

  3. Pombagira July 30, 2009 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    are there people willing who would be willing to set up a second camp? perhaps on the same weekend or maybe different weekend, that is run the sameway as Anderida Gorsedd, because like you said to increase the numbers it would loose something, so setting up a second camp could be the way to go. it could be a sister/brother tribe camp?

    *ponders this*

    Polly

  4. Bronzewing July 31, 2009 at 10:30 am - Reply

    Is it possible that some of the folks who have been to previous camps could begin to take what they have learned and take it out and do camps of their own, or help others run them with the knowledge they have of what works so well at yours?

    Just as you have said before that people should go to more local stone circles instead of all crowding to Stonehenge, and thereby begin their own traditions and have a more intimate experience, perhaps this could happen with the camps too?

    How about a “running a successful OBOD camp” seminar to kick things off? 🙂

  5. Damh the Bard August 3, 2009 at 8:15 am - Reply

    Thanks peeps!
    The problem, we hope, has been sorted. Next July 16th – 18th the Anderida Gorsedd will be holding ‘The Anderida Gathering’, a large camp with the traditional Anderida vibe but open to a larger amount of people. The May and September camps will remain smaller, and we’re hoping to move the conference to February. All of the input and suggestions have been really positive and useful, thank you! xxxx

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