In going to tons of seminars and camps for the last few years now, I've noticed that you generally get one of three experiences at a seminar or camp environment.
This kind of camp is where you end up getting a lot of what you know challenged or you get material way, way beyond what you already know. It's like a bomb going off, where you have to work very hard, mentally and physically, to absorb what is being taught and to understand the point of view.
Then you start thinking about it in the context of what you already know, and you start wondering if you're on the right path... and if you are, how things should be changed to fit the information you've just assimilated.
Ultimately, you may or may not end up adopting whatever the "bomb" type seminar showed you, but it does, for a while, impact how you think about your own art. I think that's a good thing - I think we need this sort of challenge once in a while.
I usually leave this sort of seminar physically tired but mentally completely fried.
This is the kind of seminar where you don't learn much of anything new. You might think this sort of thing is a waste of your time, but really, here's something you can do if you find yourself coasting that is totally worth your time.
I like to use this sort of seminar to work on my instruction skills. If I already know the content, I try my best to make sure I pair up with people who are very new to all of this (for them, this is a "Bomb" session, after all). I am careful to try to show exactly what the teacher at the seminar is showing the way he or she is showing it.
It's my opportunity to hone my instructor skills and help a new person feel more welcomed into my art.
THE FINE TUNE
This camp is where you work on what you already know but in a way where you understand it better. It's comfortable, like coasting, but it's also a challenge and you learn a lot, like the bomb going off. It's like rotating a famous sculpture to see a side you don't normally see, or reading an analysis of a favorite book that points out nuances you haven't noticed before.
This is a really important kind of seminar. It's the kind of session where you move beyond the surface of what we're taught in the earlier stages of our training.
I usually leave this sort of camp energized and feeling creative. Speaking from experience, my teacher does too, and I can guess what we'll be doing in class for a while as he assimilates the information.
Are there other kinds of camps or seminars than what I've described? Let me know in the comments!