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Paige’s Self-Love Journey, and What Camp Has to Do With It

by Tammi Leader
 ∙ Feb 14 ∙ 6 Min Read

“I was always envious of those women who could walk right into a room and own it. I’m a big personality, and people who know me may tell you I’m ‘a lot,’ but really, I was just insecure, trying to fit in, and wondering what others thought of me.  

Truth be told, I never really felt ‘whole.’

. . . .

Ever felt any of those things? Insecurity, not enoughness, lack of self-love? (Me, too.) While you may know that feeling camper Paige Yablon Bass describes, this story is meant to remind us this Heart Month that self-love is both the journey and the destination available to us all!

I’ll start by sharing with you what Paige shared with me: that self-love is something she hadn’t known until later in life. And that, through her Campowerment experiences, Paige was able to uncover the parts of herself that she’d once hidden and finally began to heal, shifting how she now views herself and the world around her: with a lot of heart. 

Ready for this one? Paige shares:

“After my marriage fell apart, we lost our home and my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, I knew I needed something to keep me from slipping further. 

I never went to sleepaway camp as a kid, but we always sent our children to one in the Poconos. And every year on Visiting Day, I used to wonder what my life would have been like if I could have gone away. Then one day, when I was 49, I saw a story on Campowerment on the TODAY Show. Who even knew anything like this existed? I just knew I wanted to go.

At the time I wasn’t in the financial position to get myself to camp. But then I read that this camp for grown-ups was happening at the very same camp where I sent my kids… What are the chances?

I decided I had to do this and treat myself for my 50th birthday, so I took this as a cue and started saving up, to do something for me, for a change.”

Editor’s note: self-love starts here, the moment you decide you are worth investing in. OK, back to Paige.

“I was not in a great place when I showed up to camp in the Fall of 2018, alone, but was so ready for whatever I would find there. I just hoped I would find some healing. But when I got to the camp, I panicked, feeling unbelievably uncomfortable, and like I had made a huge mistake. As the hours passed on that first day, I really wasn’t sure this was gonna work for me.”

On that fateful first day Paige describes, she headed to her cabin to unpack, trying to stay open to the unknown.

“As soon as I walked in, I saw a plaque on the wall with my son’s name on it. At a camp with 650 kids, I was randomly placed in the same bunk where my son Parker lived in for 7 glorious weeks that summer!!”

From that moment on, Paige says, “the stars just aligned for me. My bunkmates were fabulous and that first night, we bonded immediately.”

The next morning, Paige set out to find the yoga class, but got lost and ended up at Radical Movement with DJ, Coach and Movement Catalyst Tasha Blank. Using writing, dancing, talking and receiving guided somatic meditations, Tasha invited campers to create a mind-body breakthrough around a specific issue.

“It was wild! I was sweating and dancing and releasing so much resentment I didn’t even know I was holding onto. It was the most freeing experience I had had in a really long time.” 

By the middle of day two, Paige told me she could actually feel her emotional pain begin to lift.

She savored every moment of that weekend, making her own memories at the camp where her kids grew up, leaving with new friends and a different perspective.

Paige returned to camp this past Fall, her third time around, knowing by now that whatever she needed in her life would be ready to greet her there. And there it was: in a Circle led by Caitlin Peterson, LCSW, Integrative Psychotherapist, CHt, about discovering new ways to be proud of who you are. 

There in that Circle Paige began to see that she was not just OK, but pretty freaking special, exactly who and how she is: strong and kind and loud and fun and real. And if people didn’t like her? Oh well. 

Now, if that sounds elementary to you, rock on. But for those of whose soul needs to hear it again, moments like these hit. And Paige’s soul needed to hear it, right then and there.

After the Circle ended, with the fresh reminder held close, Paige went back to the cabin to change her clothes.

“I had bought a funky and flashy outfit to bring to camp…hoping to get up the nerve to wear it. It was so ‘me’ but not something I would ever wear at home, afraid of what people would say.

At camp I felt like I was expressing myself in a whole new way, and I loved it. And when I came home, I f*cking wore that outfit! I’m so proud of the way I gave myself permission to embrace myself so differently, and every time I walk into a room now, I am starting to own it. I carry myself a little differently, just being Paige. Because that’s who I am. And it’s pretty cool to feel like this at 56.”

. . . .

This, my friends, is what self-love looks like. Go, Paige! And go, you – if you’re driven to bring s’more love into your life, too!

Make like Paige and find not what you want, but what you need, this Fall in the Poconos

Info + Registration Here

 

  • From the campfire & beyond,
  • Tammi and the Campowerment Crew

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Way-Fun Fact #20
Our founder Tammi Leader Fuller spent 30+ years as a TV producer before rediscovering her true passion: camp culture as a vehicle for growth.
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