Does anyone else feel like some time back in January you took a second to blink and now, all of the sudden, you’re on a train, without breaks, speeding towards the gates of 2018? Yea: we do, too.
It’s easy to get caught up in all the should-haves, the would-haves or the could-haves when reflecting on the past 12 months, but we’re in the business of shifting perspectives…so, how ‘bout you take a few minutes and join us for a ride down a rose-colored memory lane instead?! We’re about to recall our biggest “Aha! moments:” the times we felt on top of the world, and hope you’ll do the same with your year after taking a spin around ours.
Here it goes: We’re pinching ourselves and the rest of our Crew because, in 2017, we…
1. Celebrated 21 women’s Weekend Retreats
Since January of 2013, we’ve grown and glowed and sparked and sizzled like the flames of the campfire we gather ‘round. This year, we held space for our Campers, alongside our Campower Rangers (counselors) and Experts at Weekend Retreats 19, 20, and 21.
Each Camp, we were lucky enough to welcome new and returning Campers to the places we call home on both Coasts (in Malibu, CA and the Pocono Mountains of PA). We look forward to Weekend Retreat 22 in 2018, but we are proud to acknowledge that Campowerment is not just a retreat we experience and leave — it’s a community that lives with us (and through each of us all…including YOU…all year). #grateful
2. Granted 19 scholarships to inspiring, deserving women who might otherwise never have experienced Campowerment
Now that we’ve finally gotten Give Her Camp official 501c3 status, we’re taking it to the sky, baby! We’ve opened up this life-enhancing opportunity through full scholarships to Campowerment, so no woman who’s committed can say she can’t get to camp.
But this one’s not on us: it’s dedicated to every single person who donated even a dollar or a nomination to this humbling cause that’s allowed us to part of the journey that is bound to take our Give Her Camp recipients somewhere grand because they’re the grandest. On the philanthropy front, 2017 crushed it, fueling our faith in the innate good in the world when we needed it most.
3. Stepped forward with three mama (and now papa!) steps into our new frontier: Custom Programs for companies, groups and organizations committed to inspiring insight, connection and incremental innovation
This one was a long-time coming, since our first foray into affecting corporate culture in October of 2015 with lululemon. This year we made this big step a huge priority, and it paid off in impact with the Herb It Forward Foundation. That’s right, fam, we’re now in the business of building and running retreats for other groups’ people.We call these “Custom Programs,” because they’re tailor-made to meet (and, ahem,exceed) our clients’ goals.
We’re working with corporations, small businesses, organizations and affinity groups to create culture, community and connection to missions bigger than the individuals that make them happen. We knew it would be an amazing juncture, but seeing the plans play out for Herb It Forward Foundation — an org out of Philly that sponsors and empowers young leaders to accomplish, and quite frankly, outgrow their wildest dreams (because they can) — was a thing of fairy tales.
Here’s how it happened: One of our Campers (shout out to where Camp Akiba meets Malibu Cabin 3) charged us with creating the first-ever weekend for the organization she spearheads in memory of her very-wonderful late father, Herbie.For the Herb It Forward Foundation, we created a space where incoming (and current) college students (burgeoning leaders who’ve expressed interest, shown action and proven vision in or towards making an impact on the world) could revert to carefree kids at summer camp AND pick up some knowledge that would make the transition from home to dorm a whole lot smoother.
4. Took a (very proud) back seat as our Campers took the wheel, reuniting and taking their now-lifelong friendships beyond the campfire
From the “tunks” at Camp Akiba, where our Chief Empowerment Officer Tammi found her love of all things sleepaway camp, to the foothills of the same mountain range where they met as kids, Tammi’s camp girls reunited at September ‘17 camp, allowing our Crew to see the child inside our chief that paved the way for all of this. We heard the 2 a.m. laughter reverberate in those Pocono foothills and watched this crew sing camp songs like they were back on their old stomping ground.
Then there was Bunk 3 (threeeeee!) from last November’s Malibu camp that took their love to North Florida because they couldn’t let more months pass without reuniting!And September ‘16’s Bunk 2 that came to their East Coast camp last Fall as strangers and left as best friends who not only reunited in Florida (too!) but returned to Campowerment altogether to become Bunk 11 in Sept 2017!! (A first for us!)
At Sept ‘17, too, was Bunk 8. Perhaps you’ve heard them chanting “Bunk 8 is f-ing great” from across state lines?! They’re like Bunk 2/11, but a generation younger, with even fewer throughlines to connect them pre-camp and even more miles between them. Their love letters and gag gifts and outpouring of support for one another prove that #CampFriendsAreTheBestFriends, and that they’re the real deal. We hear they’re reuniting in Tennessee in the months ahead, and that we’ll be seeing their shining faces in the Poconos next year, to continue to make good on their commitment to be there for each other, now and always. Beautiful!
Finally, word has been getting back that half a dozen ladies from different cabins at November ‘17 camp in Malibu have been texting each other daily, holding each other up through marital and family struggles, preschool nightmares, caring for aging parents and overall life changes that continue to pop up unexpectedly after camp.
Nothing is better than true friendship, and this milestone is one we hope to have on our list every single year ‘til forever.
