Episode 197: Lessons from Summer Camp
You’re listening to Live Free Creative, an intentional podcast with practical tips for living your life on purpose. I’m your host Miranda Anderson. And I believe in creativity, adventure, curiosity, and the magic of small moments. I hope that every time you listen, you feel empowered and free to live the life that you want.
Hello. Welcome back to Live Free Creative podcast. I’m your host Miranda Anderson. Today’s episode is number 197: Lessons From Summer Camp.
This past week, I spent the weekend hosting Grown Up Summer Camp. The second annual Grown Up Summer Camp. Last year it was on the banks of the Bear River in Idaho. This year it was nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.
It was so fun. And I will share a little bit about the experiences at camp as well as the three workshops during the four day retreat. And I want to give you an overview from those three workshops so that you can learn and incorporate some of the ideas and advice that was given at camp in your life even if you weren’t able to be at camp.
Before we jump into all of that, let’s start with a magical adventure moment.
Magical Adventure Moment
On Saturday night, after a true Appalachian dinner of fried cornmeal, dusted trout, collard greens, red beans and rice, and sweet honey cornbread, the group of campers and I set off along the white trail to the bluff.
The forest in the Appalachian mountains is dense and thick with ferns sprouting up along the trail, brushing your ankles. Moss and lichen in every color of green dotting along the pathway and the rocks nearby the trees stretch up into the heavens a hundred feet or more to the highest branches.
And while you can look ahead at the trail and down at your feet, if you’re looking side to side, all you’re gonna catch is greens and trunks and wildness, and the occasional beautiful luminescent dot shining from a firefly. White trail climbs up and up. The switch backs start to feel like a StairMaster.
After 15 minutes, we would pause the group together, breathe heavily. As we waited on our group and then turned and continued the climb through the dense tunnel of trees. The sky was slowly darkening as the sun descended towards the invisible horizon. And we continued to hike a turn onto the road here, a twist onto another trail there.
And we were almost to the bluff. As the shadows of the trees lengthened and settled into the bare beginning of dusk, the fireflies were even brighter. A couple more steps and the forest starts to thin, and our view starts to widen and we step forward onto a small bluff overlooking a valley and the mountains beyond.
It’s lighter. The trees open up and the sky shines through with the sunset. Gentle purples and pinks arching over the ridges of the mountains. Beyond the meadow. In our view, we sit and breathe together, inhaling and exhaling the beauty of this earth and of our connection and of ourselves.
Main Topic: Lessons From Summer Camp
You may be able to tell from my voice that my vocal chords aren’t a hundred percent this week. I think the combination of talking a lot, having lots of really fun conversations, and also hosting. So I was getting people’s attention and gathering the crowd fairly often over the last few days did a little bit of a number on these vocal chords.
I have to say, after last year where I hosted summer camp and about halfway through lost my voice almost completely, and then spent six months without a voice, as I was diagnosed with a vocal chord paralysis and had to go through a vocal chord surgery and lots of vocal rest and therapies and all sorts of things.
I am extremely grateful to have some sort of intonation, even though it’s not totally clear as usual, I’ve got this gritty, deep, sexy post camp voice in which to share the summer camp lessons with you today. I’m going to share about the three workshops that were shared with the campers this year.
The first was all about connection to self, and I taught that workshop the first night.
The second workshop was all about connection to nature and Clara Kline, the owner of the Wild Wander Company taught that workshop in the afternoon on Friday.
And then our final workshop was connection to community and Jasmine Bradshaw of First Name Basis podcast in business taught that workshop on Saturday afternoon before we headed home on Sunday.
All of these topics, these are the three pillars of summer camp: connection to self; connection to nature or the earth; and connection to others or community.
I was really excited to have these workshops in this kind of fun, playful atmosphere as an element of learning together, asking questions and a forum to be able to discuss some of these connections that are so important to us as humans, and especially as women with these workshops as a foundation and a jumping off point for conversation throughout the weekend.
The whole group was able to grow together to have some new ideas, be open to some new questions that we may wanna ask ourselves as we’re creating this life that we love.
I did not record the workshops. I’d thought about that. And then, we were disconnected from wifi and cell service for the whole weekend, which is a super bonus of coming to summer camp. I try to find locations where we can literally unplug for the weekend. It was divine.
