Syllabus Camp

I just got back from syllabus camp, which is an event I totally made up. I first realized the value of going away for a few days with the goal of preparing for an upcoming semester in January when my friend Jen and I made a short trip to the beach right before the spring semester started. So this summer, I planned a more intentional syllabus camp.

I have to re-figure out life as an academic mom about every two years. My kids keep growing up, their needs change, my needs change, and how I manage my responsibilities as a mom and my responsibilities at work shift as a result.

One of the ways I am managing those responsibilities in this season of life is syllabus camp. Syllabus camp is a few days away with long blocks of time to work, a place to take walks or be on the water when I need a break, and someone to keep me company outside of the planned long work sessions.

This year syllabus camp was an AirBnb 10 miles from my house. Paying to stay somewhere so close to home might seem ridiculous, but there were two clear benefits: it was exactly in the middle of where my syllabus camp mate Jess and I live, which maximized our work time by minimizing travel time, and it was in a familiar town and we knew nearby trails, places to eat, and where to buy the items we forgot to pack (underwear and toothbrushes are essential even at syllabus camp).

I am not sure why this is more productive than spending a few long days in my actual office on a deserted university campus, but it is. No regrets, five stars, will do again. Here are some behind the scenes from Syllabus Camp Summer 2022.

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Invitation tide

Some invitations require postage to send; others require courage and vulnerability.

There is no standard rate for sending the second type of invite. Calculating risk replaces counting coins.

When an invitation is sent but not accepted, the rate of sending the next invite increases.

When an invitation is sent and accepted, the rate of sending the next one decreases.

A steady tide of invitations that consistently come and go establish a relationship’s rhythm, which can be felt just like if I invited you to put your hand on my chest to feel my heart beat,

and you said yes.