Reflections on 2013 NOT CAMP Tour


received by 8/3/12

Your summary here is right on. I am glad you are willing to have this again, please count me in, I will be glad to be involved with something as awesome as this was. Ran into George Lee last night (we went to see Tiki Taboo) and we both were super excited about the camp. You and Dominique are gracious and forgiving hosts, hugs and messy kisses.

                        Charley Myers


My family and I came to Talk Story camp and it was a highlight of our visit home.  The spot could not have been more gorgeous and everyone was so nice. My kids had a wonderful time.  The night story tell sessions were great.  The Saturday night storytellers were all so good.  We particularly loved the raven story and the shadow puppets.  Thank you for sharing with us!

The canoe rides and the guys who took us on the canoe rides were absolutely amazing. We’ll be home in Hawaii for six weeks next summer and would love to do camp again.  My mother, Aloha, told me about it and am so glad she did. Thank you for such a beautiful weekend. The kids are still dreamy about it.

Aloha, Malia


Thanks for the fun times! I agree the kids were a little disruptive, but on the whole everything was fun :)           Mysti LePage


Jeff and Dominique thank you so much for all your hard work. I’m so glad you are going to do it again next year. You’re both amazing. Irie-Love and Rasta both had a great time and look forward to next year. I’m glad you were as pleased with them as I am.  I’ll get back to you on the other storytelling stuff as soon as I feel I can do it without making a fool of myself. Thanks to everyone who listened to my attempt to storytell with balloons. Hopefully, by next year you won’t suffer listening to it.                                 Dwain Williams


Thanks for all your hard work in organizing Talk Story Camp. It seemed to run much more smoothly, and I’m especially glad Dominique was able to actually enjoy being there — and take me on our little adventure! Let me know the dates for next year … and we’ll see what we can do.                         Linda Yemoto


Good morning! What a weekend of firsts! First camp trip, first assemble a tent,first sleep in a tent… first full on shower in the gang shower of a public park… first smear of cream cheese on am almond poppy seed muffin… first canoe ride, first paddling, first jump from a canoe, first hangout on a sandbar, first try on a kayak, first fall off a kayak (and 2nd, and 3rd…no more, lol), first sunrise on a beach on the Windward side, first climb back into canoe… First real sunburn since 2007… Well, i’m not positive, but it feels like I might peel by the end of the week lol

It was an awesome weekend of stepping outside my comfort zone, enjoying some amazing stories, and even sharing a few of my own using the tips and techniques from our workshops…

Oh yes, and one more first: first time in a few years I could connect with some bright, kind hearted, witty and respectful kids. Beautiful. :)

      Gayle Stephens



Received by 7/26/11

A night to remember! It was so awesome to play with Tita! Can’t wait till next time. Thanks for pic Jeff (& Linda). Gunalchîsh ! (Tlingit for thank-you very much!)                      Sharon Shorty & ‘Gramma Susie’


Mahalo and mahsi cho (hope I remembered that right) What fun that was!  I hope ‘Grandma Susie & Tita’ can get together again soon!    Kathy & Tita

Here’s the link to Kathy Collins’ article in the Maui News on Talk Story Camp.


JG: I’m touched. Really! This quiet confession is a delightful personal little story, right?
KC: I’ve been writing this column for 6 months now, an enjoyable exercise. If you feel like a dip into the online archives, I suggest these in particular:
1/26 – Mom stories, 3/9 – letter to deceased husband Barry, 5/25 – water story I told @ camp, 6/1 – Benzaiten (I’m adding it to my tells), 6/15 – Father’s Day stories & poetry


Talk story camp was epic! How do you do it?         Derek Ferar


Talk story camp was AMAZING!  I wish I could have stayed later on Sunday. Still, I am so happy that I got to participate as both a workshop leader and as an attendee!  I had a blast meeting people and laughing, and that campground is really peaceful. I look forward to next year should there be a 2nd annual Talk Story Camp!  I have a feeling it will keep growing each year. Rikki Jo Hickey (workshop on Picture Stories)


