I never went to a traditional sleep away camp growing up. I mean I went to dance camp and I remember that being at SMU for a week away from the parents but camp CAMP? Never happened. I think a lot of that is because it wasn’t really needed. Mom was home in the summers so that’s when we took family vacations. And I am NOT complaining one little bit… in fact, I’m starting to think that summer camp is wasted on the young.
This past weekend I was fortunate enough to join an amazing group of ladies at Camp Connect. Lonehollow is already an amazing camp for kids in the spectacular Texas hill country, but to have a camp weekend designed for busy adults? Brilliant.
I was ill prepared for everything that this weekend had to offer to be honest. The description I had to go off of was “Ignite your youthful spirit, recharge your energy, and reconnect you to YOU! Book your reservation for Camp Connect, a weekend camp just for women.”
Coupled with that was the instructions for packing that included “We don’t provide hair dryers so bring your own” which made me laugh. I mean come ON… we’re camping right? It’s hard enough for me to fix my hair for work or a date… I’m not going to fix my hair for camping…
I should have packed my blow dryer.
I got there much later than the rest of the guests as I left Friday after work which meant hanging out for an hour on IH-35 with the rest of the angry Austinites who were sitting in their cars wondering where all the people have come from and how we can send them back. (I’m kidding transplants – we love you…) but from the moment I walked in, I knew that this was going to exceed my expectations.
I was greeted at the front desk by Matt who I’m sure has an official title but ever since Jackie mentioned that he reminded her of Gopher on the Love Boat, well, Sorry Matt – the image has stuck. Matt efficiently reviewed the “don’t sue us if you do something stupid” waiver and pointed out the extras available during my stay – massages, Bio Optic Holography, etc – gave me a map and then guided me to where the rest of the ladies were finishing dinner. Of course first he led me to the bar to get a glass of wine first so we, of course, became best friends.
Being socially awkward, I gravitated to the only familiar face I knew while I soaked in my surroundings. If felt very… Disney-like. The dining hall could have been out of Hogwarts or other fantastical place – It’s kinda what I imagine Gaston’s house would feel like.
Gathered around all the tables were women of all different backgrounds, comingling with one another and learning the stories that make each person who they are. Some clearly knew each other while others were complete strangers but that didn’t seem to hinder the, sometimes wildly personal, conversations and sharing.
S’mores by the campfire where we retired with our wine was next on the agenda and y’all know I like me a good s’more… only Camp Connect even found a way to elevate the classic to a whole new level –
That’s right folks – Godiva between two graham crackers and perfectly toasted marshmallow. I highly recommend the milk chocolate salted caramel.
After we finished our wine and s’mores, those of us still around the fire realized we were all in the same cabin so we might as well head that direction. Nothing could have prepared me for the cabins. My pictures will NOT do it justice.
The walls of the cabin we were in were lined with bunks and it took 4 grown ass adults way to long to count how many that cabin could sleep (16 if memory serves but it could be 18) but these were no ordinary bunks – they were solid wood with pillow topped mattresses. Each pair had built in drawers and a shelf inside the beed nook for your stuff. There were two bathrooms and two showers on our floor as well and while we talked about how we could all fit in the shower and should take a selfie to prove it, that never happened so you’ll have to just take my word for it.
That night the four of us in the cabin sat around gabbing for HOURS… It was 2 am before we finally drifted to our separate beds to catch some sleep. That’s the added bonus of ZERO cell reception. You are “forced” to connect with those around you in ways that constant access to technology prevents.
The next day kicked off with yoga (which we all missed) and a hike that was challenging and beautiful with a view from the top overlooking the majesty of the camp grounds. We were guided at the halfway point to pick up a rock and carry it with us the remainder of the trek, contemplating what the year has held for us. At the top we talked a bit about how those challenges and stressors we carry weigh us down and were guided to throw our troubles over the cliff.
After a few moments of personal contemplation we made our way down the hill and back for the remainder of the scheduled activities.
The weekend itself was structured in such a way that you had multiple activities to choose from or could sit out by the lake and be alone with your thoughts. There was horseback riding and a mini petting zoo
And the food. Oh my goodness the food… Chef Mike delighted our palates at ever turn. It was like being on a cruise where your every need was anticipated before you realized you had one.
It dawns on me that as women and mothers and professionals, we often put the needs of everyone else ahead of our own. We think nothing of sending our kids to camp or enrolling then in classes and activities. We don’t bat an eye to give others the freedoms and encouragement needed to find themselves. But when we do something for our own health and inner peace, there’s a voice in our heads that tells us we are selfish. What a load of crap. We are just as important as those around us we give so freely for and I challenge you to put yourself first. It’s not selfish. It helps you to be a better wife, mother, friend, employee and all around person. You can’t put a price tag on relaxation and self discovery. Mostly though, remember that you deserve the best care possible for yourself.
There are plans already for another camp connect in September and I’m hoping my schedule allows me to return. Be sure to follow Camp Connect on Facebook so that you can stay up to date on the next women’s retreat. You can thank me later.
***UPDATE!!! The next Camp Connect dates have been announced!!! Mark your calendar for Sept 30-Oct 2!!! I’ll be there- will you??