(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!
Meet Tammi Leader Fuller, Founder and CEO (Chief Empowerment Officer) of Campowerment, and the woman, who, I swear, changed my life in just 72 hours. She would argue that she just built the (Campowerment) door and I walked through it, but even when I walked out the door back to my everyday reality, she still had and continues to have my back. I just got back from my second Campowerment retreat and I am going back for more in November. What can I say…I’m addicted. Trust me when I say you will be too! Read on as Tammi talks Campowerment, starting over, and why every woman needs this magical weekend in their lives.
A guilt-ridden, stressed out single mom, wondering when and why I signed up for this insane web of a life I had spun for myself.
The Beginnings of Campowerment
I am who I am today because of summer camp, my happy place. In my twenties, after I outgrew childhood camp, I became a Club Med counselor (a G.O.) for grown ups, probably because I am obsessed with the concept of playtime and the joy it brings to life. I think I became a TV Producer because I was a spirited camp girl (truth: I majored in Journalism cuz there was no school on Fridays!), and meeting interesting people and telling their stories was a very cool way to make a living.
I wasn’t going to write about my weekend at Campowerment this time around. Not because I didn’t have another magical, transformative weekend with the most unbelievable women, but because I want you to hear about the Campowerment movement and why every woman needs some camp in her life, from the founder herself. On Friday I will be posting a Q&A with the rockstar behind camp, Tammi Leader Fuller. You do not want to miss it!
But I have to write about something that happened to me on the last day of camp, just minutes before I got in the van and headed to Newark airport to return home to my real life. We rarely ever know what kind of impact we make on another person and it’s not something we tend to think about. Of course we think about how others touched our lives, but what if you could take a moment to hear from others about the effect you had on them? At the end of camp, you are given this opportunity, but I won’t spoil the details of how, in case you decide to go experience it for yourself. And you should definitely go experience it for yourself.
During my moment, another camper, a woman who I swear is my soul sister and someone I have known my whole life (I’ve literally now known her for less than a week) told me that I make her want to be a mom, something she really hasn’t felt strongly about ever. Cue tears and all the feels. Let me repeat that. I make her want to be a mom. This woman right here—this mommy—your medicated mommy wants to make someone else be a mom. I consider myself to be a pretty confident woman (thank you Campowerment-the first time around), but me? Make someone else want to be a mom? Really? Why?
I find Beyonce incredibly empowering. She is fierce, fabulous, and not afraid to speak her truth or be vulnerable. I wish I could bottle that shit up. When I’m in one of my funks, I might ask myself (don’t laugh), what would Beyonce say right now?
I’m leaving for Campowerment tomorrow. I’m unbelievably excited to return to the place that changed my life only 6 months ago. I can’t wait to see what camp has in store for me this time!
So in honor of my upcoming trip to Campowerment this week, today’s post takes the form of affirmations in Beyonce Lyrics…because let’s face it…Beyonce and Campowerment? Both bad-ass!
A little over two months ago, I wrote myself a letter. I sat in the dining hall at Campowerment and wrote myself a letter as a reminder of how I felt, what I learned and experienced, who I met and connected with, why I started writing my truth, and who I became during that transformative, empowering, and all-around amazing weekend. This week, Grandy mailed me my letter with her uplifting response. Tonight I read my letter and hers, cried and decided to post it right here for everyone to read. And after I finish this post, I’m taping it to my bathroom mirror so I can read it every morning.
Let’s talk about Grandy, Tammi’s momma, the creative writing/journaling savant, and all around life of the Campowerment party. Grandy the fabulous, fierce, sassy, adopted mother to all us campers. Yes, that is her in the above photo, wearing her crown and basking in all the birthday love bestowed upon her at camp. She is my woman! The brilliant, compassionate, and kind woman who brings light and joy to everyone she meets. I told her I would be sharing this on my blog so here it goes…
One of camp’s signature circles is Journaling with Grandy. During this session, Grandy gives a prompt and you write whatever comes to mind for a set number of minutes. When time is up, you put your pen down, no matter where you are in your writing. No prepping, no outlining, no editing, just the raw thoughts inside your head being put to paper. The results are powerful. The women who write and choose to share or not share and just listen are brave. No-one judges ever. It’s a safe space with Grandy as the leader and protector of our words. We all group hug at the end because after sharing such personal truths, hugs are needed. We leave the circle sharing a new closeness with each other and feeling freed by the words we didn’t realize needed to come out.
When I first launched my blog back in January, I made an agreement with my husband. He knew I was writing but he wouldn’t try to find my blog or read any posts until I told him I was ready. I had always planned to talk to him about everything right before I decided to go public. He fully supported this. He wasn’t concerned. He didn’t ask questions. My close friends and sister? Not so much.
If you know me, you know that there is no bullshit. No sugar-coating. Just open, honest truth. I’m not afraid to share, tell you how I feel, and I own my shit and who I am. I always planned to bring this to my blog. As I started writing my truth about motherhood, marriage, and sex, in came the frantic text messages and phone calls from various friends and family members.
Does my husband know what I’m writing about? Does he know how I feel about our sex life? Do I talk to him about what I write for the world to read? Jen, are you okay? Jen, are you going to do something impulsive like have an affair or run away? Jen, should we be concerned? Jen, do we need to come down to the South for an intervention?
There won’t be any new posts or updates for the next week because this mommy is taking a much needed and well deserved break! For the next four days I will be going to camp. You heard me…camp! As in Campowerment, “the sleepaway-camp-inspired experience for grown-up women.” If you want to learn more about what I know will be an amazing time, check out their website here.
I am tuning out, shutting down, avoiding any and all things technology and social media, and focusing inward. If I’m going to recharge my life, I’m going to do it right.
I will resurface sometime next week with a very detailed post about my trip and everything I did and learned while away at camp. I’m so excited to be able to share this experience on my blog. I hope you will check back and keep reading!