Thank You to the thankers

I’m a sucker for thank you cards. Well, not really official thank you cards, but little notes or messages that former campers send my way regarding their time at a Type Camp. Recently, Natalie Tan, wrote about her experience on her new blog.

It was wonderful to read what was going on in her head (she’s a quiet one, that Natalie). First of all, she had me at [Type Camp creates] ‘an awesome and supportive environment’. Oh my! That’s it, girlfriend! That’s what I’m trying to do – is change the way that we learn. She wrote about being apprehensive and tending to compare herself to others (OMG, we ALL do that and we need to stop). What could happen if we shifted our educational system to collaborative instead of competitive? We learn so much from others. If I can create just one moment in time where we can connect and contribute and collect from each other, then it is a success in making the world just a slightly better place.

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The cool thing is that Natalie first attended the script workshop in April and then the Calligraphy one this autumn. I was able to see her progress over time, which is something that I miss from my academic teaching days. Type Camps are intense in that I learn a lot about a person over the day or the week – but I do lack the ability to see how they are over a year, or two, or four. That worried person from the first day turned out to have quite a way with the brass nib pen and quite an eye for the cap blackletter forms.

Another multi-Type Camper recently wrote me a note that said that she loved how Type Camps are ‘learning environments where cooperation is more valued than competition’ and that all of her ‘favourite projects were done in collaboration’. I can encourage people to let go of their competitive side, but they have to want to shed it as well. She is one of the ones that excels at sharing her ideas, and it just makes them stronger and even more creative – it’s wonderful to watch.

Natalie typifies one of the kinds of people that I want to attend Type Camps. She has an interest in typography but isn’t a typographer. (Typography ain’t just for typographers, yo!) She’s ready to learn and is open to trying something new. It takes a big person to walk into a room and not know what will happen the rest of the day, but these people are doing it – and some of them fly halfway across the world to do so, too. So by trying something new, she learned something new that she can apply to the rest of her life. No, it’s not the letterforms, it’s that she learned how to learn.

That’s a lesson that I wish I had learned decades ago.