Today, on January 10, 2023, Campowerment – my third child, beloved business and very-favorite community – turns 10 years old, and I am not only kvelling but also reflecting on how we even got here…how I even got here, to be connected with you, alongside my kid-turned-business-partner and a team of incredible do-ers and believers and people who share a love for life with me and with each other.
This one’s a long one. It can be skimmed, read deeply, shared and many other things. It’s for you, but it’s also for me. I had to write it and offer it to our peeps (you again), to remind and be reminded that we all have a story of how our past becomes our future. Not every detail fits, but some fit more magically and beautifully than we ever would have been able to see at the time.
Here’s where my timeline and Campowerment’s collide:
Let’s travel from past to present, with a nod to future. Buckle up 😉 Disclaimer: I write this in the third person – it feels more journalistic. I can’t help myself…
Tammi goes to summer camp. Begins to “live 10 for 2:” 10 months of the school year for 2 in the picturesque Poconos – where she gets to be her fully expressed self and focus on JOY and friendship, being akin with nature and her own independence.
Tammi at camp Akiba in 1974
Tammi, a student at the University of Florida (Go Gators!), pursues a degree in Journalism (no school on Fridays!) and lands her first job at the ABC station, in the fast-paced world of TV news, in South Florida.
Tammi wins two Emmy awards and becomes a mommy to baby #1, Chelsea.
Tammi covers news across the globe, bouncing around the Americas, learning tons, accomplishing much, but somehow never feeling like she’s enough, as she struggles to juggle life as a young working mom.
Tammi welcomes baby #2, Court, and playtime takes center stage in the Fuller household, where the motto becomes “life… is a par-tay,” the backyard becomes the community gathering place, and Tammi (admittedly) overcompensates for time away with extra fun for all. Tammi continues to travel and begins producing for the TODAY Show, meeting dozens of awesome female thought leaders who impress and inspire her.
Pictured left to right: Katie Couric, Tammi, Joe Garagiola & Bryant Gumble – NBC’s TODAY Show crew
Tammi, still working full-time, becomes a published author, alongside five other (amazing) successful, overachieving stressed out women known as “The Miami Bombshells.”
Their book is predicated on the idea that “having it all isn’t having it all at all,” along with the question women have been asking themselves for all of time, “when is enough going to be enough?!”
The Bombshells have a whirlwind couple of years, going on tour with Harper Collins, eventually running CAMPS (can you believe?!) for women to take a time-out in nature…launching Circles in their first iteration. An adoring fan even writes a musical about the women and the book’s theme. Camp Bombshell leads Tammi to Anne “Sussy” Sussman, who officially becomes her first die-hard camper (and ten years later, becomes Campowerment’s resident Meditation Instructor and ~fairy godmother, too)
Recognizing that women need some help navigating challenging work-life balance (whatever the hell that is), Tammi heads to Hollywood, to help create a TV Talk Show for Warner Brothers called “Lifechangers.” She works with, and media trains, (nearly a hundred) more gifted thought leaders across many genres. She doesn’t know it at the time (we never do, right?) but here, she’s collecting the foundation for Campowerment’s arsenal of experts.
Lifechangers launches…and fails. Tammi is depleted, but powers through in the world of entertainment at EXTRA. Realizing quickly that entertainment TV is not her jam, she has what some may deem a “midlife crisis.” She moved her career, her life, her kid across the country – so she puts her head down and trudges through. (Her Inner Critic’s like, “What else am I supposed to do?”)
A featured expert on the late Lifechangers recognizes Tammi’s at a crossroads, and truly sees magic underneath her stuckness, and invites her to The Burning Man Festival, where she takes the week unplugged to dream. Tammi writes 80 pages in her journal – by hand – outlining an idea that will quickly become Campowerment’s first “business plan.” She returns home to her family with a clear vision and asks – “Can you help me bring this to life?” (Spoiler: they say, “yes!”)
January 10, 2013
Campowerment is born 1.6 miles above the Pacific Ocean at Malibu’s beloved Camp Hilltop. Tammi invites (begs?) friends and colleagues to attend. 40 bold, purpose-driven women attend. Most are in media, so Tammi and the intergenerational Campowerment Crew she and the fam assembles make the first retreat rule: No saying what you do for a living for the first 24 hours…to protect the big wigs from each other, and from themselves, staying stuck in a story that keeps them from exploring the rest of who they really are. Camp rockssss!
Tammi secures a story on KTLA. It airs, is great, and the word is out!
