ABOUT BC WITCHCAMP
Camp is an opportunity to spend a week creating community together in a beautiful natural setting.
During this time we engage in all manner of sacred drama, mystical adventure, earth worship, and wildly powerful personal and communal growth. A typical day includes a two-hour “path” session after breakfast. Path is your course of study and continues consecutively each day. After lunch, campers meet in small affinity groups to share their camp experiences and/or enjoy other bonding activities. The rest of the afternoon is free time for personal practice, walking in the old growth forest, and playing in and around the lake – canoes and paddleboards are available for our use.
Most evenings there is a powerful ritual reflecting and building on the camp intention and story.
Much more than this happens at camp! Nothing is compulsory—a central tenet of camp is “you are your own authority in community.” People considering attending camp should also know that at camp, magic has a political intention, aimed at dismantling all systems of oppression and restoring reverence for nature as the centre of all we humans do.
Statement to Reclaiming on Anti-racist Practices
The BC Witchcamp Organizers express our explicit support of the “Statement to Reclaiming on Anti-racist Practices” offered by members of Decolonizing Actions in Reclaiming Communities (DARC). As an organizing cell, we acknowledge that the reflections shared within this statement are common experiences among BIPOC and Mixed Race Reclaiming witches, including members of own camp community, and we center the voices and wisdom of these Reclaiming leaders of color.
The BC Witchcamp Org echoes the invitations in this statement for white-identified people in our community, ourselves included, to continue a path of unlearning racism and decentering whiteness in service of the collective liberation of all people and the earth. We see these 9 invitations as magical strategies to embody our Principles of Unity and we celebrate the opportunity to create more safety and security for BIPOC and Mixed Race Reclaiming witches at BC Witchcamp and within the broader reclaiming community.
Special thanks to Horizon for drafting this letter.
Click to expand below for more details:
Camp is an intensive, immersive experience of community, nature, and transformational magic. Anywhere from 60 to 100 people, some new to camp (and perhaps to magical practices altogether), some who trace their participation back to the camp’s founding, spend a week together engaging in all manner of sacred drama, mystical adventure, earth worship, and wildly powerful personal and communal growth.
A typical day includes a two-hour “path” session after breakfast. Path is your course of study and continues consecutively each day. After lunch, campers meet in small affinity groups to share their camp experiences and/or enjoy other bonding activities. The rest of the afternoon is free time for lake play, optional offerings, napping, volunteering, etc.
Most evenings there is a powerful ritual for the whole camp community, led by the teaching team with participation from campers. This ritual reflects and builds on the camp intention and story, and each follows, thematically, the one before it, creating an arc over the week. Ritual may include deep trance, sacred theatre, storytelling, spell weaving, movement, emotional intensity, and of course the raising and release of energy.
Much more than this happens at camp! Below you will read about the Temple, the Marketplace, the Talent Show, and more. Nothing is compulsory-a central tenet of camp is “you are your own authority.” We add to that, “…in community.” People considering attending camp should also know that at camp, magic has political intention, aimed at dismantling all systems of oppression and restoring reverence for nature as the beloved centre of all we humans do.
ESSENTIAL INFO FOR FIRST-TIME CAMPERS
If you are driving and have not been here before the rural road off the Sea to Sky Highway can be a bit confusing. The actual turn-off onto the dirt road to Evans Lake does not have overly visible signage and can be easily missed. Keep an eye out for the Cheakamus Center entrance that will come up on your right – on the left there is a turn-off with a dirt parking lot. Drive straight through the parking lot and up the dirt road. It also should be noted that while just about any vehicle can make it up the road, it can be bumpy and rocky.
Upon arrival, you will check-in and receive your schedule and information package. The schedule outlines the weeks’ events, mealtimes, optional offers, etc. The information package will go into detail on each “Path” (course of study for that week). If you have not attended Witchcamp previously or have not yet taken “Elements of Magic”, this will be your Path as it is a prerequisite for all other Paths.
Welcome Meeting & Introductions
In the early evening, there will be a welcome meeting. Organizers will introduce themselves and go over some basics for camp. They will also go around the circle (which you are all seated in) and ask that you introduce yourself. You are welcome to identify your preferred pronouns, your desired name (witch or muggle name), and where you are from or where you currently live.
