Why Summer Camp Is Just Like Mick Jagger


Where does creativity really come from?

If you’re a big nerd like I am, then you’ll understand what I’m talking about when I say that I get a little thrill every time I see a new episode of “Under The Influence” show up in my podcast feed. (And if you consider yourself a big nerd and don’t know what I’m talking about… Seriously. Download it now.)

That Terry O’Reilly is a genius, and one seriously awesome storyteller.

It’s actually pretty often that I get a lightbulb moment while listening to one of his episodes, but this week’s was one of the coolest. In it, Terry is describing one of the stories shared in a book called A Beautiful Constraint (which I totally need to read now, by the way). Essentially, Mick Jagger learned to dance like Mick Jagger because he didn’t have the space to dance like a normal person.

Rolling Stone guitarist Keith Richards says Mick Jagger learned to dance outrageously for one very specific reason. See, all the stages the Rolling Stones performed on in the early days were unbelievably small. Once their equipment was set up, that left Jagger a small 4 by 4 foot space to perform in. So he learned how to get attention in a tight spot. The constraint led to an utterly unique set of dance moves that became Jagger’s signature.

~ Terry O’Reilly, Under The Influence

One of the things that is most memorable about Mick Jagger was created not out of the desire to be creative, but out of a need to make things work despite the constraints he was under.

That’s SOOOO camp.

For the past eight years, I don’t know that there has ever been a time when I haven’t dreamed of what I could do to improve camp if I won the lottery. (The chances of this are pretty much 0% since I have never even bought a ticket.) But listening to this story made me realize what NOT having a limitless budget has actually done in our favour.

Not having money to burn on supplies means that we benefit the environment by doing lots of recycling. Not having our own permanent space (until this year!) has helped us to keep the focus on things that don’t require a permanent physical installation – like strong relationships. Not being able to afford expensive advertising means that we have to work extra hard at keeping our existing customers through excellent service and the best possible program… which we do on a minimal budget.

Thinking about Mick Jagger’s dancing makes me feel like we’re on the right track when we spend most of our time and budget on our staff and not on bells and whistles. When you’ve found and trained the right camp staff, they make the camp magic happen – and they’ll rise to that challenge even – scratch that, ESPECIALLY – when your resources are limited.

Maybe not winning the lottery is a good thing after all.

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