SEEKING: FRIENDS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD
When kids imagine the end of the world, their parents are usually the first to go. Then goes society with all its dumb rules like no dessert before dinner. The apocalypse opens up possibilities. Give a young writer the chance to imagine crumbling societies and reinvent the world and their minds go flying. Every year, our Post-Apocalyptic Fiction workshop is one of our most popular summer camps. Since 2014, kids have volunteered as tribute, imagining unique disasters and spending a week writing about characters inhabiting these worlds and making crucial life-or-death choices.
Every rag-tag group of apocalyptic survivors needs a leader, and Austin Bat Cave is lucky enough to have one of the very best on our side. Kalli Angel is not only the kids’ lead instructor for a week. She’s their tour guide through ruined worlds. When the writing is hard and difficult, Kalli shepherds the kids back to safety. She envisions and plans and executes! Without Kalli Angel, none of this would be possible. The world would fall apart, and we’d be left scratching our heads and wandering aimlessly.
I first met Kalli when I started working at Austin Bat Cave. I’d recently left teaching to take over as Program Director for ABC. Projects and programs were being handed over to me, most of which were already in-progress. It was early spring, and summer was fast approaching. The Post-Apocalyptic camp was a mainstay–one that we did every year.
In a lot of ways, it helped me transition into my new position. The curriculum was mostly set and with volunteering, Kalli was an old hand. She needed no training or help from me. But even though she’d successfully done the workshop the year before, she didn’t switch on auto-pilot. She wanted it to be better.
The workshop was named in Austin Chronicle’s Annual Best Of list for 2015. No small feat.
When summer sixteen was upon us, we circled back around again to the apocalypse. Kalli was in, and this time, she brought in her mother, Ann. Austin Bat Cave wanted to expand its summer programming by including a few all-day summer camps. Post-Apocalyptic Fiction was the obvious choice.
Together, Kalli and Ann added a whopping eighteen hours of curriculum. They brought in guest speakers to talk about survival skills, the electric grid, the nutritional value of insects, self-defense, and the Waller Creek ecosystem. For five, full days, kids wrote and found friends at the end of the world. Austin Bat Cave salutes Kalli and Ann Angel, our leaders into the dark and back.
This camp would not have been possible without support from so many wonderful partners in the community. We’re grateful above all to Barnes & Noble in the Arboretum for the use of their space and letting a gaggle of kids and volunteers roam through their bookshelves. Thank you, Central Market, Modern Market, Wheatsville Coop, and Candace Million for feeding us. Our guest speakers were amazing–thank you Nathan, Sabrina, Kate, Chris, Meredith, John, and Allen. And a huge thank you to Pi Beta Phi and Humanities Texas for their financial support in making this camp possible.