Many witches prefer to acknowledge the name of their pre-colonized land or territory, both out of respect and to bring awareness to land rights. If you are unsure which territory you live on, a good website is: https://native-land.ca/
For more information visit: https://native-land.ca/territory-acknowledgement/
“Elements of Magic” Path Requirement
‘Elements of Magic Path’ is the first-level course and prerequisite for all other Paths. This must be completed either before you come or during your first year at camp. You will take this Path instead of any other Path. Elements of magic covers the basics of magical practice – although individual teachers will teach this slightly differently, the path is intended to introduce you to the 5 elements (earth, water, air, fire, and spirit).
Clothes, Costumes, Witchy Outfits
You are welcome to wear anything you want, be whoever or whatever you want. Be your absolute truth. This is your experience.
“You Are Your Own Spiritual Advisor”
You may hear this from time to time at camp. What this means is you are in no way obligated to do anything. The Org is there to facilitate the events and help in any way they can, but not to enforce or require anything of you. This is your week to embrace magic and that comes in many forms – and usually when you really listen to yourself, and not others. That said, if you decide to go adventuring, please tell someone – it is still important for all campers to be safe and safety minded.
Bears, Cougars and other Squamish Fauna
If you are from the area, then you may already be aware of the wildlife in Squamish. If not, it is important to understand and familiarize yourself with them. Cougars sightings are very rare, usually because they are wary of humans and stay away. Bears, on the other hand, tend to be nervous but more likely to be seen and very drawn to food and garbage. It is vitally important that garbage, especially in tents, be properly stored – or stored in the camp kitchen. Food will attract bears, raccoons and other animals like the pine marten. All of which can become aggressive if they are battling for food. Also, the unfortunate truth is a bear that has become human habituated will likely be destroyed by wildlife control.
If you come across a bear or cougar – DO NOT RUN – this kickstarts their primal hunting instincts. Make yourself as large as you can and make loud confident noises. Pick up a large stick or some other threatening object. The animal knows that an injury could be a death sentence in the wild, so they will try to avoid that. A cougar usually only presents itself if you are near a kill and they are warning you to stay away. You will want to keep eye contact and back away slowly. Black bears tend not to be aggressive, but give them a wide berth and make noises to scare them away from any human populated areas.
If you go hiking in one of the areas many beautiful hikes, go with a buddy – and also let someone at camp know where you plan to go.
PREREQUISITES FOR CAMP
Please notice that the path descriptions include skill level and prerequisite information. If you are new to the Reclaiming Tradition or to witchcraft in general, know that you are welcome at BCWC. Know also that your experience at camp will be greatly enriched by some preparation before camp. Consider reading The Spiral Dance by Starhawk, or visiting and reading the content at www.reclaiming.org.
ELEMENTS OF MAGIC AND PATHS
Elements of Magic
‘Elements of Magic Path’ is the first-level, core Reclaiming course or basic magic class/workshop and a prerequisite for all other Paths. This must be completed either before you come or during your first year at camp. You will take this Path instead of any other Path. Elements of magic will cover the basics of magical practice – although individual teachers will teach this slightly differently, the path is intended to introduce you to the 5 sacred elements of life (earth, water, air, fire, and spirit).
The Elements of Magic class will always be offered at Camp – but if you wish, you may take it prior to camp. Elements of Magic is offered elsewhere including as an online course. Once you have taken Elements of Magic you are then welcome to take any other path.
As well, you may also take Elements of Magic if you wish to reacquaint yourself with magic or would like a refresher – it is not only limited to newcomers.
Paths are workshops or classes we take during camp. You choose/attend a Path during camp. Paths are taken (mostly) every day and start after breakfast and go until just before lunch. It is recommended that you participate in a Path as it will help you to connect with other campers and give you a chance to work with an experienced practitioner. That said, you are not required to join a Path. If you choose you may use your time at camp for self-reflection, solo-practice or simply to enjoy the mountains.
However, as a courtesy to your path-mates and teacher, we ask that once you have committed to being part of a Path you stick with it.
On day one of camp, Path Teachers will give you an overview of each Path and you will choose based on what speaks to you most. You do not need to decide ahead of time.
Evans Lake Forestry Camp is brimming with magic. Nestled in the aptly-named Paradise Valley, the camp’s heart is the tranquil lake which generously provides swimming, canoeing, paddle boarding, and ritual dips. There is an iconic willow tree, mossy rainforest, trails in the woods, a big field for spiral dances and hanging out, and a ring of majestic mountains all around.