I am so derelict in sending my thanks for your work, your hospitality and your vision in creating Talk Story Camp. I learned so much and had such an unforgettable time. You know how much I loved it. If you want to do it again (or some version), I’m willing to help you plan, organize and execute. Let me know.                                                    Linda Yemoto  (returning to teach at Camp 20122)


The kids had a great time! We were there only briefly but they’d never last longer! I especially felt that what RIley absorbed was so important. The best thing for my kids was the Ricky Hicky workshop with the photos! The ages varied from my kids to an older language educator & lawyer from Australia. The story the educator told of the alien invasion had RIley drop-jawed in wonder! More importantly was how she told of the pivotal point in a story (the photo), what happened before, what happens after. Very timely since both the kids “published” stories in 1st grade. Hayley was a bit too young, but Riley was thrilled. The greatest was the silent little girl, Wailea? She didn’t even speak a word but her story was so great. Loads of fun!            Pam McMillan-Brunel


Pam, I’m so glad that your kids benefitted from the workshop.  I was thrilled to hear the stories that each participant invented.  Yours included!  The inner turmoil that was happening in the little girl before the photograph moment sounded like it might be worth exploring because the peaceful moment you described as the connection between dolphin and child can present the healing effect you were speaking of really well.  I hope you will expand on your story Rikki Jo Hickey


Yo, Jeff. You and Dominique did a FABULOUS Talk Story Camp! Thank you bundles!!!!  Merci, mon ami.  Ruth Stotter 

Lovely to think of you tanned and exhausted, yet grinning at pulling another magical beastie out of the hat! Never mind nuclear drift; not this guy!! I love it! What could I do/say to be a part of that legendary gathering one of these years/lifetimes? Imagining you on your own land- sounds too good! And Aloha…     Dovie Thomason

My family had an excellent time.  We appreciated the effort you & your group of volunteers put into this event so we could create a new family memory.  I enjoyed the Friday Night tales & the food was good too.   The campsite was terrific & spending time with my girls is what I set out to do- you made it possible.
As for my girls…
The twins enjoyed storytelling & crafts, the canoe rides & bubble lady. They were drawn to the animated speakers & the way the stories held hidden lessons.  They made friends & played all weekend long.  This’ll be a hard camping trip to top. My oldest daughter Kalei & my wife Heather participated, out of curiosity, different workshops & found it insightful.  They were exposed (we all were) to a whole new world & found it entertaining & at some points…deep.   Although shy & unprepared to actively participate in the sharing of their own ‘stories’, they see possibly sharing in the future…if this cames again.  They enjoyed the listening, laughing and all the feelings the stories evoked (their words not mine)….yeah, keep us on the mailing list.  My wife extends her gratitude as well, for a most enjoyable adventure. Count us in if this becomes an an annual event.

Mahalo, Kraig & Heather (kids chanted in Hawaiian)


Hey Jeff, thanks for the opportunity to talk story at the Camp & help with the ‘awa ceremony. It was a neat gathering- I wish I could have stayed. Mom passed away last Thursday, so it was a good thing we went. The kids presence brought her out of the fog for a lucid 3 days of fun, laughter, & memories–now that’s a story! Her body quickly shut down a day later, so it was truly amazing… so I missed the fun at Kualoa. I hope the weekend went well. 

                                      Aloha e, Ian Akahi Masterson




ARRIVALS: Lyn Ford & Bruce began the Camp with about a week of talking, some shows, lotsa down time & day trips together. Bruce has a set menu he easily maintained for himself, and it was fun to have them around (low maintenance, joyful sharings). Two truckloads of camping stuff was sent to Kualoa ahead of us.

WEDNESDAY was the official beginning: fighting afternoon traffic to hotel pick-up of Lyn Ford & Bruce, Ruth Stotter & Linda Yemoto and back to the Mission Houses Museum. A logistics snafu left Sharon Shorty waiting – she finally called, and to her credit, taxied to the Museum in time to contribute wonderfully. Penny Post, Gene & Ruby arrived later that night. What a powerful cluster of folks were gabbing away in our living room that night!

