The Camp Experience
I just returned from a weekend in the mountains just outside of Idaho Springs, Colorado. This wasn’t my usual way of spending a few days away from the city. I can often be found in my favorite mountain town of Breckenridge, hiking, biking and spending time with my family and friends. No, this weekend was different. Really different. I spent the weekend with 160 women at the fall Camp Experience weekend at a rustic camp, sharing a cabin room with six other women.
I know what you’re thinking. Why on earthy would I pay good money to go share a very basic cabin room and one bathroom with women I don’t even know? Well, I did know one of them. It does sound a little crazy. And I wasn’t even sure on Friday morning what the whole weekend was about. I went because two women that I respect invited me. Well actually, they told me I had to come. How could I refuse?
What Was It All About?
In one word: love.
I was greeted in the parking lot by happy, welcoming women dressed in their camp clothes, holding on to coffee cups as they warmed their hands. They invited me to park my car and the shuttle would be right back to take me to my cabin. So far so good. The handsome young lad who is a camp employee drove us to our cabin. My cabin was called Rainbow. I walked in and was welcomed to my bunk. Aren’t I a little old for bunk beds? There was a handmade pillow with my name on it and an personalized blue throw blanket. Okay, maybe roughing it isn’t so bad.
Then I was directed to the main lodge to register. More friendly, smiling women decked out in Camp Experience hats, jackets and aprons greeted me. One of the friends who had invited me, sought me out and gave me a big hug. Okay, maybe I will stay. Then I was given a very cool bag to carry my stuff in, along with a schedule for the weekend. My next assignment was to sign up for afternoon activities and spa services like massage and Reiki sessions. I can do that.
I signed up for my activities and spa services just in time to go to the opening session. The main meeting room was in this big open room with windows showing us the sparkling aspen trees and beautiful mountain views. Where do I sit? I don’t really know anyone. Then our fearless leader, Besty Wiersma jumps onto the stage and welcomes us to Camp Experience 2017. From Friday afternoon till Sunday afternoon we were filled up with women telling us how their biggest life challenge turned into their biggest opportunity to change their life for the better. One of these women is Pat Jacques, a champion motorcycle racer whose company ADVwoman, helps women learn how to ride motorcycles off road and champion their fears. As a youngster, she was not the dress wearing female her parents wanted her to be. So, she rode her motorcycle after school to escape her challenging experience of not fitting into society’s role models.
Everywhere I turned, for the entire weekend, beautiful things kept happening. More women gave talks about their lives. One woman offered the opportunity to spend time with her horses. In the ring with these sensitive animals we learned about our own blocks and challenges by the way the horses responded to us. Never mind that I conveniently forgot that I am allergic to horse dander and ended up a sneezing, runny nosed, red eyed mess. I still loved the experience.
There was a “bowtique” to shop at and all the money went to charities chosen by Camp Experience for the year. The spa service proceeds also went to the charities as these professionals donated their services for the greater good. And there was a silent auction. We kept getting gifts all weekend long too. I really like my denim shirt with the Camp Experience logo.
More Good Stuff
On Sunday, there were more surprises. The group raised $10,000 to give to Sister Stella and her Shifting Ideas Through Education for African Women (SITEAW) organization. She works with tribes in Africa to end ritual female genital mutilation. More money was given to other charities as well. By the time the weekend concluded at 2:00 pm on Sunday, I was exhausted and happy.
This was no ordinary women’s networking experience. This was love in action. I appreciate the mix of learning, friendship, adventures, crafting, eating, singing, drinking wine and making new friends. Put all those activities together in one weekend, with the chance to contribute in small or large ways to the greater good, and you have the Camp Experience. Way to go Betsy Wiersma, for having the vision, tenacity and your larger than life energy to bring us together. Thank you!
Do you have a group of women who inspire you?