So I didn’t have my phone nearby and I’m going to give you an overview. They were probably 30 to 40 minute workshops, so I’m just going to break them down and just give you the Cliff’s notes version of each of these workshops so that you can have some of the same conversations with your friends and family that we had at summer camp.
After that, if there’s a little bit of time left, I want to share maybe a couple more lessons that I learned personally, as the host of the retreats and things that I observed. And some things that I learned about myself as I was preparing to host.
Let’s do some lessons from summer camp right now.
Connection To Yourself
The first workshop was all about connection to yourself. This was a workshop that I led in this beautiful Grove of trees, a little amphitheater nestled into the woods. And I wanted to host it at night because I wanted to use the stars and the idea of way finding by the stars as an example of connection to yourself.
So the talk I gave was titled Wayfinding Back To Yourself. These are the three main ideas.
Find Individual Values
One was individual values. The things that matter most to us are going to be different than for our friends and family. There may be some overlap, definitely. Especially if we’re spending a lot of time with people that we like, and that have similar ideas about the way they want to live, we’ll find more overlapping values.
It is really important that we are able to identify our values and the things that matter and light us up as separate and independent from what we think other people would want our values to be. I shared that most of us in this current day and age are learning really well how to listen to other people’s voices, how to value group think. And we’re inundated by other people’s ideas all day long through social media and media in general.
My invitation is to tune in for a moment to discover or explore what your current values are. And I did this through a series of questions. I’m gonna share those questions with you right now.
If you’re somewhere that you could grab a piece of paper and a pencil or a notebook, it could be really helpful for you to just take a minute and go through these reflection questions on your own.
If you don’t have a paper, maybe make a note or take a screenshot of this episode so that you can come back to it and do these, do this workshop, apply it as I share these questions.
So the first question is: What experiences have brought me immense joy, pride, and fulfillment?
Even if you don’t have a piece of paper in a pencil right now, think to yourself, what are the experiences–recent experience, small things, big things. What brings you joy and fulfillment?
And then the follow up question is: What values are reflected in those experiences?
We can learn a lot about ourselves from examining things we’ve been through and how we feel about them.
The next question is: Who do I admire and what characteristics do they exhibit?
It’s another way to tune into what lives have I been hoping to emulate or another way to ask this question is: What am I a little bit jealous of in other people? And what is that saying about me? What is that saying about my desires or about things that I value that I could use as information, rather than just feel discomfort in my envy?
The final question in this first section of the workshop about wayfinding back to yourself is: How do I see myself as unique–in positive ways–from the crowd?
What are some characteristics of your personality, some strengths that you have that feel definitive to you that feel like they set you apart, not better or worse than–simply different than some of your peers in positive ways.
These questions can be used to help clarify some of your values. And you may have a lot that come out.
I would recommend sitting with these answers and redefining them a little bit, and then editing down to maybe three or four that you could think of as core values. And you don’t have to think, oh, these are my values. I’m sticking to them.
You can experiment, try some of these on throughout the rest of the workshop and just think about them.
I even like the idea of just taking some time every once in a while to check in with yourself and what are the things that mattered a lot fundamentally a few years ago when I did something like this, the same as they are now.
Make Decisions Based On Your Values
The next section of the workshop was about making decisions based upon your values.
So I called this root decision in monitoring or following a compass towards your goal. The idea is that the stars are all up in the sky. They are constant. There are things that we can think about and depending on which values we choose, that’s how we’ll orient ourselves underneath the night sky.
The next step is deciding, okay, those are our values. Now, where do I wanna go? And then how do we align ourselves, point ourselves in the direction of where we want to go using our values to establish where we are fundamentally or where we begin?
These questions are designed for figuring out what do I want my daily life to look and feel like. And I think it matters that this is not a goal oriented question as a beginning place.
I’m not saying what big goals do you like to achieve in the next five years. I’m saying, what do you want your daily life to look and feel like.
The answer to this question will enable you to be clear on so many other questions that arise as you’re designing a life.
And this is specific to you. What do you want the rhythm of your daily life to be? What types of activities would you like to be involved in? What things are definitely not showing up in your ideal day daily life? How does it feel in your body and in your home and in your places of community?
This is a really important question. So I hope you take some time–whether now or later–to really think about it.
The next question is what personal and professional goals are interesting to me right now? Not what do I feel like I must achieve in order to be successful or prove myself, but what are some goals that sound interesting to you?
What are some things on the horizon that you’re curious about, or that you seem interested in learning more about. Not necessarily making a big decision about it, but a discovery zone, doing a little bit of discovery.
