Magic Camp – A new kind of education

Teach in with Aaron

 Photo by Carey Lauder

This summer has been a whirlwind – and it’s not over yet. I got back to LA from the east coast just after midnight Tuesday morning, slept five hours and drove to las Vegas. I was in Vegas for a total of about 9 hours to work on an interesting little project with Dan Buck. Dan and Dave are super talented guys. It’s been fascinating to watch them grow up, develop and take the magic world by storm. You’ll hear more about what we were up to in the near future. We worked for a few hours, grabbed some dinner, and got a pleasant surprise. As many of you may know, the Magic Live convention is in full swing at the Orleans in Las Vegas. My schedule is too tight right now, and I couldn’t even drop in. While Dan and I were having a great dinner at Caesar’s at Rao’s, we received a surprising and unexpected phone call.

It was Tim Felix, owner of one of the coolest magic stores in the free world, Midwest Magic. Tim runs perhaps the best stocked magic store in operation today. More importantly, he’s a great friend I hardly ever get to see. He and Jon Stetson (more on him another time) were calling just to say how much they wished I was at the convention. They were eating great steaks, drinking incredible wine, and thinking about the many joyous nights we’ve spent in similar circumstances. They didn’t know it – but Dan and I were about two city blocks away, directly through the casino, of course.

Our Showroom!

Photo by Carey Lauder

We paid, hightailed it over there, and had a great couple hours of cocktails and conversation with two of the smartest guys in magic. A real highlight was the vision I had of Jon Stetson, one of the world’s premier mind readers, having champagne with Dan Buck. It’s a strange and wonderful aspect of the magic world that so many people with different interests can meet, exchange ideas and learn so much from each other. I never would have pictured those two at the same table. It sure was fun to watch. Dan had to get to the late night close up show (it was a serious line up). I dropped him off at the MGM and drove back to LA. I got here just after three am.

What does this have to do with you? I leave for Canada tomorrow, and I wanted to start this new blog before the trip. Since blogs require regular updating to work, we’re on a tight schedule. After all, if you’re meant to care about what you find here, you’ll have to know what this new blog is about.

I’ve been frustrated with the progress of my newsletter project, Sleight Improvements. When you want to write about magic, you have to think about the subject for years. That process begins anew once you begin to argue your ideas in print. If you want your arguments to compel readers, you have to think and rethink your writing many times. Often it takes me weeks to prepare one of these five paragraph essays – sometimes months. I personally find the process of writing a clear, convincing argument to be laboriously slow. In many cases, I think my readers would agree.

The internet moves too fast for this kind of approach. We all have become accustomed to processing so much information, so quickly, that we don’t want to wait for the material that interests us. In addition, I’ve come to believe that much could be gained by giving readers a more immediate, unfiltered view of what it’s like to live the life of a performing magician.

sean’s birthday

Photo by Carey Lauder

When we set out to acquire real sleight of hand skill, or perform magic for real audiences, we face a constant onslaught of experiences. We meet people, read books, negotiate contracts, master some sleights, give up on others and have a thousand harrowing adventures before the terrifying, beautiful force of nature that is a real live audience. From each and every one of these experiences we can infer important lessons for our own work.

This blog will attempt to reflect this realistic model of my own learning process. First you’ll be able to hear from me more regularly. As before, you’ll read about important concepts which can inform your sleight of hand – but that’s not all. You’ll learn about the real situations I encounter, in all their exciting, some times scary, glory. You’ll read about my good nights and the inspiration they can give. You’ll also hear about the beatings I, like all those with the courage to perform, have to take on a regular basis in the quest for the ultimate goal – to create meaningful, powerful magic. Instead of reading only ideas that have been germinating for years, you’ll get it just the way i do – as it comes.

We’re off on an exciting journey together. As Woody Allen once said, half of life (and by extension art) is just showing up. Read on to find out what’s up next!

