by Caroline Geroyan
Remember when you were a kid, and the world was your playground? You had no fears and no inhibitions. Having fun was not an option, it was a way of life, and your biggest worry was whether there was going to be fairy bread at your best friend’s birthday party.
At Camp Super Happy Sunshine Fun, camp counselors Doug (Lucas Connelly) and Sally (Grace De Morgan) wound the clock all the way back. Located at the Newtown Neighborhood Centre as part of this year’s Sydney Fringe Festival, Camp Super Happy Sunshine Fun and its counselors aimed to restore childhood memories and experiences by recreating an outdoor summer scene, bonfire and all.
The event ran for one and a half hours, and all of the campers participated in various games and activities that they would have enjoyed at summer camp, including dodge ball (with marsh mellows rather than big heavy balls), tunnel ball, pirate hat making, potato Olympics and, of course, reciting camp cheers and chants around the bonfire. And at the very end, there was an honorary medal ceremony rewarding those who performed exceptionally well.
Camp founder and director Maya Sebestyen got the idea to start the “adults only summer camp” while she was working as a camp counselor in the United States.
“All the other camp counselors were really childlike. The kids would go to bed and we would thank God they had gone to bed, but then we would want to play dodge ball. All of us were kids at heart, and we knew there was no judgment amongst ourselves.”
Kevin Acquard, a 25-year-old camper, admits that when he initially realised what he was in for at Camp Super Happy Sunshine Fun, he was ready to walk out the door and knock back a few drinks at the nearest bar.
“But as soon as it all started, I really got into it. The games were really fun and competitive and I found I really wanted to win. I forgot how much fun they were. I had not played for years and I had a really good time.”
The camp was an opportunity for adults to let go of their inhibitions. Just as the name suggests, Camp Super Happy Sunshine Fun was a fun environment focused on bringing out the child in every adult.
There has been considerable research on the importance of childlike play for adults, especially in today’s fast paced world.
“Our society tends to dismiss play for adults,” says psychologist Margarita Tartakovsky, the associate editor of The Importance of Play for Adults. “It comes really naturally to me but I know it does not come as naturally to other people – although I think if you place people in this kind of environment they latch on really quickly.
“Play is perceived as unproductive, petty or even a guilty pleasure. The notion is that once we reach adulthood, it’s time to get serious. And between personal and professional responsibilities, there’s no time to play,” Margarita says.
“But play is just as pivotal for adults as it is for kids. Play brings joy. And it’s vital for problem solving, creativity and relationships.”