Here is the draft schedule for Epic Skill Swap 2017, June 9–12. Workshop descriptions are listed below the schedule in alphabetical order.
Note that we have open spaces for folks to lead workshops who weren’t involved in the initial workshop selection process. Please bring your last-minute workshops, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas.
Individualized Financial Coaching
with Jasmine W.
Note: This workshop is not on the schedule because it will happen a little differently — Jasmine will be offering private one-on-one office hours throughout the weekend.
Talking about money is generally a taboo in our culture. I have done a lot of research about personal (and some business) finance, and I absolutely love connecting with people to see how my knowledge and research can help them to make their financial dreams a reality. Budgeting, tracking, credit, dealing with debt, investing, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, retirement planning, saving for a house/car/something else, being more comfortable with how money flows in and out of your life, interest rates. I’ve helped dozens of people to think about how financial resources can serve them, rather than be stressful. If you have documents that would help us to make a better plan, please bring them, though I’m also happy to meet with people to just chat about their thoughts.
21st Century Abolition
with Tristan W.
The 13th Amendment of the constitution is held up as having abolished slavery, but the reality is that it only outlawed some slavery. Slavery continues today in the form of prisons, where, under the 13th amendment, prisoners are forced to work in a wide range of industries ranging from manufacturing to farming and even customer service. This workshop will introduce participants to the prison industrial complex and the concept of prison abolition including both the theory behind it and approaches to making it happen. Supplementary reading will be provided for folks interested in learning more. Resources will be provided for participants interested in connecting with prisoners after the workshop.
3-D Visualization: Pattern Draping
with Eliza W.
How does a two-dimensional material like fabric become a three-dimensional garments like a dress, coat, or pair of pants? One way to do this is a technique called draping, which involves wrapping textile around a person or mannequin to shape it into a garment. It is fast, intuitive, and is a great way to practice three dimensional visualization skills. We’ll go over some of the basics of draping as a tool for making sewing patterns, and we’ll also play around with some pieces of textile to make draped and tied garments like saris, togas, and more free-form creations.
Back Pocket Games
with Sonja B.
Over many summers of camp counseling, I amassed a back pocket full of fun, easy games that require no or few supplies, are quick to learn, and will keep kids (or adults!) occupied and smiling. Come play some of my faves, and bring your own to share!
with Ethan H-W
Learn basic carpentry skills to make useful things out of wood. We’ll learn about:
- the properties of wood
- how to measure and mark
- how to cut with a hand saw
- how to fasten with nails and glue
- how to design and plan a project
Each participant will be able to make a simple wood item (e.g. a shelf, a box, etc.) to take home. Absolutely no experience required.
with Ben W.
This workshop will serve as an introduction to meditation — going over the elements of posture, what to do with your breath, and how to work with your mind. The technique learned can be used as a part of a daily practice and some advice and resources on how to incorporate meditation into daily life will be given. I’ll also give a brief introduction to the history of Buddhist meditation. The technique we’ll cover is shamatha meditation, an extremely simple, traditional meditation technique that translates literally as “peaceful abiding.”
with Cedar S.
Learn or improve your bird identification skills! This will be the height of breeding season, when everything is singing, and we’ll explore the sights and sounds of the birds around Skill Swap. Bring binoculars if you have them.
with Sophi V.
Come carve some wooden things — spoons, butter knives, chopsticks. BYOK please.
Crossing the Bar
with Quena C.
What do folks never talk about and is frequently portrayed falsely in movies? Birth, sex, and dying. Let’s talk about dying. A frank, friendly, and respectful discussion about what to expect when a loved one is nearing or entering the end of their life. Space will be given to share stories of loved ones who have passed on and pay tribute to their memories. Bring a photo or a memory to share if you wish.
Drawing: Get Some Perspective
with Joseph S.
This is a ultra-basic intro to creating the illusion of depth on a 2 dimensional plane. We will work with pencils, paper, rulers, and… YOUR IMAGINATION. We’ll cover terms like the vanishing point, 1 point perspective, 2 point perspective (maybe 3 point perspective) and something I call the telephone pole rule. Create realistic looking worlds on a page!
Fire by Friction
with Eric G.
