Conflict Engagement and Exploration Protocol

We hold that conflict is inevitable, and honor that conflict can be a gift or opportunity for individuals and a group to grow and evolve.

We commit to not shaming the phenomenon of conflict, or the primary vessels which it may be moving through.

We acknowledge that we each carry our own shadow, and that the collective shadow work of the group may move through different individuals at different times.

We will aspire to tease apart what may be inter-personal, and what may be a group energy moving through individuals.

We will try to the best of our abilities to approach conflict with an eye to its complexity, and an awareness of possible deeper group archetypal expressions.

We understand that conflict does not exist or impact individual relationships solely, but also exists within and may impact a web of relationships.

While we might not be the primary actors in any given conflict, we accept that it is still the group’s conflict, and that the group may be secondarily or primarily responsible for holding that conflict with compassion and a consciousness to lend to exploration and transformation.

We agree to utilize the below options (which may be amended or supplemented in the future) with respect and regard to the circumstances and context of any given conflict.

If you are having difficulties with another camper, group, or structural elements at camp.

  1. Check in with yourself first.

    Is this an issue that needs to be addressed for your own or the community’s well-being, or is it just a moment’s irritation? Do you need the voice of the person you’re having difficulty with to address it, or can you look within yourself to understand and defuse the situation?

  2. Check in with the other person next.

    If your conflict involves another person, or people, have you addressed it directly with them? Their voice would often be the first you seek to explore/transform the conflict. Are you ready to talk to them in a way that permits both of you to be heard, or are you still in the throes of emotion about the conflict? Take time, a cooling off period may be needed, take a breath, take a walk if you need to. This cool off period can be vital for some and painstaking for others. We ask that you negotiate what seems to be a workable agreement for those involved with respect to these needs.Check out the Wellness Tent for resources on engaging with conflict–reflective listening, non-violent communication…etc.

Some basic tips

  • Ask before you act; engage a process of inquiry before you make assumptions.
  • Consider using the basic NVC formula:
    “When this happened _________, I felt _______, because_________, Would you be willing to _________?”
  • Be specific and avoid judging or blaming language.
  • Guidelines for reflective listening: Sincere listening, attentive and open; able to reflect content of the teller; able to reflect feeling of the teller.
  1. Check in with your immediate circle.

    In moving toward transforming the conflict, is there a friend with whom you can discuss the conflict to give you some additional perspective? Do you just need to vent, or are you open to hearing that you might have contributed to the situation in some way? As you consider possible next steps, perhaps it is also a time to consider what you are learning about yourself and what you might be projecting onto the other person. Remember, the goal is to transform the conflict–be mindful about how talking widely about unresolved conflict can cause it to ferment in ways you didn’t intend.

  2. Invite in an Ally/Mediator/Wellness Support.

    If you are in a conflict that exceeds your ability to engage in a good way, consider inviting in an ally whom both parties trust to ground the interaction and help both people hear each other calmly. Consider if it would be helpful to have a buddy who can help you communicate your concerns. Many campers have experience mediating and/or offering support around conflicts and have stepped up to be Tenders, identified by an armband. Calling in some additional tools, perspectives, or ways of structuring the conversation might be just the thing.

  3. Initiate Group Support.

    If after a discussion, one or both parties continue to feel unresolved, reach out to Wellness, and the concern can be brought to camp organizers. We accept that the group as a whole may be responsible for holding conflict with compassion and consciousness to lend to exploration/transformation. Often conflicts at camp are manifestations of ideological conflicts at camp that are just under the surface, and bringing it to a larger group can illuminate the web of relationships and impacts within which we act. There are resourses for addressing conflicts at camp that are accessible to all campers, and Wellness and other organizers can help facilitate group support. Additionally, conflicts contribute to the cultural growth and lore of camp in a variety of ways.

    In the case of individuals breaking camp agreements, in order to maintain a culture of responsibility, such behaviors can be brought to camp organizers.

    If difficulty or concerns involve access to camp resources, concerns regarding camp  structures, groups, or other larger community concerns, a format for collective engagement could be explored, possibly through all camp meetings. If you need support in bringing these concerns to the larger community, you are encouraged to reach out to Wellness, camp organizers and elders (that is, people who’ve been attending camp for many years–there are many elders around of a diversity of ages)!

    Possible tools for addressing conflict could be, creating a fish bowl, Ally Circle, Elder’s Circle, Empathetic Mediated Discussion, or negotiated agreement. Check out the Wellness tent for further resources.

    If conflict remains untenable, Camp Agreements are broken, or problematic behaviors remain, individuals could be asked to refrain from participating in path, rituals or be asked to leave camp.

Let us move towards conflict when it arises, towards understanding ourselves and each other more fully, especially when this is difficult, with the awareness that there is support at Free Cascadia Witch Camp to do so.

These steps and perspective on conflict have been adapted, with consent, from the original contributors, rain crowe and Prince Dmitri, from their work with the Applegate Winter Forestry camp, and additionally from JP Hartsong from the Nomenus Wolf Creek Sanctuary’s conflict engagement approach.  They have been edited for FCWC by the Wellness Working Group 2014.

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