Campowerment makes Oprah’s list of “50 things that make you say WOW.” The 250-ish words that run are game-changing. More press coverage follows, and Campowerment is off and running. (Oprah: if you’re reading this: hey, gurl. Thank you, big.)
Tammi gives notice at EXTRA and goes all-in on Campowerment with her mom, Grandy. With the muscle and brain power of many, they begin to produce lots of retreats with programming that speaks to the importance of helping women reset and “re-ignite,” through the power of playtime. They crank up the volume and start building this kickass community of women who keep coming back for s’more. Press hits really help!
Their 3-generation family experiment to help women live bigger and better is working! Chels runs retreat operations planning, branding and digital marketing…as a side-hustle of a full-time job as Brand Strategist at an ad agency in NYC. Court brings their besties, all students at UC Berkeley (in furry animal onesies), to be Campower Rangers (counselors)…and the intergenerational connections made on that Malibu hilltop become the ingredients for what ultimately becomes the secret sauce. All other relatives bring their respective offerings – connections to professional services, sincere patience as we brainstorm at family dinners, the commitment to doing what needs to be done or packed or shipped for camps. Their family name is “Leader,” and Tammi asks them to prove it here 😉
Campowerment is growing, with retreats popping up from California to the Catskills to Florida to the Poconos. The first groups of campers become repeats (more than 50% of them!!), time after time, because, they tell us, they’re feeling more alive after hitting the reset button Campowerment offers them each time that bugle blows. We watch as repeat campers shepherd in newbies, and a true summer camp culture begins to take shape.
Chelsea, who said right out of college (when she took her first job at TOMS Shoes) that she wanted to do “brand building for movements” (to which we shrugged, before the joke was on us!I) decides Campowerment is the brand she wants to build full-time. She leaves advertising to join Tammi and Grandy, and takes the reins to bring Campowerment from event to community to business.
By the end of summer, the growing lineup of experts is now close to 50 game-changers.
Camper Linda McGuigan, an executive in corporate leadership solutions, brings to our attention that this “camp is not just for kids anymore” shtick is “not just for women anymore,” either! She says things way ahead of the mainstream like, “corporate culture” needs what we offer, because “employee engagement” is growingly important to companies…or needs to be!
“Watch,” she says, when we doubt our emotional strategy to change and transition will resonate with companies…or “work” for men. She connects us to lululemon – helping us understand this transformational playground is for everyone bold enough to show up to it.
We produce our first co-ed corporate retreat and begin to see how badly humans need to unload a few rocks from the heavy “backpacks” they’re hauling around, day after day. And that getting people out in nature, to get real and let their hair down can actually help build a strong culture – for any group, team or organization – through the power of vulnerability, and deep connection, which we offer through playtime.
Tammi and Chelsea hear men’s laughter reverberating from the hillside. They share a forever-memorable high five. A new Campowerment offering is born: custom experiences for organizations. (Who woulda thunk?!)
Heartbreak. We lose our first camper, Raquel “Rocky” Lima, one of the OG “Bug Juice BitchezZz” of Cabin 4, Malibu, November 2013. This group of women first came to camp solo, and returned a few times. Through a grassroots effort, they raise money in Rocky’s memory, and establish a scholarship to send women to Campowerment. That momentum eventually inspires Tammi, Grandy, Chelsea and co to create a 501c3 nonprofit, now called Give Her Camp, enabling this community to increase equity and access for its own bountiful and regenerative future. Through it, you’ve sent more than 60 women to Campowerment who would otherwise not have been able to be there.
Campowerment lands its ONE BILLIONTH earned media impression. Even as a TV Producer, this blows Tammi away…
Campowerment hires its first full-time, non-founder, non-family member employee: Lea Carlson, another summer camp junkie who’s almost as obsessed with the camp life as Tammi is. The love pouring into the inner workings of Campowerment expands exponentially.
Grandy, our Goodwill Ambassador turns 80, and ONLY wants to celebrate with her camp sisters, aged 21 to 80 (she’s the bookend of the age range – ha!), in Malibu.
Her pre-dawn, panoramic, DJ-clad dance party, sponsored by Pressed Juicery, is an absolute rager and a memory that will never get old…and it makes us realize that our spirits don’t have to, either.
For the first time ever, our retreat is sold out! But as fires threaten Malibu, we are forced to cancel camp #25 (our 17th at our Malibu home base!).
By the next morning (when campers were scheduled to arrive), the camp was decimated, swallowed up in 200-ft flames, taking with it everything we owned. What’s left is abundant, though: our passion for our people and our purpose: to help you find yours.