The ability to make fire using simple methods is a skill help dearly by many indigenous people, but that’s largely been lost by most people in modern societies. This workshop will offer participants an opportunity to learn how to make a controllable fire from a few simple tools: a wooden stick, a spindle, and a fireboard. The workshop will include a mix of demonstration as well as offering participants an opportunity to try their hand at getting a coal by rubbing sticks together and blowing it into a full flame.
Fusion Dancing 101
with Scott C.
Fusion is a modern dance style that combines patterns and techniques from Blues, West Coast Swing, and all other styles of partner dance.In this beginner-friendly Fusion workshop, we will learn how to have a wonderful dance experience with anyone, anywhere, to any style of music.(Scott has been teaching dance for 7 years, and attends workshops and intensives all over the world).
Game it up!
with Annie W.
This workshop is different every time I teach it, depending on who shows up to play with me…Seems like there’s always a good reason to stop being serious and do something ridiculous for a while. Maybe we’ll play superhero tag. Maybe we’ll design a new game no one’s ever played before. Maybe we’ll play an old classic like capture the flag using the entire camp as our playing field. I’m hoping to do a couple of short workshops instead of one long one so everyone can get in on the fun if they want to. Kids aren’t the only ones who are welcome. And if it’s raining, don’t worry, we’ll just play sardines around all of the other activities. Most likely games will be: non-competitive, some running around, goofing around, and maybe even dancing around.
Genealogy! Is it possible for you to be your own cousin?
with Orin N.
This workshop will look at starting your family genealogy. We will look at simple family interview skills, understanding your relationship to other members of your extended family, government, public and Internet resources, and finding historical records, as well as computer programs.
Giving Constructive Feedback
with Marisa K.
I’m an editor. You may think that an editor’s most important skill is knowing how to make writing awesome, but it’s actually just as important to know how to give feedback. I’ll teach a workshop about how to give constructive criticism. We will focus on critiquing writing to start with, but we can also apply the basic principles of good feedback to any situation when you would like to encourage someone to change what they’re doing.
Homemade Lip Balm, Salve and Hand Cream/Lotion
with Dana D-Y
You can totally make these common body products yourself. It’s cheaper than buying them at the store, and it also allows you to choose which oils and scents you want to use (or not) while avoiding the chemicals that often find their way into body products. All you need to make lip balm or salve is beeswax, an oil of choice, a stove, and a jar or tube to store it all in once it cools. Hand cream needs all these things plus a blender or food processor for a little magic emulsification. We can also talk about infusing oil with herbs to use as a base for making medicinal salves.I’ll bring the beeswax and oils, and maybe some essential oils. Bring a tiny jar or tube for lip balm, and a small jar for hand cream. (I’ll try to bring some but I may not have enough for everyone.) Bring your favorite essential oils if you like. Small materials fee for supplies ($1–$3).
Illuminating Patterns in Relationships
with Lisa & Ron
This workshop is designed for couples and will be most beneficial to those who have been in relationship for at least 6 months. All genders and sexual orientations are welcome. Come join us as we explore our relationship patterns together. Through a variety of exercises (including shared touch and gentle partner yoga) combined with introspective inquiry, journaling and paired/group sharing, we will discover and illuminate unconscious patterns that may not serve our relationship. We will also be introducing concepts that can help reframe them. Lisa and Ron, who have been in partnership for six years, draw upon 85 years of combined relationship experiences, which include relationships which could be described as dysfunctional, co-dependent, fiercely independent, peaceful, volatile, growthful, fun, harmonious, passionate, addictive, and most recently transformational. We are eager to share what we have learned on our journeys.
Intro to Brazilian Portuguese through Song
with Marie H.
“eu não ando sósó ando em boa companhiacom meu violão,minha canção,e a poesia” Oi gente! Tudo bom? In this workshop, I’ll teach a few basics of the beautiful Portuguese language. While I’ll share a few common phrases, I’ll be focusing primarily on pronunciation. That will allow us to learn some songs, which will most likely be folk songs from the northeast region of Brazil.
with Scott S.
From a limp, noodly, tangled mess, generate US-Canada border-agent-serious levels of force, and connections strong enough to keep that power bound up for years. Enter a world with as much variety as beetle taxonomy, and as much utility as a pocket-knife. The TSA cannot make you choose between mailing it to yourself or throwing it out. Aladdin will not wish them free. Come learn knots. Learn knots with me.
with Hollis E.
