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Inventing Fancy Camp

by Chelsea Leader Gold
 ∙ May 31 ∙ 7 Min Read

Adapted from a January 2020 post…

In order for you to fully understand why our hearts are exploding about bringing Fancy Camp into the world…

I’d like to take you on a journey through the concept’s evolution.

It starts with a couple of moments that look and seem like dead-ends, until you zoom out on the bigger picture to 2019, when a beautiful small-world scenario validated our hunch that the world needed Fancy Camp, the first-ever luxury Campowerment experience where women can grow together on the edge of the comfort zone, without giving up the creature comforts of phenomenal accommodations. 

Back to the beginning, though.

Our story begins in 2015:

Tammi (bossmom) is insisting that when an experience is as transformative as Campowerment, there must be a way to bring it to those who would freak from the idea of bunking. I (her partner and daughter) am totally shocked, and at first, kind of irked by this notion. Experiences with intentionally high barriers are my favorite!! I love that the women who’ve come to Campowerment retreats have overcome the hurdles, jumped through their own hoops and agreed to sacrifice what they’re used to in service of their growth, their happiness, their belonging to a community that uniquely understands exactly what that looks like! I’m thinking we’re considering selling out. I don’t like it. Tammi is gentle, actually, and very impassioned to get me to see how many more women we could reach if we’d be willing to meet them where they are, how there might be more to it than upgraded rooming, feather beds, fancier food and spa treatments. She paints color around it, and when I think about how impactful this could be for the state of women, more women than we’ll reach with the camp locale as the setting, I start to “get it.” We work on the concept with one of the world’s most renowned 5-star hotels, in Naples, FL. We’re excited by the idea of a partnership with a brand like this, what it could mean for who would be willing to walk in the door and get their worlds blown with re-ignition. But quickly the path to making it happened seemed to stifle the power of the programming. Too much red tape. Bummed, we put it on a shelf.


An executive at a second chain of luxury hotels that operates in 20+ countries around the world and has a crazy-amazing reputation for service crosses path with Tammi via a good friend in media. Their brains dance the dance, and after a few inspiring brainstorm sessions, we move forward with selling in his team on the life-affirming experience that could innovate their spa offerings for women who are looking for (s’)more…and could innovate our retreat offerings, too! Tam and I fall in love with the offshoot mission to empower women to pamper their purpose at Fancy Camp. And the name “Fancy Camp” joins our copywriting Hall of Fame. (We have a little giggle each time we share it.) We pull the concept when the hotel chain changes ownership and again, the concept starts to lose its magic in the many smart-but-fragmented teams that have goals to meet with it.


Campowerment for Business takes off, and Fancy Camp finds a plush little corner in our hearts to rest for a while. 

Sept 2018:

Campowerment in Sept on the East Coast is a weekend for the record books. So freaking magical that we think we left a mark in the fingerprint of Wayne County’s (home to 20+ camps) history. But it’s really, really cold, and we leave talking about how we’re nuts to have fallen so madly in love with the camp setting and the camp setting only for a retreat like ours. The seed’s replanted: maybe we introduce another way to join the line-up…and we don’t take no for an answer.


As our world sheds its skin (maybe more than once), we are even more intentionally regrowing a new layer. Fancy Camp is part of the rebirth, part of what we will look like in the world, in a way that answers the need for another way to experience camp if you’re simply not down to bunk but still an exceptional and daring woman. We’re ready for something new, and this time, we take the path without the hoops: we set our sights on finding a place we can exclusively rent, in full, and do it ourselves.

We hone in: what can Fancy Camp provide that camp retreats do not?

Intimacy (40 women instead of 150), increased access and the opportunity to connect deeply with every single woman who’s there with you (which comes with that intimacy), a hand-picked cohort that belongs together (with a more intimate group, we decide to open applications and accept women who we think must know each other, now!), and yes, of course, the frills of somewhere that’s not a camp (i.e. private bathrooms, farm-to-table meals and feather beds), if that’s what you’re looking for.

A close friend recommends two venues. I volunteer to scope ‘em out, starting with The Horse Shoe Farm in Asheville, NC. It’s new; opened in 2017 by a family from Miami, where we’re from (and deeply: on both sides of my family, for 80+ years), that have designed and developed projects in South Florida since 1927. Turns out: my dad (John) and the owner of the farm (also John) went to Miami Beach Senior High School (“Beach High”) together way back when!

(We love this! But of course…)

In less than two years, under the mindful leadership of John’s son Jordan (hey, family biz!), The Horse Shoe Farm (THSF) has garnered a word-of-mouth reputation that precedes it. The nine homes on the property are impeccably designed (and seemingly under the vision of Donald Pliner…but really by Jordan’s artist mom!); the spa is awesome: converted from the original stables, with new-age offerings and traditional treatments alike; the food is farm-fresh and fabulous; and, perhaps most importantly to us, the energy is other-wordly. Before I put my bags down (with my two best girl friends who came along for a camp-like weekend all our own), I knew we found our place. We signed for our first-ever Fancy Camp weekend (now Sept 10-13, 2020) before we even left.

In case you’re curious, I never visited the second venue. 

With that, I hope you see how there is no such thing as coincidence…the breadcrumbs are always somewhere near the path we’re on, ready to lead us to our next chapters. So if we (Campowerment) have been under your nose the whole time, consider that it’s because we’re meant to be…because Fancy Camp at The Horse Shoe Farm (which did not even exist when we first invented the concept of Fancy Camp) has been under ours…and together, we are home.

What happens now?

You make spontaneous moves to join us at the first-ever Fancy Camp JUNE 10-13 at The Horse Shoe Farm in Asheville, NC. 40 women, including 5 experts. 4 days. 1 (or more) spa treatment. Infinite possibilities for the breadcrumbs you’ll begin to see from there. Sign up now (quick!), and be part of the history as it continues to unfold.

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