With old-fashioned digs and newfound friendships, a weekend getaway camp aims to recharge and invigorate women.
Written byKathleen Markel
The sun slips slowly toward the sparkling Pacific Ocean as weary campers trudge up the hill to the mess hall. Day one is winding down, and new friendships are beginning to blossom.
Bunks have been claimed, games have been played, and cocktails are about to be served. Yes, cocktails. This is not a camp for kids.
Campowerment is the brainchild of Tammi Leader Fuller, a former LA-based Emmy-winning TV producer and former summer camp devotee. She found herself missing those magical, silly, bond-building moments she discovered at sleep-away camp. She wondered why the experience hadn’t been replicated for adults, and Campowerment—an experience aimed at women— was born.
Campowerment Malibu (camps are also held in Florida, Pennsylvania and New York) takes place at a former children’s camp perched on a hilltop high above the ocean. Jaw-dropping views provide the perfect backdrop for what campers gushingly refer to as “transformative moments.” After attending the four-day November session, I now understand why Oprah put it on her 2013 Wow List and count myself among the “gushers.”
Like a decadent chocolate cake, this women-only experience is deliciously layered.
Campers sleep with roommates in a no-frills bunkhouse (earplugs provided). There are campfires (with s’mores!), team games, sing-offs, bunk competitions, archery, relay races and pie-eating contests. Never in my adult life have I witnessed so many women unselfconsciously participating in activities with such joyful abandon.
Breaking through adult inhibitions primes campers for the next level: lectures and workshops. A myriad of sessions are offered with catchy titles like “Getting Control of Your Stuff (and Inbox!),” “Redefining Your Lady Power,” “Learning to Exhale” and the legendary “Passion Party.”
Add to the mix hikes, yoga, massages, meditation, Pound (a cardio drumming workout) and a nightly cocktail hour, and you truly feel you’ve reached Chick Heaven.
Campers are fed three delicious meals a day (quite frankly, its worth the $999 all-inclusive price of admission just to have someone cook for you). A sign in the mess hall says, “Share your wisdom,” and indeed women of all ages (the range was 21–67 during my session) from all over the country do just that.
The camp encourages personal growth through dealing with one’s fears. That explains activities like the “Leap of Faith,” which involves climbing to the top of a pole, hoisting yourself onto a platform and making a personal declaration out loud.
Next, secured by a nylon rope attached to a harness, you dive off a 35-foot platform overlooking the ocean. Scary? You bet.
“It’s a moment when you’re completely out of your comfort zone,” says Tammi, adding, “You’re putting the past behind you and taking a leap toward the future you want to create for yourself. And you do it with the support of an entire community below you cheering you on.”
The Leap of Faith was a moment I was dreading all weekend. I’m terrified of heights; I almost had a panic attack driving up the mountain to the camp, for God’s sake.
When my turn came, I climbed to the top of the pole, stood and gazed down at my “sisters” below. I took a deep breath and, much to my surprise, derived a newfound strength. After a weekend of sharing, as corny as it might sound, I felt a sense of camaraderie and communality. And their love and support from below seemed palpable.
I dove toward the ocean into the deep blue sky, floating to the ground to the roar of their cheers. Now that’s girl power.2014 Campowerment Malibu Sessions: September 19-22 and November 20-23. For more, check out campowerment.com.
Paying it forward.