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Tales from the Tribe

On That Sunday I Realized

by Tammi Leader Fuller
 ∙ Sep 14 ∙ 5 Min Read

Ever fixed up friends from different parts of your life and watched unexpected magic happen? 

gina-wedding-collage

The Sunday before last, I got to see my dear friends Gina and Scott tie the proverbial knot. These two have each found the kind of partner all us single girls are looking for. They’re madly in love and already on their way to happily ever after. No, I wasn’t the matchmaker here…Match.com gets the credit for this one. But it was at their wedding that I was reminded so organically about the power of connection: how it shapes who we are, why we are and who we are willing to let penetrate the very precious world we’ve so cautiously and carefully created for ourselves.

gina-and-scott

That Sunday was a breathtaking kind of a day. Guests were asked to wear white or beige and, from the balcony above, this spectacular oceanfront Laguna Beach setup could have easily passed for an ad in Town and Country. Waiting for the ceremony to start, I took a deep breath and looked out over the water, glancing to my left.

There they were: a handful of radiant women, all beautifully dressed, standing in light, lookin’ like angels, leaning over their partners, presumably sharing something amusing.  Their laughter lingered.  They looked deeply connected, but I knew they were new friends, lots of them, all coming together to celebrate Gina. They are soul sisters she met at Campowerment two years ago; girlfriends who have now morphed into her forever friends.

It’s no secret the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Finding your Tribe has become our new favorite pastime.  We all want to find the right people, and a place to fit in, to be surrounded by incredible people whose life purpose can help us elevate ours. For Gina’s Campowerment girls, that’s rooted in s’mores and pie eating contests, trust-building exercises and secret-sharing. That’s the thread that binds them.

Once the ceremony began, Jonathan, the brilliantly talented Writer/Producer friend-turned-Wedding Officiator, spoke a lot about connection. Not just the kind that links Gina and Scott so tightly to one another, but connection like “so many of you here have found at Campowerment.” A giant plug.  At a wedding (!!!!) He continued on about how this sleepaway camp for grown women brought together so many people, all now linked to Gina (and each other), because of real friendships locked and loaded on a Malibu hilltop over the course of a random weekend in 2014.

Campowerment sisters

Yeah, I was feeling that too, but to hear Jonathan (whose own wife had been to our camp more than once), say it out loud, kinda sorta made my heart sing.

I never did count up the number of Campowerment alum who lit up this wedding (definitely more than a dozen), but I did hear a lot of loving praise being tossed around by almost every one of them. From the cocktail party to the bar to the dance floor and back to the bar again.   

We were all dressed in WHITE but we looked fabulous, which was interesting because you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to know NO ONE (except the bride) looks good in white. But on that Sunday, at Gina’s wedding, every one of us rocked it.  Or maybe we didn’t, but we all felt so fabulous, because we made each other believe we were…that we are…worthy of every ounce of that. That’s what camp friends do for each other.

I danced and laughed and smiled, in total overwhelm, to be honest. This whole scene was, minute by minute, completely blowing me away.

Let’s face it: at our age (and I mean any age after, say, 23), it’s not so easy to make room for new friends, but clearly, Gina opened her heart at Campowerment, and found herself a posse. She nurtured those friendships and helped me to see, on her special night, that camp girls have an unexplainable connection. That became crystal-clear the moment we all hit the dance floor and partied like it was 1999, even if none of us even knew each other back then.

At the helm of Campowerment,  my connection to every one of these women is real and I recognize that our Campowerment Tribe gets cooler and stronger with each new Camper who steps into our little slice of Nirvana, but until this wedding, I don’t think I fully understood the power of what happens beyond the campfire, when everyone returns to real life.

When I left a successful, 34-year career in television to chase my dream of sleepaway camps to help grown -ups live life better, I had no idea what that was really gonna look like.  But on that Sunday, the story revealed itself. Incredible women supporting and loving on each other…’til death do we part.  Talk about a happily ever after.

Gina and Darnell

Wow.

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