A large recreation hall provides space for indoor ritual, meetings, and our talent show and dance. The food hall offers both indoor and outdoor seating. The camp is an hour and a half drive from Vancouver, 15 kilometres north of Squamish BC.
TRANSPORTATION TO CAMP
Carpooling to camp is highly recommended, because of limited parking, to lessen the impact of cars on the environment, and because it’s a great way to build community. Once again we will offer an online ride-sharing system. If you can offer or need a ride, please use the ride-sharing system by using this link http://www.groupcarpool.com/t/30okpy.
The cabins have bunk beds and sleep eight to 12 people. They are electrically heated. Campers must bring their own sleeping bag or sheets, pillows, and blankets. Toilets, sinks and hot showers are in a separate building. Our washrooms and cabins have no gender designation.
There is tenting space in the woods for people who want privacy and/or a deeper connection with the forest. The registration fee is the same as for cabins. Space is assigned on a first-come, first served basis.
Campers are welcome, upon arrival, to negotiate sharing cabin space with other campers to meet their needs. Please use a top bunk if you can, and offer bottom bunks to people with mobility limitations. One cabin will be dedicated as 100% scent-free (camp’s goal to be 100% scent free everywhere, but we may not be there yet).
Three delicious meals are served daily in the dining hall with vegetarian and some meat options. The Evans Lake kitchen offers non-dairy and wheat-free meals for those who require it; however, please know that it is not possible for the kitchen staff or within our budget to meet every dietary requirement. For severely restricted diets, please consider bringing supplements. There is no fridge space guaranteed for campers. Cooking facilities are not available to campers.
Please complete the “food” section on the registration form. Note that the cost of preparing all the varieties of special meals is the primary driver for increased costs and resulting in increased camper fees. When considering special diets, please base your selections on physical need rather than preference.
The BCWC community is committed to working hard, being creative, and continuously learning in order to make our camp fully accessible to all people. An Accessibility Committee formed after 2018 camp, with a mandate focusing on physical accessibility (including scent free stuff) at this time. We work within limitations of budget, geography, infrastructure, and the challenge of balancing differing needs. This is a nature camp with hilly terrain and other barriers. If you are concerned about physically managing camp, contact email@example.com for more information, including photos.
We are a scent-free camp. Scents and perfumes cause life-threatening reactions for some members of our community. We ask ALL campers to not bring any scented products to camp and to phase out the use of scented products in the weeks leading up to camp. If you need essential oils for genuine medical reasons, get in touch with us to discuss options.
The Accessibility Committee has also discussed financial accessibility, realizing that this overlaps with other committee mandates. We recognize how complex it is to create a truly accessible space. This topic is essential to our magic and is one we will continue to discuss and reconfigure based on our various individual and collective needs. Like all community spaces and gatherings, we are in this together; let’s do this work together too!
DIVERSITY AND EQUALITY
We honour diversity and welcome all races, sexual orientations, genders, and differences of life situation, background, identity, and ability. BC Witchcampers are learning about the ways systemic oppression manifests not just in the world but in our own community, and we are embracing change in our practices to serve our goal of dismantling all forms of oppression.
Ongoing work at camp and throughout the year, such as 2017’s workshop led by members of the BCWC Liberation Working Group, have brought energy and magical intention to the ways camp supports and doesn’t support diversity, and how it can grow and evolve. This work belongs to the whole camp community and is ongoing. We invite all campers to consider ways they can contribute.
Our vibrant and colourful market reflects the creativity of our community and provides a lively meeting place. You must be a registered camper to be a vendor. Vendors contribute 13% of all sales and services to our Financial Assistance Fund. Also, we have The Witches’ Funk Trunk Boutique, a very cool and funky place to shop. Donations of used-but-good ritual wear, costumes, and accessories for the Funk Trunk are welcome.
As well, campers can offer body work and healing, divination, and other services, also with 13% tithed to our Financial Assistance Fund.
Please indicate when you register if you wish to be a vendor of wares or services. You are welcome to promote your products and services inside the Marketplace and on designated areas outside the dining hall. We ask that you refrain from making promotional announcements in other spaces.
