michael nagle about large projects personal projects

how to start a summer camp instructable

fall 2008

link to the instructable site

Around fall 2008, I wrote up a guide to starting a summer camp. It's at this point in my life that my interests started to morph from exclusively children's learning, to the process of how adults and societies support or thwart deep learning.

This instructable is an interesting object to me. Over the years, I've come to feel less and less like the structural blocks to creativity are the issue, as much as it is individual and group worldviews. That said, there are real questions -- of licensing, getting insurance to work with children, of figuring out how much to charge -- the kind of implicit knowledge inside of a large corporation or franchise that makes it hard to create. Not having any precedent for these things I think does create a real and usually unseen increase in the activation energy required to create new projects in the forms of organizations (and in this case, learning centers.)

It is interesting to me that the instructable's interest has grown over the years. In first publishing it, it seemed a kind of quirky and remote document. It has since received half as many views as the flashy lightsaber instructable, which was certainly not the case when I initially published them (the lightsaber instructable had a burst of popularity initially.) Every year I get a few emails about starting a camp, and a few comments on the instructable. I don't know that it's ever materialized, but it does make me think that is a kind of bootstrapping problem in innovating and inventing new models of learning for children -- by virtue of very few people doing it, it's hard to imagine doing.