THURSDAY we ferried all to begin a 5 day stay on the gorgeous shore of Kualoa Camp. It became more than a setting for the telling: Kualoa was a Lead Character in this Camp Tale, punctuating everything with passing rain showers, clouds on gorgeous mountains, Sunrise & settings, the inviting gentle bay, grassy open spaces and tree-lined canopy for tents, and the fire-pit. It was a spectacular setting. Guests went to Polynesian Culture Center while Shain, Alia, Jeff & Dominique set up tents & kitchen, fed the group that night, and enjoyed Shain’s campfire that night. I saw my toes in the sea in the full moon light.



PARK TELLS: It took some figuring how to fit everyone into two cars- the City so constricted their permission to use of their van that it was useless. Shain Miller told for two hours with kids a Hauula (Wow!) and loved it. Kris & Deb Vos with Ruth Stotter did a session at Laie, & then afternoon tells in Hauula. I was embarrassed & shocked to find the Kahuku leader, contrary to our agreement, chose to leave Linda Yemoto, Gene Tagaban, and Penny Post waiting while she walked the kids to the Fire Station down the street. Lots of effort to give a show to someone so indifferent. Linda told me later the (eventual) show rocked, the kids and Gene were great. The Hauula director drove the other tellers back in the van, which saved me time & trouble. Why didn’t he come pick them up? Bad taste in my mouth still. Grrr….

Lots of people arrived (15 art students from Colorado Springs), Dinner was great, Ian Masterson had trouble (my view) putting his great Polynesian chops, knowledge, and energy into a Kualoa story we could follow. Great Good will come from him in the future.


OPENING CEREMONY: Kava received guests from the sea onto land (and a lei). Each had a say, and then, starting with workshop presenters, the locals introduced themselves to all. Ian helped this protocol. Lyn Ford, gracious & poised as always, spoke well in Camp Opening, did 2 workshops Saturday, and drove back to our house to sleep each night. Her husband Bruce amazed me every day! Adverse to ‘nature’, he began peeling skin- he pitched in to set up tents, wore flower-patterned shirts, sat on the edge of the sea in a beach chair and let the waves roll over his legs. I had the distinct impression I was watching a man flower! At the Opening Ceremony, I shared this anecdote: Lyn called saying Bruce missed Hawaii- can they visit in the summer? I’d been thinking of Camp, and with Lyn (and Bruce) coming I committed to doing it. Speaking last, due to his habitual hiding in the back, Bruce brought the house down by saying, “I’m so glad I could make all this happen’.


LOCALS CONCERT: I told a Pele/Kamapua’a tale I’d forgotten I knew. Kealoha, Lyn (due to her departure Saturday night) spoke, & Alton Chung told his Dad’s tale (rubber band wars) maybe others.


CAMPFIRE was great with lotsa folks. I told a story about a zipper which delighted wonder- child Jackson. Shain & Alia took on this job night after night, continually said ‘yes’ to help, earned a big star for their willing contributions. Big big help!



AHUPUA’A (Brenda Freitas-Obregon, 9 people) A small group grew as the AM wore on & more folks arrived.

INNER POET (Kealoha, 5 people) Small group worked hard. Gene shared a disturbing story the next night.

TO BEGIN WITH (Lyn Ford, 18 folks) a comfortable, well choreographed series of exercises & discussions.


Canoe rides were popular and so was the Quiche.


PIC/1000 WORDS (Rikki Jo Hickey, 10 folks) read Pam’s comments

STORY SLAM, Shain Miller & Alia Dolphin, 23 folks) Here’s an article reflecting on Camp by Maui’s Star Storyteller, Kathy Collins, a confessional note by an established star in Hawaii coming to find herself as a storyteller in this Story Slam workshop.