Aside from the formal camp offerings of paths, rituals, affinity groups and a few meetings, all campers are very welcome to offer activities of any kind—yoga, chanting, crafts, boy band worship, discussions, workshops, skills-sharing, and much, much more. There will be a sign-up sheet outside the dining hall where you can enter your optional offering into the schedule and post information.
THE TEMPLE AND SEXUALITY AT CAMP
BCWC includes a sacred space for opening to beauty and delight—the Temple. This space can be reserved by individuals or groups seeking privacy, and it also hosts facilitated workshops, events, and optional offerings.
Camp is a sex-positive culture. This means we affirm and celebrate sexuality’s role in our collective magic and healing, and we honour everyone’s right to define their own relationship to their body and sex. Sex positivity is a spell working to weave together visions of healing, desire, autonomy, choice, reciprocity, and presence. What sex-positivity looks like is different for different people, and different at different times, and it doesn’t mean anyone has to have sex or want sex.
We believe everyone has the right to sexuality without violence or shame, and that sexuality begins with consent. Only yes means yes, and yes should come from an enthusiastic and engaged partner. The honouring of others’ boundaries is essential at camp. BCWC is working towards a code of conduct to provide a framework for dealing with concerns. The team intends to have a finalized version in early April; reading & agreeing to this policy will become part of the registration process. Watch for updates on Facebook and in your inbox.
Temple Priestess – Syr Reifsteck
I am a femme changeling and a wild trans dreamer. My magic is embodied, playful, giddy, felt and made of glitch, time, fractures, promises, and ecstasy. I fiercely believe in: relationships and accountability and change to both places and people, our ability to support one another, the necessity of practice, transformation and justice woven together, stories.
I am reknitting the whispers and responsibilities sent from my ancestors who are Choctaw, Irish, German and Polish. I am tending and priestessing the Temple of the Heart’s Hive this year, and invite you to come chat about Temple support, offerings, ideas.
NUDITY, SMOKING, CELL PHONES & INTERNET
N U D I T Y
Yes. However, not in the dining hall or near to where staff resides.
S M O K I N G
Smoking is permitted only in the smokers’ tent, with these limitations: no smoking 15 minutes prior to or after any ritual that is on the field; also, smoking is prohibited while path is in session near the dining hall and/or the willow tree. This is a new policy based on extensive feedback and discussion.
We recognize that this may be difficult for smokers. We highly appreciate everyone’s cooperation to ensure camp is fully accessible, and that the magnificent forest is protected from the very high risk of forest fire.
C E L L P H O N E S & I N T E R N E T
The use of cell phones is limited to designated areas only (outside the staff cabins; in the parking lot). Please honour this. For many campers, the retreat from technology deepens the power of camp. There Is limited cell phone reception and no WiFi at camp.
SAFER SPACES POLICY + CODE OF CONDUCT
BCWC is a registered Society which requires us to have policies to deal with bullying and harassment in our organization. The Safer Spaces committee was formed by a group of volunteers at BCWC 2018 with the goal to create a policy so we can be in compliance with the law. The policy is still open for discussion and changes, and will be on the agenda of one of our camp meetings. We hope all campers will take the time to read the policies before coming to camp. We also acknowledge that Canadian Law is colonial law and may not fit all of us comfortably. The Safer Spaces committee acknowledges that we were made up of a diverse group of genders and experiences, but did not have BIPOC representation in the group. This is part of the reason why an invitation is being sent out to add your thoughts or suggestions at camp or talk to an Org member or community elder. In gratitude to the Safer Spaces Committee and Spiralheart for giving us permission to use their policy.
Creating Safer Spaces at Camp
Our goal in creating this policy is to ensure you are supported in the complex and, at times, intense work that witchcamp represents. BCWC would like to acknowledge Spiralheart and Paganicon (an organization that helped Spiralheart develop their policy) organizers for creating their Safer Spaces policies from which much of the following policy has been gratefully borrowed!