Kombucha is a food and a science project all in one jar. Take sweetened tea, add a mat of microorganisms like Acetobacter with yeast mixed in (at the swankier clubs, they call it a SCOBY: Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast), keep it warm and dark, and let time work its magic. Kombucha is one of those foods that either disgusts or enchants you. If you love it, or you’re curious, you’ll leave with a SCOBY, some ideas, a starter batch of tea, and an understanding of how to care for your newest microbial housemate.We’ll mix up a batch of ‘booch, pontificate on primary and secondary fermentation, muse on flavorings and fizz, and expound on (bottle) explosions and how to expertly expedite their avoidance. Palaver about pitfalls and possibilities and join the club of kombucha converts!
Make Maple Syrup and Maple Candy
with Wayne C.
I will bring some sap that has been boiled to nearly syrup. We will finish boiling it to syrup, using a hydrometer to determine when it is just the right density to be syrup. We will observe the increase in the boiling temperature as the density of the liquid increases. Then, we will continue boiling some of it until it is dense enough to make maple candy. We will have syrup and maple candy to sample and to share with others.
Massage Therapy and Alexander Technique
with Scott S.
Massage therapy is good and a beacon of hope in the world of usually-not-much-touch social-interaction; Alexander Technique is its much less well known college-professor sibling who goes so far as to ask you to purposely think and learn while it touches you. Massage is a love affair between you and your body; Alexander technique is a date to hash out house issues with your roommate under the kind moderation of a talented moderator. Why choose? Let’s get to know these complimentary disciplines together.
Mending as Art
with Hannah P.
Patching your jeans can be more than just slapping a piece of iron-on denim over the hole. In this workshop, we’ll use visible stitches and fabric scraps to add to torn clothing, instead of just covering it up. This will be a hand-sewing workshop, so we’ll also cover basic stitches. Brainstorming creative mending ideas will be welcome, and feel free to bring hole-y clothes along.
with Shana F.
Now that you’ve folded 1,000 cranes, what’s next? In this workshop, we will make geometric forms — Sonobe cubes and stellated octahedrons — by folding and assembling sets of identical origami units. You only need to learn one series of simple folds. Then repeat. Six units for a cube; twelve units for an octahedron. The challenge is to fit them together! I’ll bring stacks of origami paper. You’re welcome to bring your own with favorite colors or interesting designs. Discover how relaxing, even meditative, paperfolding can be.
with Chrisiant B.
Let’s strap some jingly bells on to our legs, whack sticks together, and jump about in this highly aerobic and silly-looking English folk dance! Steps build on basic skipping and no previous dance experience is needed. I’ll provide the jingly bells and sticks.
with Zane R.
We are all born with the most versatile instrument, but many people never experiment with its full range. In this workshop we will experiment with the different parts of our mouths and throats to do beatboxing, make animal sounds, and change our voices. No experience needed, only a willingness to play and share your own repertoire of mouth sounds.
Music/Sound improvisation game: COBRA!
with Anna P.
For instrumentalists, singers, and anybody who can make sounds. Cobra is a fun, fast-paced musical(-ish) game-piece by John Zorn. It’s structure might remind you more of a theater improv game than a piece of music. Participants signal a prompter to give the ensemble various cues, so that all the improvisers can momentarily take control of the shape of the piece. Cobra is a great structure for working on decisiveness and commitment in improvisation, and for exploring urges that may be inappropriate in politely democratic, nice-sounding jam sessions. If you participated last year, look forward to the addition of new cues and “guerrilla functions!”
Next Level Excel
with Sarah P.
Think spreadsheets are boring? Think again! Learn to bend Excel to your will and create gorgeous & functional tools for displaying and manipulating data.In this workshop, we will go beyond the basics of SUM() or AVERAGE() to explore the various magical tricks Excel has up its sleeves. For example, conditional formatting can identify errors in your data at a glance. Lookup formulas can automatically populate cells based on data stored elsewhere. Pivot tables can slice & dice your data to produce summary charts at the drop of a hat.Ideally, this will be a hands-on experience so bring your own computer with Excel installed. A sample dataset will be provided, or you can use your own. If you’re interested but don’t have the tech, come anyway and we’ll all share the available resources.If you’ve ever wondered “Can Excel really do that?” the answer is likely YES! Bring any specific questions or conundrums you’ve run into and we’ll tackle them together.