The next question is: Where do I feel I’m falling short in my life and are those areas I want to improve on or intentionally disregard? This question, I think, will help us let go of some things.
What are the areas that you’re just feeling like you’re behind and examine that? Not from the starting place that this is something I must do, and so not I need to figure out how to improve it.
But more from the starting place of: Is this even something that matters? the thing that I keep putting off that I’m not actually doing.
Maybe there’s a reason that it keeps falling to the bottom of my list. Maybe it actually isn’t that important to me. And it’s totally okay for it to be important to other people and for it to be top of their list, but it’s okay too, if it’s not important to me. And it’s the bottom of my list.
Maybe some of the things that we think we want to do, we can tell from our actions that we actually don’t want to do. And that’s okay.
That’s where we refer back to last week’s episode. We hold those things lightly and say, huh, maybe it’s time for this thing to flow out of my life or off of my to-do list.
Aligned Action As The Pathway
And then the final section of this workshop is aligned action as the pathway.
How do you know that you’re doing it? How do you know–not that you’ve gotten there to like the end all, because life is always gonna be in process. There is no, “I did it. I’m done.” But instead: H ow do you know that you’re aligned on your pathway? That you’re pointed in the right direction and that you’re anchored in your values.
Here are the questions that you can ask yourself for this one.
How are my daily choices aligned with my values and goals? I love this question. Just think for a second about your day yesterday, what did you do? What were the sorts of feelings and emotions and experiences and relationships that you had?
Are they reflective of your most important values? Are those reflective of the things that you want in your life? And if not, what minor adjustments, minor or major adjustments, can be made to feel in better alignment?
Here’s another question: How do I know when I am walking the pathway I desire? How does it feel when you are making decisions out of integrity? How does it feel when you’re aligning your choices with your values and when you’re pointed to the direction that you want and you’re going at a pace that’s manageable.
And then the final question: What are the emotions, sensations, and experiences that feel like flourishing to me?
Again, the answer to that question is gonna be so different than, you could ask 10 people and there would be 10 different answers to what feels like flourishing, what feels like you’re just flowing and you’re doing it well, you’re doing life well.
I think if you answer these questions honestly, and you spend some time reflecting on your answers and then aligned some of your decisions with the things that you’ve learned about yourself through this exercise, that you will feel better in your daily life, that you will feel more aligned, that you will feel you’re walking the pathway that is unique to you.
I would love to hear from you. If you take the time to go through this summer camp exercise at home, feel free to send me a direct message on Instagram at @livefreemiranda, or to pop into my inbox firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear about that workshop.
Connecting With Nature
Number two of summer camp was connecting to nature with Claire Cline of the Wild Wander Company.
You have got to go visit the Wild Wander Company. I talked about it a couple weeks ago and Clara is an illustrator, a wildlife illustrator. And she has these designs for correspondence cards, like postcards and stationary. There’s also these beautiful letter press prints. She does stickers and t-shirts and all sorts of things.
The main through line is this deep invitation to notice the details of the life–the flora and fauna–that surrounds you even in your own backyard.
So Clara gave this really great overview of how, because of the nature of her work, she is often working on illustrations and products that are six months ahead because she sells to wholesale shops around the country who are buying for Christmas in July, and everything’s a little bit behind and how the irony of working on these incredible wildlife illustrations when she was not even connected to the season that was out her door because she would be working on Christmas-time stuff in the spring or summer.
And she gave everyone this really cool, basic birding handout. That of course I loved because I’ve been so into birding the last six months and continued to just find such joy in that. I think it’s available as a free download as well.
The basic birding worksheet just gives a couple interesting indicators. Clara mentioned that the more we get curious about not only what something is, but what’s the story that it’s telling and how it is connected, we feel much more engaged in our environment.
So an example she gave through this worksheet is there’s a bunch of different beak shapes and wing shapes. The birds that you can see anywhere out in the parking lot at target, in a tree in your backyard, if you go on a hike, soaring above the trees based on the beak shape and the ones that she has listed here strainers, probing, tweezers, cone, and hooked. And there’s a little explanation of those and examples of those.
And then she talked about wing shapes, these active soaring and the elliptical high speed wing shapes. This is a really cool worksheet.
And we talked about how, if you see a bird hopping around on the street or on the sidewalk, and you are able to take note of a couple little things about it.
