I am AM. I am 40 years old and I went to sleep away camp this summer for the first time. LEGIT. SLEEP. AWAY. CAMP. Bunks, bonfires, bubbles, bugles (It may have been another horn instrument but in keeping with the B alliteration theme – lets go with bugle).
I signed up for a three-day excursion two hours north of my home called Camp Good Life Project. It is extremely hard to describe and that is why I am going to lasso some friends to join me next summer. Let’s get that out of the way now. You can do it. Make whatever necessary mental adjustments you need to make now and sign up. If I can do it, you can do it! I am by no means a raging extrovert. I literally parked the car and got out to walk to the entrance of the Camp when a man dressed as unicorn drove straight towards me in a golf cart. I swear I thought “I am not in Yonkers anymore.” I wondered if I should sit back in the car. By the way, I have traveled a good bit in my life and I have never tickled so many people when I said “Yonkers.” You forget how odd the word is till you say to people from all over the U.S., Canada, and Australia etc. It is a funny word. I also apparently sound more like a New Yorker than I realized. It was guessed several times after a few words to a conversational partner.
Another random thought ahead, my name is Ann Marie but lots of friends call me “A.M.” so figuring that this was a group of future friends; I had “A.M.” put on my nametag. I always have a little fun with the Starbucks folks who will either wait me out to finish spelling it or as a few fellow campers did call me “am” like the verb to “be.” Although I think that is way cool too. Hence the first line of this article. Acronyms are fun. Anyways, it is a small mission of mine to make “A.M” more widely acceptable like P.J., J.J. and all the other acronym names. I don’t recall hearing a T.J. called Ta-Ja.
Back to the man dressed as a unicorn. This man proceeded to help me with my bags, putting them in the cart and cheerfully welcoming me to Camp. Unicorn Man was to be an integral part of the Camp experience. He is also hard to describe and you will experience him when you join me in Camp. You know when you take that leap. I’ll hold your hand for the leap but you won’t need it for long. You can do it!
Immediately after the encounter with Unicorn Man there was bubbles, introductions, bonfires and s’mores. Yep, bubbles for adults. I went with it. I’m so glad I did. Camp Good Life Project was filled with amazing people from all over the world. Many who are entrepreneurs, soon to be entrepreneurs, people who want to live a happier life, are looking for change and wanting to be surrounded with positivity for a weekend. Camp GLP was a unique place. My first night there, I sat between two Masterminds (I will admit I wasn’t sure what that was but I googled it afterwards and anyway it’s a cool job title). In my cabin, the woman who slept in the bunk next to me helps people in Africa develop sustainable food growing practices. She helps feed people in real need of food! She is the President and CEO of her company! That’s cool! I can’t use enough exclamation marks here! I’m not sure how I refrained from bombarding her with questions and let her sleep. I must have self-control. To be honest, I could have walked into this group of people and declared my ambition was to be an alpaca farmer and that would have been beyond okay. It is rare to be in a place where acceptance is so readily given to others.
I told one of the Masterminds at dinner that I wrote a children’s book. I haven’t told that to many people and reactions have ranged from mild lukewarm interest to wanting to buy an advanced copy sight unseen. This man who never met me before listened to the story, genuinely smiled along and encouraged me to read it at the Talent Show. I did not wind up doing that because I would have to be hopped up a lot more than s’mores to get on stage – maybe next year when you come with me.
During the course of the weekend, I attended so many great workshops given by really knowledgeable people. I listened to keynotes from authors who inspired me. I also had fun. You know the kind you had as a child. I swam in a lake. Those of you who know me that I am real city folk when it comes to lake swimming. But there I was sliding down a large inflatable slide and climbing up on another inflatable with four other ladies only to fall off while laughing real hard with my mouth open. I swallowed some of that lake. I didn’t care. I did stand up paddle boarding (facing the wrong end of the board the whole time). I thanked the lifeguard who said it was great to guard adults instead of the usual children who inhabit the camp the rest of the summer. I wish I knew what was really going on in his mind during the weekend.
I went for a nature walk around the lake, which almost didn’t happen because my city folk danger alert was flashing in my mind when I thought I had ventured into private property but I kept going thanks to three cheerful ladies who came up behind me and led the way. I almost got in a hammock. Almost. I stopped when I thought, “Who knows who put that up?” “I can’t trust that.” I still have some work to do in releasing some of that city folk apprehension but baby steps.
I took part in a morning meditation led by Unicorn Man each morning. I’m home now and I practiced his guided meditation this morning. He charged up the audience during gatherings but also knew how to lead us in reflective peaceful meditation. I am positive he would take no offense to being called Unicorn Man but his name is Kristoffer Carter (“KC”) You can always trust in those acronym names. He was the resident meditation expert and Chief Spirit Officer for Camp GLP. He was one of many unique individuals gathered by Jonathan Fields, the founder of The Good Life Project. People worth googling but also experiencing firsthand when you come next year.
I could fill up many blogs about Camp GLP and perhaps I will but the whole experience made me feel like I have options. I don’t have to be a supporting character in my life. I have options! Pivot points! I am AM. What about you? You coming with me next year?