Aiden sessions with Dan Harlan

Photo by Carey Lauder

Sorcerer’s Safari is one of the highlights of my year. It’s a one week residential summer camp situated in the beautiful woods of Ontario, Canada. In fact, our camp site is so perfect, it’s where Ivan Reitman chose to shoot his famous homage to summer camp, the Bill Murray classic Meatballs. This will be my fourth season in residence as a guest instructor and overgrown camper. I wouldn’t trade this week for the world.

As you may know I’ve given many talks around the world designed to help magicians of all skill levels improve their sleight of hand. That experience has given me a somewhat unique perspective on magic education. Over the years, watching the bright, talented campers of the Sorcerer’s Safari has convinced my that our focused time together in the outdoors teaches the campers more in one week than most sleight of hand enthusiasts can effectively learn in an entire year.

We spend every day together. We have magic classes, we swim in the lake, we play games and have camp fires. Campers spend the most time with the instructors they ‘vibe’ with. Any time a young artist finds a mentor who really ‘speaks his language’, the learning process accelerates. At our magic camp, there are so many good teachers, each with his own specialty, than any camper can find just what, or who, they need. Because we have so much time together, we can really go in-depth with the campers. The growth these kids experience astounds us year after year, and we can’t help feel like we’re a part of a truly unique, power experiment in magic education.

Lee’s Soundbooth

Photo by Carey Lauder

A casual reader might assume that we only do it for the kids. But in truth, the experience of working with young students in a healthy, productive environment teaches us instructors a great deal as well. Just the process of communicating important magic concepts to a younger version of yourself gives you plenty to reflect on. You think about where you’ve been, where you’re going, and how your attitudes toward life and magic have changed since you yourself were a ‘camper’. The week always leaves me exhausted, energized and inspired about magic.

This week I’ll make sure to bring home some great camp lessons for you. If you want to get a head start, you can read a great article on the program and even watch some video here. If you like it thank Lee Asher – not only is he a genius with a deck of cards and a loyal friend, he’s also on the executive staff of the Sorcerer’s Safari.

So, that’s it for now! I’m off to pack my bug spray, flashlight and pranks – see you in September!

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15 Responses to “Magic Camp – A new kind of education”


  1. 1 William Flanagan August 23, 2007 at 7:42 am

    Hey Aaron,

    Congrats on starting a new blog! I hope you can keep updating it better than I’ve been able to on mine… But I’m sure you’ll do fine! It looks like you’ve got a good topic, and one which you can take in many different directions if you like.

    All the best with it!
    I’ll be reading,
    Bill

  2. 2 deflare August 23, 2007 at 9:58 am

    Hey Aaron,
    I saw that Asher had uploaded a video from Magic Camp on youtube, and it looked like a lot of fun!

    Regarding the Blog, I am happy you’ve chosen this format for your future discussions. Brilliant.

    The Menu-links on the top (Blog, About Aaron, Favorite Links and Aaron Fisher Lectures) are white, making it difficult to find, because the background is also white. I am familiar with this software, so I was pretty sure there were links there, but for a newcomer it might be confusing.

    Keep up the good work!

    -Erik Jansson

  3. 3 TheCuso August 23, 2007 at 10:19 am

    Hello Aaron!

    it’s nice to hear that you join the magic blogsphere. I’ve been blogging for almost a year now about my magic and flourishes and all i have to say is that it’s great!
    You’ll see when people start to subscribe to your feed and comment in your blog entries.

    I’m putting you in my Blogroll (links) and i hope you drop by mine to take a look and if you like it do the same 😉

    Speak to you soon,
    Alejandro from Spain

  4. 4 Aaron DeLong August 23, 2007 at 11:27 am

    Hey Aaron,

    This is Aaron… DeLong. The new blog looks great! I can’t believe its time for another week at camp! I have some fun stuff up my sleeve. And since Ms. Chiff is my sister, well… let’s just say there will be some stuff going down.

    Question: The camp experience is like none other. Would you mind telling everyone about your first year at camp and why you come back every year?

    See you in a few days!

    Cheers,
    Aaron “Camp-o-holic” DeLong

  5. 5 Marc DeSouza August 23, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    Hey Buddy,

    It’s great to hear from you, even if it’s part of a mass mailing 😉 This blog is a great idea. Stetson is always so cool to hang out with, one of the best of the “unknowns” amongsst the magi.