MY OPINION (Ford, Stotter, Post, 12 folks) I sat through a good chunk of this intimate workshop. The vibe was open and inviting, the comments focused & instructive, the structure showcased the diversity of styles & opinions, and it seemed to be very useful for the tellers. As an audience member, it was engaging, and I love each of the 3 women commenting. Penny Post (Mass.) found herself in a totally new environment (Hawaii, beach), told a good bit in many settings, and was acknowledged in the Closing for coaching Roopal. It was good to spend so much time with Penny. In the Tues Story Slam, (and Wed @ Mission Houses) she told of her skinny dip Monday afternoon as others hiked!


SNACK with fresh baked cookies!


BUBBLES (Karen Force, 16 folks, WOW!) & TITA TALES (Kathy Collins) Who can tell tales when there are bubbles the size of a car floating by?

Kathy Collins flew in from Maui for the day (see her article above). She was overshadowed by the bubbles (sigh- my scheduling fault- too bad). LOTS of oohs at the HHhhuuggeee bubbles glistening in the afternoon light.

LOOK DEEPER (Ruth Stotter, 12 folks) I sat through this to start as Ruth discussing the symbolism of two Grimm Tales. Late in the day (would have been better in AM), it required concentration and I wasn’t following. I left. Ruth felt bad about this session. Mary Roney shared that her 15 year old was really mad when Dad Derek pulled her away to see bubbles- she was totally into the analysis. Ruth had a rough Camp- the tent she brought was missing a pole, she was surprised to find this workshop on Saturday, was brilliant in the Coaching session, but this session fell a bit flat. Monday’s Sacred Falls hike proved too tiring, and closing camp, she grew faint. …rough Camp.

HULA (Ilima, 20? folks) Too bad she showed up so late- everybody jumped in as other workshops were closing- fun lady, fun (short) session. I was pulled to the Imu.

IMU: Friday I called Emil Wolfgramm to report the final dinner count, 65. He revealed he was double-booked- “do you have another plan?” “No, I advertised what you said you’d do, I know you as a man of your word, double- booking isn’t my problem, think of an alternative.” As Friday dinner was on with folks arriving, Emil came to get money for the food. Saturday AM I noticed a fire was set for the stones, and his gang was back & forth all afternoon. He presided (a bit hobbled). Dominique had tongs & tables. The reveal of the food was spectacular (thanks Misa), as all helped move & cut veggies & meat for dinner, and there was plenty to feed us well. Dominique would be consumed with cleaning up for the rest of the night.


GUEST CONCERT: Kathy Collins (as ‘Tita’, a sassy local) translated into pidgin a story told section by section by Sharon Shorty (as ‘Grandma Suzie’, a sassy Tligit elder). They’d bonded during a tour to Yellowknife, Canada last year. We laughed until we cried- a highlight for sure! Linda Yemoto, Penny Post, Ruth Stotter (starting 3 times), & Mike Lockett told, & Gene Tagaban closed with his Raven costume tale. WOW!


NIGHT SHADOW SHOW: I wanted to throw shadows on a tent, and did. Looking back, I wish I’d ended quicker and opened it up to everybody, but almost nobody spoke up when that finally came.


The CAMPFIRE was popular, until it started to rain. Dominique was dead in bed when Shain called me back out, then came “The Vision’ of Sharon Shorty wearing a plastic rain poncho, sitting in a chair with a flashlight underneath, a luminous igloo! And HER HANDS made SHADOWS! That’s gonna be some kind of show! In the Closing Ceremony, she gave me the poncho & flashlight (Fun!)



I woke to find Dominique crying- “too much work, no help in sight, Shain & Alia leaving, no fun, no stories.” Caroline, as always, was organizing the kitchen for the meals after her departure by coffee time with Dominique.

NATURE DOINGS (Linda Yemoto & Mary Roney, 9 folks) Linda got rave revews from Mary Roney (Ed Director at Waikiki Aquarium) for this environmental tell & craft session (Mary wants to have her back for a training) and Linda earned Dominique’s ‘welcome at our house anytime’ approval due to pitching in continually to help. She definitely ‘gets’ production!