Get curious about what the rest of that bird’s life looks like. Where might they be coming from? What might they be doing in this part of town? Are they here because they’re, oh look, all of the crape myrtles are dropping their berries right now. So there must be an abundance of berries or this is a kind of country road where there tends to be a lot of roadkill. And so that’s why there’s a big population of turkey vultures that hang out in the tops of those big, tall trees right there.
Getting curious and asking the story about what is the picture of what’s happening? Where does this bird go when it leaves here and where might it have come from? And how are we connected? That can really invite you back into awareness in nature.
I just nodded along and can vouch for every single thing that Clara mentioned. I haven’t been going on birding expeditions out into the national forest. I have literally been sitting on a patio chair with a cup of tea in the morning with my binoculars and my Richmond bird field guide, identifying and reading more about and watching just with wonder the kind of neighborhoods of backyard birds coming in and out.
And some that I’ve noticed are nesting right in my yard . We have a nest in our oak tree in our backyard of a Robin family. And we have a nest of a house finch family, right on the doorframe of my front door. And I will tell you that both of them make me feel like our home was chosen because of its good energy.
And it makes me so happy. I loved listening to Clara talk about specific details. And really just zooming in, that the more we zoom in and learn about and get curious about nature, the more connected we will automatically feel to it.
She gave a couple examples or suggestions. One is to grab a bird feeder and put a bird feeder up in your front yard or backyard, or there’s some really cool ones you can actually just stick onto your window.
And so the birds are feeding right through the glass and you get a really close look at them. I will link a couple favorite bird feeders in the show notes, so you can check those out.
Having simple IDs and field guides was another suggestion she gave. She had a couple with her identifying butterflies in her region.
There’s some that tend to be plastic laminated, pocket guides. You can just keep it in your pocket when you’re hiking, or if you go for a walk in the neighborhood. She said that when her kids were young, she would just keep the field guides in the bottom of the stroller. So when they went out on walks, if they saw a butterfly or a wild flower or a bird, they could open up this guide. It was just right there and you can learn a little bit more about their neighborhood through these field guides.
Again, I will link a bunch of examples that she shared in the show notes.
The final thing Clara has shared about connecting to nature that I loved was that this is meant to be a community experience. You can learn a ton just in your own backyard and with a field guide in your own family. That can be really fun.
And also this knowledge and the really beautiful, natural understanding about the world that we lived in has historically been passed down through mentorships and community groups. She said, if you can just Google search a beginner bird watching club in your neighborhood, or go on a mushroom foraging expedition with a group in your city.
There’s so many ways to easily show up and meet up with friends or new friends to explore and enjoy more of the outdoors. You can do a hiking club. You can go on, join a walking group.
You can volunteer maybe with a trail cleanup group. I know here in Virginia, there’s a group called keep Virginia cozy, that hosts trail cleanups all the time. Every couple weeks, there’s a different one all around the city and you can go and show up and they usually have a cookout or free drinks or something. And you collect trash with a group of Richmonders. They throw it all away, high five and feel connected to people and feel connected to the land.
One organization that Clara mentioned that we all chuckled at and all wrote down was the feminist bird club. It’s feministbirdclub.org. And their mission is this. The feminist bird club is dedicated to promoting inclusivity in birding while fundraising and providing a safe opportunity for members of the LGBTQIA+ plus community, BIPOC, and women to connect with the natural world.
I love that mission. I promptly looked it up and joined my local chapter. They hope to host a bird walk at least once a month. So I’m on the lookout for the next bird watching walk here in Richmond, Virginia, with the feminist bird club. There’s a ton of chapters though. Not every major city, but a lot. And maybe one nearby you. So check it out if you are interested in joining.
Connection With Community
So that wrapped up Clara’s workshop. And next we had Jasmine Bradshaw from First Name Basis share on Saturday afternoon about connection to community. Jasmine hosts the First Name Basis podcast which is an anti-racist podcast for parents and families.
In addition to the weekly show, which is truly like a breakdown on something in history, tons of research and incredible stories. Jasmine does such a good job connecting people to resources and sharing, maybe untold stories that you or your children wouldn’t have heard.
She also has some incredible resources in the form of online courses. So she has ally elementary and ally elementary junior and bite size black history, basically just a total superstar.
I’m very excited because right now, as I’m recording this episode, her family is moving from Arizona to Maryland, which brings them a lot closer to me and my family. So I’m excited to be able to spend more time in person with Jasmine.
