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"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales
painting by Katie Bergenholtz

DIY Medieval Fantasy Camp, part 5: Crossing The Threshold

The Hero is now ready to act upon his call to adventure and truly begin his quest, whether it be physical, spiritual or emotional. He may go willingly or he may be pushed, but either way he finally crosses the threshold between the world he is familiar with and that which he is not. It may be leaving home for the first time in his life or just doing something he has always been scared to do. However the threshold presents itself, this action signifies the Hero's commitment to his journey an whatever it may have in store for him.

Make no mistake. I was born a WARRIOR. I will defend the weak, defend freedom, sacrifice so that other may live free, defend my family to the death, love peace. I am a fierce enemy, live by a special code, with honor. Real men are warriors!
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The Warrior

Discuss what character traits the true warrior has. If they were to write a code of behavior for the warriors in this Medieval Fantasy camp, what would they be? Have your students break down into smaller groups (they can be as small as two students) and have them come up with a list. Come back together as a large group and discuss the lists they have made. Make sure the concepts of honor, courage and compassion come up, bringing them up, if they are not included on your student's lists. Knights in Training, although written for younger children, has some good examples.
 
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Honor

Discuss what honor is. This is an abstract concept that many people understand as a general concept but have not really thought about what it means. Make sure that the discussion includes a discussion of honesty, fairness, and integrity in one's beliefs and actions. Discuss times in which they have seen, read about or seen examples of honor. Is it possible to be honorable even as you carry out war with another group of people? How? How can they show honor in the way they deal with people, both in their everyday life and in this scenario?

Courage


Lead a discussion about courage by asking your students why they think courage is important. Touch on the concept that courageous people do have fears, but they are able to work through their fears and do things even though they are afraid. Discuss how one can use others to help them to have courage when they are afraid. Discuss examples of someone who showed courage in a story of movie.
Part of having courage is knowing when something is good and true, because a part of true courage is overcoming fear so that you can stand up to do what is right instead of hiding in fear. Also, a part of courage is the willingness to stand alone in doing what is right. How can they show courage in their dealings with people in their everyday life? How can they show courage in this scenario?

Compassion


Compassion is helping those who are hurting, which includes the traits of sympathy and empathy. Sympathy is noticing those who are hurting, whether it be physical or emotional pain. Empathy is the ability to go beyond noticing another's pain, but the ability to imagine or understand how it feels to be in that person's pain. You feel the pain with the person. It is not enough to see needs and feel badly for those who are hurting. Compassion begins with a feeling of duty, responsibility, and sometimes urgency to help find a remedy, but it must take on some action to relieve this pain. To be compassionate is to find ways to help the person in order for healing to take place. Discuss this with your students and get examples of sympathy, empathy and compassion from them, making sure, from their examples, that they understand these terms and the differences between them. 
Discuss what things they could do in their own lives to practice compassion. Have they noticed anyone who is hurting? Do they understand what it is like to be in that person's shoes? Is there anything they can do to help this person?
You might want to complete a compassion project with your student. The one most done is to make Blessing Bags. These are large Ziploc bags of items that could be useful to homeless people, such bottles of water or boxes of juice, socks, snacks such as Trail mix, Granola Bars or crackers, toothbrush and toothpaste, Ibuprofen, Kleenex, food packets such as oatmeal, Shampoo, Lotion, Soap, Deodorant and Hand Sanitizer. Other ideas can be found at Changing the World, One Act of Kindness at a Time blog.

Trust Building 

As well as building these individual traits, a good warrior also trusts those in his army. Building trust between the participants in the camp is important.
Lead your group through as many trust building activities as you feel is appropriate for your group. It can be as simple as a blind walk, in which students are paired up and one is blindfolded while the other leads the blindfolded person on a walk for about 10 minutes by holding their hands. Encourage the seeing people to lead their partners through various obstacles and/or to things for the blindfolded person to feel.

Additional trust building activities can be found at Wilderdom.

The Threshold

Although the threshold that the hero passes through is a figurative one in hero's journey, it is a fine camp activity to make an actual threshold for the hero to pass through each camp day from this time on, to remind him of his commitment to the quest he is undertaking. Have your students work together to make an arch. It can be made of any materials that your group can get or afford, but try to keep them in mind of the Medieval Fantasy theme. A cardboard arch made from a refrigerator box can be decorated to fit the theme. Or you could make one out of poles, like we did for our graduation.

You can look at a few sites like these to give you some ideas: 
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source: Homemaking with Monica

Once your arch has been made and decorated, you can have a ceremony in which you announce how each of your students has demonstrated the acts of honor, courage and compassion, or other such characteristics and have them cross under the arch. You may repeat this little ceremony each camp day, noting when you have noticed students demonstrating this characteristics. You may also invite other students to say when they have noticed these characteristics in the other campers. Hopefully, this will keep these characteristics in the camper's minds and encourage them to be heroic warriors.

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