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Campers in the Wild: Laurie White: Healing through Community

by Megan Weissman
 ∙ Jan 27 ∙ 5 Min Read

If you haven’t been introduced to Laurie White yet, consider it your lucky day!

This star of a Campowerment camper just released her first memoir, which shares with the world the story of, in 1998, being shot in the line of duty with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, requiring her to have her right leg amputated below the knee. Read more about that here

Laurie’s experience more than 20 years ago was, of course, traumatic and life-altering, but, as you’re about to learn, she’s leveraged an incredible spirit – and the support of multiple communities that have her back – to turn her battles into life lessons, celebrating slow progress and the opportunity to find and create meaning in every milestone.

Laurie – who’s come to Campowerment three times (twice solo and once with her mama) and who joins us often ‘round the virtual campfire of – says, “being forced to face potential death and so much trauma at such an early age brought me a sense of wisdom and sense of confidence in my own abilities and what I could do when faced with adversity.” Laurie knew she couldn’t do it alone (a smart cookie) and relied on a strong community of family, friends, and her colleagues to get her through. 

Community as a healing force? …You don’t say 😉

Since she “started journaling back in the hospital (in 1998),” Laurie knew she’d transform her experience into a published book, but for years she was seeking the inspiration to start.

In 2014, when Laurie came to Campowerment for the first time, she was still “pretty shaken up,” needing, as she so gracefully called it, “a kick in the ass!”

Coming from a place in which her career defined her, Campowerment’s number one retreat rule: “No saying what you do for a living for the first 24 hours” gave her that kick.


“It was so liberating for me.”

Without the pressure of living into the identity she had in most all other parts of her life at home, Laurie could, at camp, start to process in a new way. She found the inspiration she had long sought, putting pen to paper in one fateful journaling session with Grandy. The prompt? Grandy’s favorite: The Dash, by Linda Ellis.*

This prompt, what came flowing out of Laurie from it and the conversation with Campowerment women that followed left Laurie awe-struck. To this point, she was functioning in survival mode – through the shooting, her healing, deep bouts of depression, presenting in a way the outside world would never see through her sunshine-y demeanor, and thus, loneliness. 

“I had been so preoccupied; the fight or flight that I had felt and been living in for so long really dissolved and made me crumble.” 

By delving into “The Dash,” she learned to, “start shifting focus onto the dash itself as opposed to the end date.” As a police officer and single mom, she adds, “you’re always putting on armor,” and while it was an uncomfortable shift, it inspired her to, “look more at hope as opposed to barely skating by.” 

After that first camp, step by step, Laurie did the damn thing. And in 2020, when Laurie retired, she finally took enough distance from the content of her life’s story to date that she could process the story in order to create the best version of her book.

Find that book here >> 10-33: An Officer Down Steps Back Up

By the time the story lived in print, after contemplating which publisher to work with, Laurie couldn’t (and wouldn’t) wait months for publishers to get her book out!! “I said to myself, ‘I gotta take control of this,’” as she proceeded to self-publish her story in August 2021. 

Laurie continues to turn to Campowerment for community support and meaningful belonging. 

“My camp network continues to inspire me, helps me stay accountable, and reminds me of what is possible!” 

When looking back on her Campowerment roots, she catches past-Laurie up to present-Laurie:

“While [Campowerment] was a giant step OUT of my comfort zone, it BECAME my comfort zone!” 

Laurie tells us that what she has gotten and what she has given here within camp’s gates – on and offline and in all the moments in between programming, in friendship and connection with the women she’s met here – have totally become intertwined. That the giving is just as big a gift. “Listening and participating in others’ journeys is transformative, fulfilling, and motivating.”. 

For those of us feeling stuck Laurie urges us to give ourselves more of a break. “You don’t always have to be moving in a forward direction,” and highlights the importance of “being okay with those plateaus and downs” because “we know there is going to be another up; it just may not be on a predictable time schedule.” 

And as for what’s next? Laurie told her kids that, after retirement, she’d “write a book and learn to play one song on the guitar.” One of those things is completed;  guess we should be looking out for an album soon… 

In case you missed it above, you can find Laurie’s book HERE 😉

*For those who’ve never heard of it, The Dash is about, upon a person’s passing, thinking beyond the year they were born and the year they died and zooming in to what happens between the years (the dash) to really honor the legacy of a person in all their living. 

. . . . 

Dive deeper and get to know Laurie s’more, in this convo between her and founder, tammi leader…

. . . . 

P.S. HOW ‘BOUT YOU? What are you creating? Where are you growing? What’s got you feeling proud? Your milestones are ours — Tell us what you’re up to >> here. 

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