TLINGIT TALES (Sharon Shorty, Gene Tagaban, 29 folks) This was the first time they’d presented together, mixing tales, talk with each other & us, fielding questions… relaxed, provocative, powerful tales. Sharon’s tale of smoke follows the guilty- a two-timing husband’s other wife gets combs stuck into her head by the first wife- chilling revenge.


—- Lunch, 3 canoe trips——

TELLING KID TALES (Mike Lockett, Ill. 26 folks)  joined us with his wife after visiting family in Kona Saturday, and ran this popular kid’s workshop, and contributed a mighty Jump tale to the Monday night Teen Spooky show.

HAWAII TELLS (Alton Chung, Jeff Gere, 12 folks) Thank God Alton is my talented friend! Lopaka Kapanui did not show up (or call). I was so so tired. I did what I could- shared good stories I knew well & passed to Alton, who did well. We ended early.


CLOSING CEREMONY (25 folks) We rewound the Opening, with kava, as all said their peace. I’ve laughed several times over this- giving lei to guest tellers, I remarked that men give lei to women, women to men, so I’ve asked Shain to help (as she stops & glares, big laughs) to be the female, of course… and the ceremony really did end the Camp. Gene (as Raven) blessed all to close the Ceremony (Wow). I felt a lot better after hearing these appreciations. Many said goodbyes and left.

Kris Vos labored and got a campfire started. We shared tales of ‘how we met him/her” by Gene/Ruby, Kris/Deb Vos, Jeff/Dominique.



A handful of guests cleaned up, went to tour Charlie Reppun’s farm, and hiked Sacred Falls. Gene & Ruby left with the Kris & Deb Vos. After a hasty dinner, we did a Teen Spooky show. My voice was shot and too soft. Thankfully, Mike Lockett, Penny, Linda, and Alton also told to about 75 teenagers gathered under 4 tents in the middle of the baseball field. No campfire- we were too tired.



We moved out of Camp. Beth Ruze helped transport. Penny, Ruth & Linda came to our house with tons of stuff. We spent the afternoon talking and sorting. Jerry Vasconcellos picked up what we left and brought it by a few days after.

STORY SLAM was really fun at Ong King, with Genevieve, Debi, Jackson, Shannon & Shirley from Camp joining Shain (Alia was sick), Jeff, Penny Ruth & Linda. And there were a few others along for the ride too.



Linda, Penny & I toured the Mission Houses, & Linda went to the airport. Penny explored downtown Honolulu & we met for the final tell at Mission Houses Museum. Caroline Davis, our powerhouse cook, with husband Bill, Dominique, Beth and a few more gathered in a small circle for a relaxed sharing. Then Penny, Jeff & Dominique went to a party, where Mary Roney went off on how great was our Camp. I loved hearing about it. Penny flew back to Mass. Thursday afternoon after a morning swim in the Pacific.

It is Sunday now. We’ve about washed everything, have given away or stored a mountain of tents, bags and effects. We are eating into the stuffed refrigerator. We take naps. Things are returning to normal. We continually discuss the whos, whats, whys, hows & remember

                                CONCLUSIONS: LOOKING HARD

My feet are flat and my smile is broad and tanned. Everybody wants us to do it again, which may happen, but not soon. Dominique’s daily refrain: ‘Never Again.’ Perhaps in some form in two years, but that’s a discussion to have with her & the local talents later. Potluck? Set up your own tents for guests? Two workshops sessions, not three =  just one workshop session in the afternoon? All ideas to consider (later), but


   there are some stark truths I must  consider:

This was way too much work for too few people. I don’t have a base that ‘shows up’, including the local storytellers. I got press, I did not get numbers, even from friends. The local community seems largely indifferent. All the guest tellers were amazing! A few required lots of attention (often understandable, too often unnecessary). This deepens the fatigue. Yeah, Camp was quite a wonderful, deep, & exhausting vision that came to life (with the help of many talented friends). So finally, now, please  savor the experience.


Thanks, thanks & thanks again for you who came, who presented, & who contributed.

Jeff Gere

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