Barbarian Weekend

So, after hearing that I have never been camping, a friend from work invited me to Barbarian Weekend. She explained that she would find a tent and bedding for me, and that the food is all taken care of for the Barbarian Feast. There’s a trailer with the food in it, so that’s safe, and there will be plenty of drinks, water all that. There are outhouses, so it wouldn’t be seriously roughing it. She told me about all the people who would be there, lots of families, different groups of families, 20 something adults who were part of the Barbarian Weekend when they were kids, older adults who are starting to let those younger adults take on the jobs that keep Barbarian Weekend going.

I’ll tell you the truth. I said, “Sure, I’d do that” months ago, with very little actual interest in camping. I admit it. What most interested me in this event was the thought of all those families. I miss families. I grew up with just my mother, father, and sister. While my dad and mom both had large extended families, we grew up moving from country to country, state to state, far from other family members.

Even as a kid, I found ways to get myself included in other people’s family events. I hung out in friends’ living rooms, sometimes annoying my friends because I was hanging around with their parents and siblings. As an adult, I continue to join in with other people’s family events. Barbarian Weekend sounded like my kind of thing.

This was something that was months out, and I kind of forgot about it. As it got closer M started talking about it and asking about my plans. I was nervous, but by then I really liked M and wanted to join in that family thing. So I confirmed. Two weeks before the event, she told me I needed a Barbarian costume. I wasn’t really surprised, nor was I very worried, as she told me that they have things there that I could use to make my costume. A few days later, I discovered she was going to make a new costume for herself, making last year’s available to me.

Another friend from work, C, who is also friends with M asked me, one week out, “What’s your talent?”

“My what?”

“Your talent…you have to perform something for the Barbarians.”

“I…what? What do I have to do?”

Conveniently, M walked into C’s office about that time.

“I have to perform something?”

M smiled broadly and told me that it was no big deal, that it could be some jokes, a story, a song – “you can do a dance,” she said.

Yeah, I was not going for the dance thing. This increased my nervousness, but it wasn’t a deal breaker for me, you know? I went.

I won’t bore you with a story about my performance. I will say, though, that there were a number of fabulous performances and leave it at that for now. They were good enough that they deserve a post of their own.

What I will tell you is that I definitely found a wonderful family experience just like I was looking for. The people were warm and welcoming. There wasn’t just one family, there were several families – and not everyone was related. There were little kids and bigger kids and as mentioned before younger and older adults. It was amazing to listen to younger adults talk about their experiences growing up around Barbarians. It was great to see older adults talk about the way the younger adults were stepping up.

The creativity involved in the performances and Barbarian Idol was intense. I’m not talking about how good the performers and performances were – though they were great. What I’m talking about it is the freedom with which those performances were executed.

Robert Fulgham, wrote an essay about if you ask a room full of first graders, “Who here can dance?” all the kids will raise their hands. Likewise singing and drawing. He goes on to say that if you went into high school classes you would get very different results. Some have made the argument that that is because school “teaches” the artist out of people. I don’t think it’s just about school. I think it’s a cultural thing. I think people learn from all around them to “tone it down” and “fit in.” I think kids hear that it isn’t enough to love singing or dancing, but that they need to be “good” singers or dancers.

In this crowd, those messages were not evident. They got up to sing, dance, recite and tell jokes. I’m not saying no one was nervous – I’m just saying they got up. They got up and they smiled and laughed. They got up with original works and they demonstrated new abilities.

I was honored to be part of the tribe.


One response to this post.

  1. […] original plan was to rent this Uhaul and pull it across the country. However, at Barbarian weekend, my new little brother suggested that I buy a trailer. I was skeptical at first, but he told me I […]


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