The Safer Space Policy will also allow us to:
- Be in compliance with Canadian Law
- Maintain transparency around BCWC Org/Board processes
- Show participants that we take their well-being seriously
- Explicitly state what behavior is, and is not, acceptable at our events
- Ensure that decisions about people who exhibit problematic behavior are made based on formal, documented, complaints and first-hand accounts (as opposed to gossip or rumor)
- Establish a history of recurrent problematic behaviors and/or individuals
We call it a Safer Space Policy (and not a Safe Space Policy) because no group can promise complete safety, and because Witchcamp is supposed to be a container for taking risks more safely, not a place that’s completely risk free. Our work is magical, and powerful, and we hope attendees will choose to push their growing edges, which can indeed feel risky. Our intent is to ensure that all are able to take those risks in a supportive and compassionate space; a safer space than what the outside world generally provides.
Building a secure magical container to hold our work is essential —Compassion, Patience, Understanding, and Love. We ask you to help us do this by attending camp in a spirit of Tolerance, and above all, Acceptance.
Celebrate diversity. You’re sure to meet people whose spiritual tradition, national origin, race, age, sexual orientation, ability, gender identity, economic situation, physical appearance, and lifestyle differ greatly from your own. We challenge you to think well of others and be curious—no matter the differences that may exist between you.
By attending camp, you agree to abide by the Code of Conduct detailed in the following section of the Safer Space Policy. BC witchcamp ORG reserves the right to eject, and/or ban from future events, any individual found to be in violation of this code.
BCWC is a sober community, and requires that there be no drugs or alcohol at any of its events—including witchcamp. Please respect this by adhering to our drug-free policy throughout the week. If you take prescription medicine, please continue to do so.
If you use cannabis medicinally – we ask that you bring edibles or topical for your personal use only. If you must use vapor or smoke, please notify the org when you register firstname.lastname@example.org and we can provide guidance.
CODE OF CONDUCT
We ask you to be willing to open yourself up to hear feedback without defending or explaining and that you provide feedback with compassion and an understanding that all of us are working toward a culture free of oppression.
If someone’s speech or behaviour appear to be disrespectful of a group of people, we ask that you ask questions first as a person’s identity is not always apparent and this person may have an affiliation with the group in question. We invite you to do this with compassion and coming from a place of curiosity, rather than accusation. If the idea of speaking up seem daunting, please contact an org, community elder, or long-time camper.
Culture of Enthusiastic Consent
Our goal is to create a culture in which everyone can freely engage in expression of their bodies and sexuality; a culture in which everyone is confident in expressing their boundaries and speaking up when uncomfortable; anda culture in which everyone is respectful of the boundaries expressed by others.
We ask that you seek EnthusiasticConsentfrom sexual partners. “No” means no, “Ummm” means no, “Not right now” means no, “I’m not sure” means no, “I’m uncomfortable” means no. “Yes!” and “Omigods yes!” means yes.
If you are ever unsure whether your behavior is welcome, STOP and obtain enthusiastic consent before proceeding.
Definitions of Unwelcome Behavior
BCWC does not tolerate any form of sexual misbehavior and will take action to either educate or bar violators from its events. The following behaviors are considered inappropriate and unacceptable at BCWC.
Sexual assault and rape, stalking, violation of restraining orders, drugging victims with the intent of taking advantage of their incapacitation are unacceptable. Unwelcome or unwanted: harassment, lewd comments, sharing or taking of photographs of a sexual/private nature, physical contact/groping, invasion of personal space, and any ongoing sexual pursuit or harassing flirtation. If it makes a person uncomfortable and the antagonist has been asked to stop already, it is an infringement regardless of actual physical harm. If it is wanted or welcome, it is not an infringement.
Physical, Mental & Emotional Abuse
- Physical– assault, threats of bodily injury, non-consensual rough play, forcing a person into any physical situation against their will through use of force or threats.
- Mental/Emotional – intimidation, harassment, bullying, personal insults specifically designed to make the target feel ill at ease, angry, or sad; racist remarks; the express exclusion of certain people based on gender or sex, sexual orientation, race, belief system, age, or political affiliation from participating in any camp activity (optional offerings, affinity groups, rituals, etc.).
Please note: Groups/individuals wishing to organize a camp activity for a specific group of people (e.g. a POC affinity group or femme ritual) are encouraged and welcome to do so, as long as the intent is not to abuse other people.
Filing a Complaint
As organizers we believe it is our job to create a space that is as safe as possible and to address these kinds of concerns expressed by ritual participants without identifying that person (unless they wish to be identified). This is standard practice at many community events. Our rationale is rooted in the recognition that it isn’t always safe enough for a participant who may or may not be part of our community, and who may or may not be a BIPOC person (or a person from other marginalized identities and social locations) to address concerns like these directly.