5. Landed press hits, as told by women who truly experienced the magic of Campowerment on the Today Show and Shondaland.com
That’s right: the Today Show sent two powerful females — Jenna Bush and Natalie Morales — to Campowerment this past March, to dive right into Color War AND scale 30 feet up to the Partner V on our Ropes Course. (Check out that piece here).
Plus, Beth Troutman, Charlotte, NC TV-personality-turned-Camper-turned-storyteller shared an emotional piece about her time at camp on Shondaland.com, a content site that was totally #GOALS for our Crew since we first heard talks of its launch this year.
“It’s safe to say I never would have imagined that a three-day retreat in the woods would change the course of my life and help me find myself again. And yet, it did: At Campowerment, I stepped out of the limelight and into my very own light for the first time in my life” – Beth Troutman, for Shondaland.com
6. Turned the beat around as we re-ignited ‘round the Malibu campfire
Every Campowerment experience brings a new dimension into our world. In Malibu this past March, the full moon shone brightly overhead as we howled over the campfire with belly laugher and song because — dare we say it?? — we partook in the wildest drum circle our Campers have come across!’Round the campfire, we broke it down in dance and built up the energy to create a collective sound that was so much greater than anything we could have created without each other. #BeatThat
7. Got funky at a morning RAVE…in the woods!
No better way to greet the morning dew on the treetops of the Pocono Mountains than to wake up with the sun for a morning rave — a gem-eye-clad, costume-recommended dance party to beats by DJ Alejandra Sabillon.
8. Pushed pause on everything and remembered to look up at the otherworldly sunset that the Universe gifted us this November
The burning oranges melded with shimmering yellows, vermillion reds and deep, majestic purples to paint a picture more vivid than…well…anything else that was happening in that moment.
So, without being cued, the whole camp essentially stopped what they thought they were supposed to be doing to actually look up and take it in. A pinch-us-please moment of “wow, it’s working! We’re all walking the re-ignited talk,” indeed…
9. Launched our Inner Circle: the first-ever digital extension to this movement to keep the connection alive from all ends of the world, all year round…
In seven weeks we turned a germ of an idea into a genuine experience we’ve been dreaming about for two years. After September ‘17 camp we had a wake-up call: our Campers were struggling to re-assimilate back into their day-to-day’s, wanting to expand their lives’ horizons faster than it was all happening. And to get through it stronger, they were calling on each other — an incredible thing to bear witness to, and also a major kick in the pants.
So, we hustled, and by November camp, we announced the newest adventure under this movement’s umbrella: the Campowerment Inner Circle, a 12-month members-only experience for women who’ve been to our Weekend Retreats in the past to meet for live, facilitated Circles, online, one a month all year.We have one inaugural month with 55 founding members (pioneers, who came to camp in 2017) under our belts, and it has proven to be a milestone beyond the limits of our imagination.
It’s simple: we are inviting our Campowerment sisters to reconnect and continue to grow and share and learn from each other, month after month, side-by-side, from the comfort of your own homes. We will hold each other up over the next year, even if we are thousands of miles apart, to set aside 75 minutes a month to grow and share and love and experience the peaks and pits of real life.So, if you’ve been to a Campowerment Weekend Retreat before (ever, in our past 5 years), get ready for the opportunity to step into our Inner Circle. We’re expanding membership and opening enrollment for a limited window in the beginning of next year.
10. Made new friends and kept the old…and kept being reminded that they’re all really freaking shiny gold
Experts: Would you believe that we had 38 Experts come through Campowerment’s gates this year, and almost exactly HALF of them were newbs to our retreats?! The other half returned for s’more, changing up their programs and giving and getting something new and different each time around!
Campers: Top hobby: welcoming everyone as you drive through the camp gates upon our first gong each camp. When you’re a new Camper, we give extra tight hugs and when you’re a Returning Camper, we basically hop into your vehicle.This year, about half the welcome hugs we gave were to NEW Campers who tapped into their boldness and bravery to drive into the woods or up a serious hill to join us for a weekend that we hope shifted who and how you are forevermore, for the better. To the Returning Campers: how can we even express the ways that we love thee? Simply: Thank you.
We’re thankful to each and every one of you for keeping this movement moving…and we have to give a special shout-out to the three who played with us at all three retreats in 2017: Rachel Bates, Sherry Lemonick and Georgia Hatzis. You’re our cherry on top 😉
Campower Rangers: If Experts are the head and Campers are the heart of our Weekend Retreats, Campower Rangers (“Rangers,” for short — the volunteer army of incredible leaders that acts as our experiential Crew [and spirit guides!] — are just about every other body part. This year, we had 75 of them step into their power — our inaugural gentlemen Rangers at our Herb It Forward Foundation retreat in June (snaps for Nick + Peter), 23 women who joined us for their FIRST Campowerment rodeo at our Weekend Retreats, and 50 women who came back to camp for ‘smore.
16 of those rockstars are LEADING the Inner Circle as a side hustle. Can we can a hoo-rah?!!
With that, fine folks, we leave you, glasses full of Fetzer Wine (our incredible wine sponsor going on three years strong), and toast to a year full of firsts, of bests, of ouches and get-back-ups and groovy dances moves and great stories and even better friends with whom to share laughs about it all.
From the campfire & beyond,
Your extremely cheery Campowerment Crew