Women in the Woods - Let's Camp 2017 Retreat
Wow, this weekend has been quite the whirlwind! From September 29th - October 1st, Nikki of Gab Lab and I teamed up to host a group of 40 creative women entrepreneurs at Camp Wandawega for our first ever Let's Camp Retreat!
For the past six months, we've spent hours planning and coordinating a relaxing, entertaining, and inspiring experience for all of our campers to enjoy. The idea for this retreat started on a chilly morning at Cafe Streets, developed over nights on FaceTime, and took place at the most beautiful and peaceful Camp Wandawega.
The idea behind the weekend was to bring a group of creative women together to both relax and learn. While we had ample time to enjoy the wonders of camp, we also scheduled a series of wonderful workshops that provided lessons in business, partnerships, and creativity. Angela Wator of Bash Party Goods led a workshop called "Everything I've Done Wrong (and a few things I did right). Journalist Alicia Barney taught the group about "Evolving Your Brand's Voice as You Grow". The women behind Anne and Kate shared their partnership story in "From Besties to Business Owners". Kate Kinze of Sit Kip Productions led "Looking at Your Brand Through a Different Lens" to teach about video tips for branding and social media. Owner of BANGTEL, Liz Klafeta, shared with us the story of building a brand across multiple cities. And Anna Todd shared some insight on "How to Write Web Copy that Sounds Like You." Basically, we had a killer group of women teaching us about their crafts.
But guess what! Planning a retreat for such a large group (especially when it's your first) isn't always walk in the park. Planning meals for 40 for an entire weekend at a camp is HARD. Luckily, Mari Harries from River City Eatery lent us her expertise and made some incredible dishes! Dealing with other's schedule changes and cancellations took some time to get used to as well. On the planning end, you want to make sure everything goes perfectly (or as close to perfect) as possible, but the lives and schedules of everyone are always changing. Also, making sure the event runs smoothly during the weekend is TIME CONSUMING. Nikki, our staff helpers, and I spent most of the time cleaning dishes and setting up instead of partaking in camp activities. But those are only a few things during a truly magical event. I think the weekend went swimmingly and hope that the women that attended think so as well!
Okay, I also want to share some insight into hosting a large scale event as an anxious introvert. I shared some of my feelings about creating The Glossary while being extremely introverted earlier this year and had such wonderful feedback and interactions surrounding the topic. I always want to provide an open and honest space here, both for myself and for readers and contributors. Being surrounded by such a large group for three days was really difficult for me socially. Don't get me wrong, I loved all of the women at camp and I wanted to get to know more about each and every one of them! But it was also difficult for me to get one on one time with everyone, while also preparing for meals, activities, and clean up. Sometimes I think that if you aren't an extrovert, you're questioned a little bit. People question why you aren't as talkative or outgoing, why you may get awkward in large group settings, why small talk is super difficult to do over and over again. But while I may not be a great small talker and I need to have alone time to feel like myself again, I AM A GREAT LISTENER. I love hearing other's stories. I pay attention to small details in experiences and conversations that others do not catch. I enjoy watching people connect and create friendships. That is what I'm good at. That is my skill. And while this may not be a noticeable quality right off the bat, especially in a large group of people, I want everyone to know how much I appreciate them, their business, and their support if I did not get the chance to talk to them alone this weekend.
Overall, this weekend was a dream. The weather was perfect, there were leaves on the ground, we ate dinner by candlelight, shared our feelings over ice cream and pie, made new friends, roasted marshmallows on a 8ft tall fire, sang and danced, watched the sun set and rise, shot bow and arrows, canoed... It was a true camp experience. A huge thank you to Anna, Michaela, Jaimie, Karina, and Alicia for being our right hand ladies and making this weekend run smoothly.
I do want to take a moment to thank our generous sponsors! Kind people from all over the country provided us with food, drinks, and products to share with our campers during meals and in their gift bags. Thank you Seven Sundays, Sacred Serve, Field Notes, Tea Squares, Driftless Magazine, Smash Mallow, Sunday's Company, Chicago Distilling Company, Ipsento, Anne and Kate, Union Wine Co, Belvoir Farms, Justice of the Pies, Bee's Wrap, Pacha Soap, and Liz Flores. You all made this weekend even more special.
I'm still a bit in shock that Let's Camp is over. It has been such a large portion of my life for so many months, that I'm going to miss the weekly FaceTime calls with Nikki and the emails to all of our attendees. We may just have to do another... (picture my face winking over and over).