Amy Roberts: Happy campers
November 25, 2014
Perhaps I’m a skeptic. Perhaps I’ve just been excessively marketed to. But when I hear the claim "life changing," I immediately roll my eyes and utter "yeah right." As far as I’m concerned, the only two things in life that are truly life-changing are birth and death. The stuff in between might put you on a new or different path, but it can’t be genuinely life-changing unless there’s a certificate signed by your mother or a medical examiner.
So when my friend Tammi asked me to attend her "life changing" camp last weekend, you better believe my gut reaction was "who’s dying?"
Before starting Campowerment, Tammi was what every career woman wants to be: ridiculously successful at a job others envied. She interviewed movie stars and partied with important people. The stack of Emmys on her desk twinkled in the sunlight that shone through the window in her L.A. office. The awards she accumulated sat on top of books she authored. She had money and status and an impressive contact list. And she was miserable.
Her job defined her, but didn’t fulfill her. So she looked at her life and thought about the time she was most happy. She decided it was when she went to summer camp as a kid. She then decided to recreate that experience and gear it towards women who are struggling, burned out, in transition, need a reboot, or just a break. She went through her contact list and found women she’d interviewed throughout her TV career — women who impressed and inspired her. She told them about her crazy idea — to reinvent summer camp for adult women — and asked them to lead the workshops.
Her list of notable experts include a psychic medium with a two-year waitlist and a Harvard-educated lawyer who jumped off the partner track to pursue a childhood dream. There are fitness instructors, doctors, energy healers, meditation experts, conflict-resolution specialists, parenting coaches, and lots of "if you can dream it, you can do it" types who have, against all odds, proven that philosophy correct.
Campowerment is situated on a hilltop in Malibu overlooking the Pacific. (Which sure beats the view I had of cornfields and horse butts at the 4-H camp my parents sent me to as a kid.) Over the course of four days, attendees select the workshops and topics that appeal to them most. The discussions that follow are open, raw and often heartbreaking. There are a lot of tears. There are breakdowns and breakthroughs. But more than anything, there’s a safe, no-judgment zone, where women are supported by other women.
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While I got a lot out of each workshop I attended, one in particular really resonated with me. The speaker had us write down our top ten problems. People listed their kids, marriage, boss, financial situations and the like. Then she had us look at our list and said, "The only thing all of these problems have in common is you."
Hers was a workshop about accountability and the role we each play in our problems. She talked a lot about how our theories give us our reality. "If you want to believe people suck, you can always find the evidence to support that," she said. "But if you want to believe you will be successful, or happy or loved, you can also collect evidence to support those theories. At the end of the day, whatever theory you put your energy into is what you will prove."
Of course, it wouldn’t truly be camp without a few fun and cheesy activities designed to get you in touch with your inner child. That girl, who once lip-synced Madonna songs in the bathroom mirror, using a hairbrush for the microphone? She’s coming out at the cabin karaoke contest. There are a lot of opportunities to let go and find your playful spirit again.
But more important are the opportunities to find your dreams again. To figure out what you really want, what you are meant to be and to do and to stop giving so much power to the barriers you believe are in your way.
Dare I say it? It’s pretty life-changing stuff.
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.