Soul Camp: Or How I Decided to Stop Hiding and Embrace My Place

On September 9, 2014

I’m not sure I can emphasize enough how much I love camp.  Like, I’m caaaamp person.  I went to all the camps, all the time.  I went to Jewish sleep away camp, acting camp, field hockey camp, I even went to Space Camp.   I’ll repeat, I love camp.

So when my soul sisters Ali Leipzig and Michelle Goldblum created Soul Camp, an “adult sleep away camp for the soul” my heart nearly exploded with happiness.  They spent months planning this incredible weekend full of healing, movement, learning, breathing, and farming 😉 all in conjunction with the directors of the camp they both attended as kids, Camp Towanda.

[Camp Towanda is also the setting for my all-time favorite movie, Wet Hot American Summer.  If you haven’t seen it, add it to your cue immediately.  It is the most hilarious movie the world has ever known.  No hyperbole.]

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Even though I loved the idea, I have to admit, before going to Soul Camp I was a little nervous.  Since I’m in the midst of a big transition I’ve been feeling very protective of my time and have been kind of closed off to meeting new people.  New friends= more people to miss, and I don’t need this move to be any harder than it already is!

Yet, as soon as I got to Soul Camp, the fear faded away and I instantly connected to why I loved camp so much as a kid.  It was a time when you could try on a different version of yourself.  For instance, at home I was a timid,  but at camp I was brave.  At home I was part of the group, at camp I was the leader.  Camp Quinn knew what she wanted, and always got it.  

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As soon as I arrived at Soul Camp, it was Camp-Quinn was in full effect.  Like a boss, I was on the schedule with 4 farming classes where I was able to talk about where our food really comes from, what it actually means to be “organic”,  the importance of healthy soil, what questions to ask your farmers and let everyone taste food growing in the camp farm.

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I also co-created the menu and all the recipes for the weekend with my {Healthy} Cooking Camp partner in crime, Robyn Youkilis.  Together, we made sure everyone at camp was properly nourished and also found time for “quality control” check-ins with the cute dudes working in the kitchen.

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I could honestly go on an on forever about each perfectly curated element of the weekend but instead I’ll focus on what for me what the most powerful, transformational moment I’ve had in a long time.

On our very first night the evening activity was a fear burning ceremony lead by Julie Santiago.  A huge bonfire was built in the middle of the field and Julie spoke poetically to the whole camp about what it means to rise above our fear.

We were each given 2 note cards.

On the first card we wrote an “I AM” statement.  Something we know to be true about ourselves but want to embody more fully.  

I AM REMARKABLE.

That we held onto it and each put in a special place.

On the other card we wrote a fear or idea we’ve been holding onto.  The thing that holds us back from our goals, the story we need to relinquish in order to live our dreams.

I AM WILLING TO PLAY SMALL SO OTHERS FEEL SAFE.

We threw that card into the fire…

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For some, it was hard to let go of their fear.  It took a while to really process it, and to fully release it.  Our fears become a part of us, they become entangled with our identity.  They help us make excuses and allow us to play it safe.

That wasn’t the case for me.  I knew exactly what I needed to write.  I marched right up to the fire, chucked it in, said “see ya!” and walked gingerly back to my spot in the grass and laid on my back to stare at the stars.

photo credit: Zak Mann

photo credit: Zak Mann
That’s me lying on my back front and center.

That set the tone for fearlessness.  After that, so many things happened at camp (even though it was only 3 days).  I opened my heart to about 10 new friends I’ll cherish forever (so what if I’m about to move 10 hours away?), I relentlessly flirted with my camp crush (who doesn’t love a camp crush?), and even though I didn’t always have a huge turn out for my classes, I poured my heart into each one.

soul camp teachers

I allowed myself to be vulnerable, I let people in, and at no point did I play it small.

So, with the power of Soul Camp at my back, I feel ready and empowered for my next big phase.  Like at camp, I can try on a new version of myself when I get there, but I’m pretty sure I’ll stick with camp-Quinn…considering that who I’ve actually been all along.

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