    Lee had told me a lot about Sorcerer’s Safari and it is so satisfying to work with some of the younger magicians. I had the good fortune to spend some time lecturing for and talking with the attendees at Tannen’s Magic Camp this summer> It’s changed locations and is now less than 15 minutes from my house. I was absolutely knocked out by the breathe of knowledge of some of these people. They asked such great questions and had a real thirst for learning.

    I look forward to hearing more of your adventures and work through this blog, as well as learning more of your thinking on the art of sleight of hand.

    Your friend,

    Marc DeSouza

  6. 6 Btaylor August 23, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    Hey Aaron.

    I think the blog is great, and the topic is even better. It is so true what you are saying about magic camp. It’s the best experience. Because of guys like you and Lee, I have learned more in the two years that i have been going than I think I would have in 5 years on my own. (I managed to get in one of those pics too.)

    I’ll see ya at camp.
    Brett

  7. 7 Michael Kelley August 23, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    Great to see this Aaron. As you know I always enjoy your Sleight Improvments mailings and love the stories of pros out working. Looking forward to more!!!

    ps. Make the pictures bigger!

    Good luck this week – Talk to you soon!

  8. 8 KGladding August 23, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    Hi, Aaron,

    Thanks sharing your thoughts via the blog. I agree with you concerning the laborious nature of forumlating and writing a truly good argument or thesis of any kind. But, I really think this blog will be a benefit for those of us who are interested in the every-day, hectic happenings of a professional like yourself. I can’t wait to hear some Camp stories. Just out of curiosity, what’s the age cut-off for camp?? 🙂

  9. 9 Jamie Sanden August 23, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    Aaron,

    I love your commmittment to quality writing, combined with a commitment to staying in communication. And I’m glad to hear you will be sharing about the real life experiences of your life on the road.

    And I’m excited for the young people able to attend magic camp. I did not have that opportunity (or wasn’t aware of it when I was in my teens) and never really had a magic mentor. As a result, to this day I feel a bit on the outside of the magic scene, even though I’ve done magic all my life and give my effects a great deal of thought. The campers are lucky indeed…

    I look forward to further posts!

    Thanks,
    Jamie

  10. 10 Scott Macaulay August 23, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    Have liked the emails and glad you are now blogging… will be looking forward to future posts.

  11. 11 Geoff Williams August 30, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    Aaron,

    Great to see you blogging it out on the internet.

    Love your stuff (hope that didn’t sound gay just then).

    Your pal,

    Geoff

  12. 12 Keith Brown September 3, 2007 at 5:02 am

    Aaron!

    I think your blog is a great idea and it will help the magi. Also I would like to thank you for another GREAT year at camp! You teach me so much in such little time. It’s amazing at what you can learn in such a compact group of magicians ready to learn and improve. I will see you next year for sure and I hope everything goes well.

    Keith

  13. 13 aaronfishermagic September 4, 2007 at 9:38 am

    Of course, no matter what Brett, Keith and Aaron Delong (see Believe) say or do, it’s pretty hard to translate the camp experience for the reader. Just like Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – you won’t entirely get it until you have the experience yourself.

    For those of you too old or employed to avail yourself of the camp experience directly, don’t forget that the most essential part of the process, the part you can’t really afford to miss, is the mentoring.

    You don’t need to come to camp with Lee Asher in order to find someone in your community, or even online, that knows quite a bit more about magic than you do. Find that person, be nice to him, not too pushy, and before you know it, you’ll learn things you never would have imagined.

    Remember, most of the rules of good magic behavior come from the book of basic common sense.

  14. 14 aaronfishermagic September 4, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    For more information on the best summer camp experience for any young artist go to:

    http://sorcererssafari.ca/

  15. 15 Ling September 19, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    Hello Mister Fisher.

    It’s been a great read on this Magic Camp, it does sounds fun for an aspiring magician/hobbyist indeed.

    Looking forward to reading more entries.

    – Ling.


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