BCWC is committed to maintaining camp as a safer space, and responding proactively to all complaints is a part of that. If someone is violating the Code of Conduct, or making you feel uncomfortable in some way, a member of the Complaint Response Team/Org needs to know so that we can take action—even if that action is just to listen. These are the folks to speak with if a behavioral issue comes up during the week. If an incident does occur, and either you or the individual to whom you report the issue, feel that it is problematic enough, they will record a formal complaint.
All formal complaints will be recorded in an area away from others in order to provide privacy and maintain confidentiality. A member of the Response Team/Org will record your complaint including the following details:
- Name of person against whom complaint is being filed
- Complete description of inappropriate behavior with full situational context
- Location, date and time of incident
- Names of anyone who may have witnessed the incident
- Any physical evidence of incidence on complainant
If the complaint involves inappropriate sexual behavior, the Response Team will ask whether the aggressor was asked to stop the behavior. This does not reflect on the credibility of the complainant—we will not engage in victim blaming. Our intent in asking this is to discern whether the aggressor was told that their behavior was unwanted and unwelcome so that we know whether further education is required. Some people may be unaware of social cues for a variety of reasons (e.g. neurological illness, etc.) or believe “anything goes” at a Pagan event. Therefore we encourage you to communicate when someone is crossing your boundaries, when you are able to do so. If the aggressor was aware, or was told, that their behavior was unwanted and unwelcome then it is sexual misconduct (as described above) and should be filed in a formal complaint.
Both the Response Team member and the complainant will sign the complaint. The person against whom the complaint is filed has a right to know what is in the complaint. Complaints will be kept confidential. Confidentiality means that relevant information will only be disclosed to those involved in the investigation and decision making process.
Both complainants and respondents have the right to ask that a member of the Complaint Response Team be appointed to act as an advocate on their behalf. An advocate’s responsibility is to safeguard the interests of the person who has requested their assistance. An advocate is empowered to speak on that person’s behalf and will provide emotional support when appropriate.
Consequences of Formal Complaints
One of our goals in establishing a formal complaint process is to ensure BCWC can remove persons of concern from our events. It is not our place to judge anyone, or declare them innocent or guilty. But whether we continue to trust a person after reported instances of misconduct and allow them access to our events, putting our participants’ safety in jeopardy, is another matter. It bears repeating that we will not take any action based on rumor or gossip, but only on actual first-hand reports of misbehavior. After a formal complaint has been filed, it will be processed in the following manner:
- The Response Team is empowered to assess all complaints. They will determine whether it is the first complaint made against this individual, or whether there have been previous related complaints. They will coordinate and report to the Org.
- They will assess the level of risk to determine if the individual should be immediately ejected from camp, or if it is minor enough not to cause serious harm. Any witnesses to the incident named by the complainant will be sought out for input.
- If the incident is determined to be a minor infraction, the Response Team is empowered to speak with the individual against whom a complaint has been filed (in complete confidentiality). The Response Team will ask for their side of the story, whether their behavior was deemed inappropriate or unwelcome, and assess whether the person can learn from the situation. They may be asked to read the definitions of unwelcome behavior as detailed in our Code of Conduct above. The Response Team will inform the person that their behavior will be monitored going forward and that further violations may lead to ejection from the camp and/or being barred from future events.
- In cases where ejection from camp is a possibility (the behavior is determined to be a clear violation of our Code of Conduct, represented serious threat of physical/mental harm, has recurred in several independent complaints, is confirmed by witnesses, admitted by the perpetrator, etc.) the Response Team will gather as many members of the BCWC board of Organizers as possible who will then use consensus process to make that decision.
- If the board decides to eject an individual from camp, they will be asked to leave immediately. This decision will be recorded in our records.
- Following the event the board/Org will discuss whether the individual will be welcome at future events.
- Confidential records will be maintained by the Response Team and given to the Org at the end of each camp.
STATEMENT TO RECLAIMING ANTI-RACIST PRACTICES
Chack back for information about swag and when it will be available for our 2019 camp. We will source products we believe are good quality, and we have artists working on submissions based on this year’s potent intention. The selected artwork will decorate these items. Stay tuned for updates.