The second day of Camp Mighty I looked into the skill sessions. (I’m not sure what happened to me during the Friday skill sessions, but it seemed more important to black out for a couple of hours in a cozy, cozy hotel bed.) The session devoted to sabering open champagne bottles got cancelled because of the rain, so I went into the tent by the pool and discovered a man named Adam furiously making balloon animals. I was kind of like, Hmm, this doesn’t really interest me but no one else is here and I don’t want him to feel bad, so I stuck around. I watched him make a brown balloon monkey holding onto a yellow balloon banana:
When enough people had gathered around, he started handing out balloons and explaining some basics. Always twist with your dominant hand; always twist in the same direction because if you start twisting away from yourself and then halfway through switch to twisting toward yourself, your twists will come undone. Don’t be afraid of the balloon popping, go ahead and just twist the hell out of it. (It’s worth the extra couple of dollars to get the good balloons, though, as the cheap ones don’t hold up under serious twisting.)
But what I really learned from spending fifteen minutes doing this is that so many skills that look odd or unattainable or mysterious can be broken down into a few simple steps, and that after you practice them and gain some confidence with your materials and with your body, you can do almost anything. Or make a motorcycle.
I thanked Adam and then decided not to go over to the How to Throw a Punch session because I already knew how to break a board with my hand.
I walked over to a small yurt where the How to Give a Great Neck Massage session was happening. There I learned several more things.
- “Pull the meat off the bone” is the key to Thai massage in general, but deltoid massage in particular
- There are a string of pressure points along the scapula that, when pressed even slightly, will make a person say, “OW” followed quickly by “YES, RIGHT THERE” and “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON’T STOP”
- You can press with all your might on someone’s head with your finger pads like you’re trying to squish their brains out their ears and it won’t actually hurt them, it will feel good
- Don’t massage anyone’s neck arteries or you’ll obstruct the flow of blood to their brain and they’ll pass out
I was gingerly trying to find Cameron’s deltoid muscle when the massage therapist came around, put her hands over mine, and showed me how to lift and gently pull them toward me, and the confidence of her touch transferred into my hands and I got it. It was like when a golf pro wraps their arms around you to teach you how to swing, except not as creepy.
So again: learn some techniques+ get comfortable with the motions + practice = enviable skill that your family and friends will enjoy, plus it will help put an anxious, talkative child to sleep after you’ve been away for three days.