In the most beautifully generous act of community care, our campers resuscitate our business through a GoFundMe campaign. We also receive close to 1,000 love letters from former campers and THEIR people, thanking us for helping them realize their own dreams over the past five years. Before long, we are back in business, in search of another spot to host a rescheduled retreat…with a deep understanding that home is wherever we are with you.
Tammi’s on the fritz with the disruption this Malibu fire caused Campowerment’s plans…and her life. She recognizes she – and they – could have lost more, and is over-the-top grateful for the efforts of the community, but she’s trying to figure out what the Universe wants her to know. Responding to the rapid-fire changes (literally), Chelsea becomes CEO.
We gather in the snow for our rescheduled “Phoenix Rising” winter camp near Big Bear, California. The Today Show joins (again). Epic comeback, felt by and enabled by all who are there.
We find a new happy place in Ojai, California and are over the moon to be back in the saddle again, at a camp that feels like ours. During this camp, Grandy, who’s been battling downstream illness from a fall, says goodbye to us, promising to try to wait until we return home from camp to make her grand exit. She does. It’s breathtaking and beautiful. We grieve as a family and as a community, and we rise again, together.
And then came the unthinkable:
A global pandemic. The quarantine begins and so many of our Campowerment peeps reach out, pleading with us to help them stay connected…to each other. The first iteration of our digital programs begin (14 a week! All donation-based), and all the money we collect goes to folks in, or connected to, our community, who find themselves unemployed or needing aid, unexpectedly and direly. In 5 months, we reach thousands of people with more than 250 hours of live, interactive, expert-led sessions. We’re on to something here…
Our year-round community launches on Campowerment.com. With programs from caring for aging parents, exploring your sexy, healing your energy to navigating tough conversations to Full Moon Circles and entrepreneurial basics to grow your big idea.
Sometimes, as you know, the foundation needs to crack for the light to come in. We came out of hiding for our first post-pandemic Fancy Camp in Asheville, NC, and it’s marvelous, dahling. We’ve never appreciated the hugs more.
As millions of workers slowly trickle back into their offices, our enterprise programs for businesses and organizations grow, due in large part to some former campers who had brought this new, post-camp feeling of purpose and optimism back to their places of work and affiliation. We get to work with, and infuse re-ignition into, campers from non-profit organizations to industry networking events to conferences that offer CEU credits and more.
We re-open Classic Camp’s gates and gather for another epic weekend. It’s the most age-, ethnicity-, and income-diverse retreat we’ve ever done. We all feel it, and it deepens the richness of the fabric of the community we all call home. We fund a record-breaking number of Give Her Camp scholarships…and get to witness members of our digital community meet each other for the first time at camp, and feel like they have been camp friends all along.
We feel the tides of gorgeous change wash over us, and we’re amped on what the future holds.
We do less, better. We experience our most bountiful year since 2018 (when the biggest business changes found us), and we prepare to turn 10 years old, learning lessons big and small. We come to realize and remember that what we love the most about what we get to do is the same as what we loved from the get-go: sacred gathering to celebrate all we are and all we can become together.
January 10, 2023
Campowerment turns 10! We throw a birthday party – you’re all invited. We thank you, unendingly, for the decade that’s packed the most punch of all the decades in Tammi’s life, and in Chelsea’s. And, ya know what? In Grandy’s too.
We dream, vividly, about the impact we get to continue to have by creating outrageous experiences for people to find true belonging, connect with their greatest gifts and get ready to do the damn thing.
We recognize why our WHY matters: Because a person who feels charged, gets to serve the greatest needs of our time.
And we keep our eyes, our ears, our hearts and our dreams open to meaningful expansion that’s rooted in who and what we already are.
We double-down on our commitment to empower you to realize you are not alone, are absolutely enough and are ready to be unstuck in your journey to making your greatest impact.
We dream of growing through who we know (and who your growth impacts).
We set sights on finding land to build our very own transformational retreat center for us all to really put down roots and call home.
We feel proud, and excited, and thankful, and FULL (to overflowing), on Campowerment’s birthday – the one we share with you who’ve been here, whether you were standing in Malibu beside us on Day 1 or just got here (to the end of this exceedingly long story) today.
. . . .
And that’s our story – or this one, at least. I end with a question…10th birthday edition:
Where does YOUR past meet where YOU want to take your future? What role can this community play in it?
We’re ready to be here for your grand adventure over the next 10 years. Are you?!
From the campfire & beyond…