Camp: This year…I’m remembering everyone!

This blog is all over the place…one day I’ll be talking about music, one day some creative project, one day a funny sign I walked by on the way to work, and some days I’ll be talking about the thing that consumes my soul: Camp Feral!

It’s a good soul consumption. I enjoy it. If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about the short answer is: a summer camp for geeks, specifically furries (fans of anthropomorphics) that takes place in Algonquin Park.  The long answer can be found here.

What is my involvement?  Well, I showed up by car, late, and scared and confused, for the first event in 1998.  After two years of poverty I returned in 2001 to attend and teach writing workshops, which I also did in ’02. In 2003…I became a staffer, and helped co-ordinate workshops.  In ’04…I was asked to be co-chairman of the event.  In ’05, I was asked to be chairman – basically, artistic director, staff manager, and ‘life giver upper.’  In 2011…well, not much has changed in six years, let’s say.

As such…I may talk about Feral! in this blog on occasion. I’ll try to keep things relevant, like finding interesting anecdotes and making them relatable.  Other times I might explain how I go about doing things, a ‘how to’ that might be applicable to other projects or whatnot. Or, I may just be all random and stuff. Like now…and the blog begins:

This year, I’m remembering everyone! I swear it.

It’s not that I forget people.  Last year, and the year before, when I went through the picture of everyone who attended I could name EVERY person. Two months later, however, not so much.

The reason I feel I ‘should’ be able to remember everyone is that I interact with everyone.  Also, I spend the months leading up to camp going over registration information, so the names are tattooed in my brain, it’s just a matter of associating them with a face. And since furry is very much a ‘nickname’ based society, it’s not like I have to remember a dozen Peters…every name is as unique as the person associated.

I used to think I was good at remembering.  And then a fellow approached me on at least FOUR occasions and asked me who he was – flat out. He knew I had forgotten. And each time I remembered I had forgotten before, but forgot to remember the guys name. I remember it now. But only after four embarrassing moments.

For me to remember a person there needs to be some sort of ‘mental pin.’ For example…if the name is unique, I may remember them on a first introduction just for that reason. Or if they did something memorable – we spent an evening talking about music, or they did something ABSOLUTELY hilarious…I might remember. Otherwise, with some exceptions (see above), I remember a person around the third introduction.  Third times the charm.

The reason I have a memory like this is because, and I admit it freely, I have a lazy memory. I went through University…and if I learned anything at University it was ‘learn to forget’ because I’m going to have to cram more in there in three months. I absorbed, I understood concepts, but unless it was memorable…or I had to learn it three times…I forgot it afterwards. Time and time again.

But I don’t like being that way…I love it in the early days when I only HAD about 200 people to remember.  It was neat being the guy who ‘knew’ everyone by name, had a story for them, maybe even remembered their job, where they lived, their favourite movie.

More importantly, in the industry I’m trying to enter…remembering names is key. Networking is how you get ahead, and how you network is by remembering names and faces and facts.

I read a neat story about how one person used to remember names. When they met someone they would repeat their name back to them in that initial conversation three times. After meeting, they would then go to the bathroom, or a private space, and write the name down on a piece of paper…and after reading it for a moment, they would tear it up and throw it away.

Apparently…thousands of names, anecdotes, and histories were kept in mind using this system.

Another approach I may take is incorporating a nickname, or short sentence with the person to help me remember a fact.  Such as “Billy from Baltimore loves Bacon.” Then when I see Bill, or William, I’ll remember the sentence and have a multitude of associations with it.

In the end…I want to leave camp remembering everyone, and not just for the quick quiz with the group shot. I want to remember a year later, five years later.

I used to say ‘What’s the point of doing something if you’re gonna do it half assed?” That applies to meeting people too, I think.

It’s time to stop being a lazy thinker!


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