We recently completed the first Skills-for-Life course, and it proved very successful; maybe better even than we hoped. Although we decided to keep the event to one week, rather than two, we had time to work in a wide variety of areas, from learning cooking skills (including making sushi) to developing woodworking skills by constructing oak boxes using dovetail joints,
and working with a number of 'inner life' practices to do with attention and with bringing an awareness of our inner life into our outer activities.
We had five participants, ranging in age from twenty-one to thirty, as well as the original Skill-for-Life group of Nanji Davison, Stefan Maier and George Bennett as facilitators.
Each day we took a particular focus for our work, and these included looking at the way we relate to the material world, how we are affected by what we like and what we dislike, our relationship to food, and how we are dependent on help. We also practiced various of the movements - accompanied by music - devised by the philosopher George Gurdjieff to help work (among other things) with attentions form different backgrounds in relation to the body, and with bringing the physical, emotional and intellectual aspects of our nature into an effective balance.
We also included a practical group project to improve the campus at Camp Caravan by weeding a badly overgrown path to the newly completed dormitory building. This was an example of undertaking a group task not with any conventional 'top-down' organization, but by using the power of a group to visualize a result together and then bring it to completion. The task itself was ambitious, given the time available, but all of the participants remarked how effective it was to work from a common picture rather than from directions.
In our closing meeting, the five participants made a wide range of very positive comments on the whole event, as well as some suggestions about how we could modify and improve Skill-for Life courses in the future. We are already planning a two-week, two-part event for August 2017. The first part will be another, similar introductory week, and the second week will build on the work of the first. Future participants can opt for either the first week or for the two weeks as a whole. We are also planning a series of introductory days through the fall and spring in which anyone interest day in the Skills-for-Life program can get a taste of it.