Perfect Pie Dough
with Alice S.
You know that nice flakey pie dough that is a delight? I can make it every time, and it turns out it’s easy! I’ll show you some of my favorite filling to go with the dough too!
Political Organizing: Running for Office
with Meghan K.
In a time of political uncertainty and fear, many people feel powerless. And there is no better way to combat the problems of the world than to get organized–whether your goal is to run for office, start or support a community initiative, or simply make yourself and your community heard, organizing is the first step. Meghan is a City Councilor in Rhode Island who ran and won her first political race last year. We’ll start with a general overview of political organizing, how the electoral process works, and how to get started running for office. We will cover getting started, reaching people, overcoming shyness, best practices, some common hurdles, facilitation issues, and point participants towards further trainings and resources.
Sharpening Knives with Mugs and Belts
with Hollis E.
Re-offered, by request. Sharp knives are safer, more satisfying, and more efficient than dull ones. But if you’ve ever watched a TV infomercial, you’ll know that it’s impossible to sharpen knives without a whole DRAWER full of expensive sharpening paraphernalia! And who’s got the time? Struggle no more! With the Easter Method, you can replace all of your fancy sharpening gear with a ceramic mug and a leather belt. We’ll sharpen plain-edged (not serrated) knives using standard ceramic mugs like you’d find in any kitchen, and we’ll refine the edges with leather belts like many of us wear. People often ask me to sharpen their knives when I’m visiting their kitchens, and it’s really convenient to be able to do it without special tools. You can do it too!
- your non-serrated knives that need sharpening (kitchen, pocket, etc.)
- leather belts if you have them (preferably at least 1.5″ wide)
- a ceramic coffee mug (although the kitchen should have some)
- a sharpening steel, if you have one
This is a repeat of my 2015 workshop, although I have some new tricks to share (cardboard strops, abrasive polish). I’m also investigating some other forms of ceramic to use in addition to the mugs and may have some prizes to share at ESS.
with Chelsea F.
Let’s greet the sunrise with sun salutations! Want to practice yoga? Connecting with body and earth early in the morning can help bring a more centered, focused and peaceful energy into the day. All are welcome, even first-timers. Feel free to bring a mat or just use the grass. We will close with a mantra and a short calm abiding meditation.
The US Immigration System
with Sonja B. and Avi S.
Immigration has been much in the news lately. How does the US vet immigrants? How has the process worked for the past four decades? How does the US process compare with that of other countries? What do all those acronyms like USCIS and DACA mean? This workshop will be co-facilitated by an immigrant from India who came to the US on a student visa and now holds a work visa, and me, and American who has done a lot of reading. We can speak to our knowledge and experiences, and would be excited to have others with different perspectives add to the conversation!
What are all these green things?!
with Aaron M.
Plants are all around us, and I want to offer the ability to see beyond the tunnel of green to see how all our plant neighbors are different individuals and different species (over 2000 different species in Vermont for example). I will not just teach you a few of the trees, shrubs, ferns, grasses, aquatic plants, sedges, wildflowers, and mosses around camp, but if there is interest, I will teach you some of the skills needed to learn identify species on your own. And we will connect these small and large differences in growth form to the big picture. (I will be here off-duty as the Assistant Botanists for the state of Vermont & seasonal botanist with the Green Mountain & Finger Lakes National Forest).
with Gabriella D-C
Suppose you find yourself in a situation where you need to span a raging stream with your legs, but they’re not quite bendy enough. Suppose you often find yourself stressed out, and wish you had better mechanisms for staying grounded. Yoga is good for all of this and so much more! Come practice whether you’ve never tried it before or have been doing it for years. I will guide a beginner-intermediate level class and begin with a short discussion of yoga and cultural appropriation. I just finished a 200-hour therapeutic yoga teacher training, which I signed up for without any intention of teaching. However, I have been inspired to try it out. Come join me!