(UPDATED: On this day where we give thanks, I'm posting an oldie but a favorite to show the immense level of gratitude I have for everything Campowerment-the movement, the founders, the experts, the rangers, the women, the lessons learned, the playtime had-just everything I am so fortunate to be part of. This third camp was different for me (and all camps are different because I am different at every camp), as I took a lot of time to just look around, observe, and take it all in rather than do every single activity offered. And yes as I turned 35 on the first day of camp, I was celebrated in a big way, but what I found to be most rewarding was to watch other incredibly beautiful and strong women experience their own transformations on that hilltop in Malibu. I want to bottle that feeling and take it with me wherever I go, since I can't live at camp 365 days a year! Oh and being named color war captain and winning didn't hurt either! So again, F**ck Disney World...Campowerment is the Happiest Place on Earth!) I'm moving to camp. You heard me...camp! A magical place where women of all ages and from all different walks of life come together to be each other's cheerleaders. A place where women support women no matter what. A place where no one gives a shit about what you do for a living, what clothes you wear, how much you weigh, how much money you make, how many children you have, if you are married, single, divorced, etc. Trust me...makeup doesn't matter at camp. Sometimes showers don't even matter at camp.
A place where there is no bullshit, no noise (except the cheers of your fellow campers while you take on the Leap of Faith at the ropes course as in the above photos--yes that's me being all brave and badass), and you can be who you are. You can do you and just be. Doesn't camp sound amazing? That's because it is. Where else can you go and find yourself and your tribe made up of all women? And we women need each other. I always say to my close female friends that I don't understand mom-shaming or women-shaming for that matter. Life is hard enough. Women need to support women and whatever choices they make. Well, they do at camp!
I've convinced you too, haven't I? You know this is not easy to find in the real world, not while we are all busy running around working, wifing, and raising tiny humans. But this should be the real world. I bet you want to move to camp now too, don't you?! And if you have no idea what you're looking for or who you are or want to be, when you go to Campowerment, you will figure it out.
Since I'm all about the truth here, let me be honest about this post. It's taken me a while to finish it. I returned home from camp over two weeks ago and I'm still basking in all the love and that post-camp glow, but I can't seem to make this post perfect, or at least sound the way I want it to. I think it's because it's so hard to articulate the impact Campowerment and its founders, experts, and all the women who attended had on me. The best possible way to understand is to sign up and experience it all for yourself. So here is where I tell you how I learned about the happiest place on Earth that is Campowerment and attempt to explain it in more serious detail:
Last July, a mom friend sent me a Facebook message about something her aunt created called Campowerment. I was intrigued. What was this mysterious place that combined camp, something I love, and empowerment, something I desperately needed more of in my life? So I immediately typed in "Campowerment" to Google and OMG...Campowerment is sleepaway camp for adult woman! Seriously? This really exists? Where has this been all my life? Why didn't I know about this? Where and when can I sign up? I didn't even need to read past the website's home page. I was in. I was going. This was happening!
I told my husband about camp and his practical, conservative self answered, "Okay, we can discuss it." I replied, "No, you misunderstand me. I'm going. I already signed up. The credit card has been charged." Later, when I returned home from camp, he would admit Campowerment was worth every penny. I didn't say I told you so. I didn't have to!
I have to take a minute here to thank Tammi Leader for creating Campowerment so women could have the chance to put their needs and themselves first, something that is all too rare. I know she would respond to this by saying she just built the door--that we all walked through it and did the work. But Tammi, you need to receive this credit...because you, camp, and your family have inspired me and given me a much needed new outlook on my life! It was you and your words that reassured me I would be okay returning home as I hugged you and sobbed that I was terrified to leave the bubble of camp, where I could so authentically be myself. And you were right. I can be that person at home too. I am that woman, even now as I write this.
I said before that the women at camp come from all different backgrounds--survivors of cancer, divorce, break-ups, depression, great loss. Single women, married women, women who lost themselves along the way, women like me in search of their passion and identity. Women who just need a break from life to reconnect with themselves. These women are warriors and meeting them and learning their stories has been life-changing. I'm honored to call these women my friends and be part of their tribe. I won't say anymore here because I really can't. I am never one to be at a loss for words, but words are not enough to describe the mark these women have left on me. For that, I can only say thank you and continue to be your champion as you have been mine.
Do you want to know what I know after going to camp? Here is just a glimpse of the wisdom shared by some of Campowerment's tremendously talented experts--experts who create the space for you to really get in touch with yourself, ask the tough questions, really examine your life and choices, say the things you are most afraid of, embrace and love who you are, give you a new perspective on your relationships, and provide you with tools so you can leave as your best self. If you want to learn more about these amazing empowerers of women, go here.
Look in the mirror everyday and repeat the following affirmation: I am an irresistible force of nature. Because you are exactly that, an irresistible force of nature.
Live in gratitude, not in guilt.
When you're present in the moment, there are no thoughts, only the experience. If it's a thought, it's already in the past.
Women are the CEO's of their romantic relationships. We really are the authors of the whole thing. If you know what you need, fucking say it! We are not allowed to sit back, watch, and think our men are the assholes. That makes us the assholes. Ask for what you want!
Don't hand your dream to someone else to fulfill. It's yours!
Women need to receive so they can create.
Campowerment changed me...or maybe it just encouraged me to be me. The open, honest woman, wife, and mom who doesn't believe in pretending or sugar-coating. A fierce rockstar of a woman who puts it out there and never apologizes. When so many women praise you for your spunk, honesty, and voice, you know you are doing something right. You walk away knowing you have started to live your truth. Nothing is more empowering.
I left camp with a new perspective on myself, my relationships, and my life. I found a deeper appreciation for all that I have and all that I still want to accomplish. I gained more self-confidence and the support of over 75 women who have now become my tribe and my friends--women who celebrate my voice, my purpose, and my writing.
Yes there will be breakdowns and breakthroughs at camp, but it's not all serious all the time. We have crazy fun too! I'm talking color war, happy hours, sunrise dance parties, lip synch battles, workouts where you bang shit with drumsticks, sex toy parties, and more.
Run, don't walk to this special place and give yourself the gift of camp. Every woman needs a breather, time for herself to recharge, re-ignite, and just be. Whatever it is you might need or are looking for--even if you don't know what that is yet--you will find it at camp. You can thank me later. And if you have a spouse and/or children, they will thank me too!
And maybe one day life will be like camp. I know that is Tammi's vision. Until then, I'm moving there. I just need to let my husband and son know. I'm sure we can arrange visitation!