It was really fun to see her and hear from her at summer camp. And her workshop was all about how important community is. She shared a lot of great research about how, when we build strong communities, we are able to then have better health, physical health, emotional health, social health.
She talked about putting ourselves out there and. How sometimes it’s scary to sign up for something or join something new, but that those steps are necessary to break through to building your own community.
Maybe you don’t find a community that fits your values or your ideas of what you’d like, maybe you then build one. Maybe you’re the creator of the community.
We talked a lot about Bunco. She shared some stories about how her Bunco group started off really rocky and then it has become one of her lifelines the last few years living in Arizona.
Do any of you Bunco players out there feel that way about your Bunco group?
I know it was definitely like that for me. For a while in Texas, we had a very strong Bunco group. It was a really formal run tradition, just like a monthly meetup. Good food, good friends. It was like the recipe for a perfect hangout.
I have since replaced Bunco in my life with my regular book club, which again, I didn’t join a book club. I showed up to Richmond and decided I needed to start one and created this incredible monthly gathering community. It’s just so fun. It brings so much joy into my life.
So sometimes maybe joining a community doesn’t work. Sometimes you need to create one.
And then Jasmine shared some work adapted from Nicole Celestine PhD.
She is a positive psychologist and she has done a lot of work around the elements of a positive community. So Jasmine handed us a worksheet that had these six elements. She’d chosen six out of a group of positive community to discuss.
Same as with my own workshop, I wanted to invite you to take a pen and paper out and think about these and maybe write some notes down if you want the full workshop effect.
- Share Common Goals
The first one is that a positive community shares common goals. The things that matter to them, matter to a lot of them collectively, they want to be headed in the same direction. So even if there’s a little bit of discussion about the best way to get there, at least they’re pointed the same way.
- Freedom Of Expression
The next element of a positive community is it embraces freedom of expression. Are you able to show up to this community as yourself? Do you feel comfortable there? Do you feel welcome there being an individual, wearing the things that you want to wear, showing up with your hair done or not done the way you feel comfortable, the way that is you.
If you feel like you’re a member of a community that you can’t show up with freedom of expression, that you can’t show up as you, that you need to dress this the right way or look the right way or have the right car in order to participate, or in order to feel at home, that’s something to look at. Maybe that community isn’t founded upon positive community practices.
- Time For Connection
The next element is that a positive community creates time for connection. If you’re a part of a group or a community that you spend a lot of time thinking about how fun it would be to spend time together, but you don’t actually take that time to spend together. You might wanna ask yourself why that is and what could be done about it.
If you’d like something to be done about it. I, as Jasmine was talking, I was thinking a lot about my family, my own personal family, and at home. How are we sharing common goals? How are we embracing freedom of expression within our home with our kids and ourselves as my spouse and myself? How are we creating time for connection?
What does that look like? And when is it? And I realize that every day we eat dinner together. And even as my kids have gotten a little older and have some of their own ideas about activities and things you wanna be doing, we 90% of the time, 95% of the time, are around the dinner table every evening for dinner together.
And that’s a time that we reconnect. It’s a time when we do some fun family practices. We usually end up pulling out a set of cards or a board game and turning that dinner time into game night.
The other thing is that Dave and I, even though that’s a small community, I don’t know. Can you call a community two people?
It just reminded me how grateful I am that we have set aside Saturday nights as date night, forever, like for the last 10, 12 years. And that is just a time that we know we can plan on each week that we’re gonna see each other.
- Celebrate Traditions
The next element of a positive community is they celebrate traditions. How does your community celebrate traditions? How do you engage in rituals? How do you feel connected to the group? What does that participation and those traditions and celebrations look like?
- Strive For Fairness
The next element is strives for fairness. It’s not okay in a positive community for people to feel like they’re on different levels, rather that the community has that sense of positive community, when everyone is valued, when everyone adds value, when everyone’s accepted, when everyone is accepting.
- Open Communication
And then finally this final positive value that Jasmine shared was that a positive community communicates when there is friction, they don’t brush it under the rug or ignore it or try to hope it will just go away.
When there is discussion to be had, when there is some dissonance between members of the group about the way to move forward or the way to show up in community, that is communicated. You can open up a conversation that doesn’t feel like conflict. It can feel like open communication and curiosity.
I really love having this list to serve as a backdrop checklist evaluation. How positive are my communities that I’m engaging in and what might we tweak in order to feel more aligned with some of these research backed values of positive community?
