Here are my personal tips for women attending Stratejoy Summer Camp:
For the love of all that is holy, if you are high maintenance like me, drive. Trying to fit all you need for camp into carry-ons is hard. It would have been nice to have my own sleeping bag and pillow and a cooler full of adult beverages or a stockpile of snacks that would be safe from prowling animals. At least go ahead and check a bag. I did the carry-on only route and I managed it, but I’d rather not rough it so much next time. Also, do not take a red eye. It’s just not worth it. Unless you are capable of getting quality sleep on airplanes. I am not.
Do not bother with rain gear. Rain coats and rain ponchos are hot in North Carolina. I lasted all of 2 minutes with my rain poncho on. You will be wet anyway with all of the humidity. Wear flip flops and put your cray cray over your head if you don’t want your hair or face to get wet.
Bring bug wipes or bug spray or a goddamn mosquito net and bee keeper’s uniform. Apply anti-bug stuff regularly—especially before you go to bed. They will get you. So be sure to bring some anti-itch cream too. It’ll be a lifesaver.
Make friends with the critters. I have no issues with mice or raccoons, but I don’t necessarily want them in my living space. And I HATE spiders and other bugs. HATE. But there’s no escaping bugs in nature, so just get used to them. You will most likely be showering with multiple daddy long legs. Get over it. Hide your food away in a place where no mouse or raccoon can get at it. Throw any food garbage away in the big camp garbages or a critter will go through your garbage and wreck your entire bathroom in the process. True story. Thank you to my cabinmates who cleaned that up—I was late for morning movement, I couldn’t have possibly done it. ;)
Just know that your hair will not do what you want it to do—unless you’re from North Carolina and you’re used to that humidity. If you have long enough hair, you can put it in a ponytail 24/7, but if it’s shorter, like mine, you’re pretty much just going to want to cover it with the bandana they give you when you show up. At first, I was like, I’m not going to wear that! But since everyone’s bandana color corresponded to their cabin, it became a badge of Happy Turtle pride to wear it. Plus it hid my hideous hair. Also, on the beauty front, do whatever you want in regards to makeup. Many women decided to go sans makeup all trip. Others put on full face. Some made do with only mascara. No one’s going to judge you for any of it. I thought it too humid to try any kind of makeup and I was worried I would be viewed as vain, so I went without. But seeing the pictures now, I’m kind of wishing I had put on at least a little. Do what feels right to you.
Be prepared for some serious homesickness. The first day at camp, I wanted to leave, BAD. I very nearly burst into tears, and all I could think was “I can’t do this. I can’t do this.” Some women were sad about leaving their kids, I was sad about leaving my cats. I also missed sleep in my own bed and our glorious Washington weather. And alone time.Plus, I had been awake for over twenty-four hours. All of that combined made me think camp had been a horrible, horrible mistake. For all of an afternoon, anyway. Getting a hug from Molly, a little solo journaling time, meeting my awesome cabinmates, cocktail hour, dinner, and an awesome evening session with Molly all conspired to put my mind at ease. And while I didn’t get very restful sleep that first night, it was enough that the next morning, I was super pumped to be at camp. I still missed my cats and showering indoors, but I was now open to all camp had to offer.
Don’t be shy about making friends. I say this as a very shy and introverted person. But I guarantee you that every single woman at camp is cool with talking to you. Molly attracts a very wonderful tribe of women and maybe you won’t click with every single one of them, but no one that goes to camp is so uppity as to shun anyone. Go up and talk to strangers—I promise, it’s okay. Don’t wait until the last day to strike up a conversation with the girl in the funny t-shirt or the one who told that really moving story the night before. You just might meet your soul sister.
Don’t be afraid to open up. You might feel like you’re the weirdest or awfulest person on earth for something you’ve done or thought or how you handled a certain situation, but I guarantee that you are not. Not only are you not weird or awful, but you are not alone. Someone else at camp probably has experienced something similar and did something similar in response. Sharing your experiences not only unburdens you, but creates bonds with others who have experienced the same things. This group of gals is there for you and won’t go blabbing your business all over Facebook when camp is over. Feel safe sharing. (Unless you don’t feel safe sharing, of course. Trust your gut.)
Don’t be afraid to set your alarm. I was on west coast time, so a 7 a.m. morning movement class was 4 a.m. to me. I missed morning movement all but one day because my internal clock was still in Seattle. You’re not supposed to use your phone, but if you put it in airplane mode and set your alarm, you’ll be all good.
Don’t feel bad about not doing it all. There are a lot of activities going on at camp. I was totally planning on going canoeing, doing a morning movement class each morning, doing the ropes course, etc. Yet, most days I felt more like arts and crafts than going out on the lake, sleeping in rather than working out, and I totally chickened out on the ropes course. I felt bad briefly, but hey, I got lakes and workouts at home. I can do those any time. Arts and crafts and conversation with a bunch of other creative ladies? Well, that doesn’t happen every day. And deciding not to do the ropes course because I might get dizzy taught me that I still have issues of being fearful of what might happen instead of what is happening. A great life lesson. So, what I’m saying is be flexible and do what you need to do in that moment. You just might learn something and enjoy yourself at the same time.
Enjoy yourself. You bought a ticket and traveled to camp to have a great experience, so enjoy it! Breathe. Smile. Be in the moment as much as you can. I tried to do this as much as possible, but sometimes it was silent hour before I was able to really feel it in my bones what a great time I was having. Maybe some things at camp are more your jam than other things, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the other things too. I hate getting dirty, but I kinda loved getting floured. It took days to get all the cupcake mix out of my hair, but it was so worth it because I had a blast!