Of course, because it was summer camp, long with this talk, we made little key chains with six beads, one to represent each of the six elements of positive community that we discussed.
And so everyone has this cute wood bead and leather key chain that hopefully will keep reminding them again and again, of how to become part of a positive community or build a positive community and how to feel connected in their lives because of it.
Aren’t those great workshops? Do you feel a little bit enlightened giving you a little backstage pass to the workshops at summer camp?
Lessons From Preparing And Hosting Summer Camp
Now I wanna share just three short, small lessons that I learned or remembered as I was planning for preparing and hosting summer camp. And hopefully these will be interesting to you.
- People Mirror Your Enthusiasm
The first lesson that I learned that I remembered is that people will mirror your energy or enthusiasm if you are the host
So I planned this event to feel very lighthearted, to feel fun, to feel connected. It wasn’t luxury. We were in the woods in cabins. It wasn’t this kind of cool event, I guess you could say. It was really cool, but it wasn’t cool like the cool kids. It wasn’t too cool. It was a place that you could come as you are that you could be silly.
I gave all of my camp counselors these smiley face hats that I thought were so cute and funny and cheeky and lighthearted that we weren’t trying to be like stoic leaders. I wanted the counselors to feel like your enthusiastic kind of funny buddy, that answers your questions if you don’t know which way it is to the bathhouse. I wanted the experience to feel lighthearted.
And there were a couple elements that were included specifically to invite that feeling, one of which being a 900 foot zip line that was like tapping into your inner child, everyone’s screaming and sailing down the zip line towards the mountains.
Another one was the camp song. There is a grown up summer camp song. And you have to come to summer camp to learn it. And we sing it, we learn it together. And then we sing it as we’re doing activities. And the last night, this time around, we sang it as the chef was out making dinner for us and we had them vote on which side of the pavilion sang it louder and better.
And just funny, it just was a good reminder. And this actually reminds me a lot of, some of the work of Brenee Brown when she says that if you show up with vulnerability and the willingness to open up and be childlike and not feel like you have to be too cool or, preserve some sense of decorum.
This was summer camp. It was meant to be fun. And I learned that as I showed up with that energy, that it invited that same enthusiasm from everyone who attended.
Now, of course not everyone had the same personality. There were people of all different personalities, somewhere, a little bit more laid back, some were a little bit higher energy, some were a little bit calmer and lower energy and every single person–at least at one point or another and some throughout the whole event-were open laughing, enjoying themselves, having conversation and really feeling like they could let go. Like they could be who they were.
- People Forgive Tiny Hiccups
The next lesson that I learned, or a thing that I noticed was that people don’t necessarily notice when some small thing goes wrong. And yet they really notice some small detail intentionally created for them.
So there were a couple, little things, minor things that went wrong here, or the timing of something was off. Or we ran out of something.
One of the parts of the welcome pack, the towels that we were gonna use for towels on our river rafting excursion and for yoga mats in the morning, they didn’t come until after I had already left to drive out to summer camp, which was about three hours from my house. And my sweet husband drove them out with the kids. They got there late at night, just dropped off the package, made a s’more and turned around and drove home.
There are a couple little tiny hiccups that weren’t a big deal. And yet there were a couple really small details like having toiletries provided. Trader Joe’s tea tree tingle body wash, shampoo, and conditioner in the bathhouses and makeup wipes and basket.
I do this for all of my retreats, but I think it taps into my history as a registered nurse as well, that I have a little basket with medications and earplugs and tooth toothbrushes and toothpaste, and all of the things that I can imagine someone might need in a personal hygiene emergency, or you’re on your period. There were tampons, there were Advil and Tums and a couple medications and things.
I had several different people mention specifically that they were so grateful for some of those small details that would have been easy to overlook. And yet no one mentioned that it was a little frustrating that this or that thing didn’t happen.
And, a lot of times within an event, whether you’re hosting a dinner party at your house or a birthday party, not everyone knows what it’s supposed to be like.
And so you, as the host often have this idea and then it can feel very overwhelming when things don’t go according to the expectation that you had created. Yet other people, attendees, don’t often know what that whole plan is. Maybe you’ve given them a little bit of an idea of the energy and some of the activities, but they don’t know every single thing that’s planned.
So it’s okay to be relaxed about the details that go wrong. And also it’s okay to zoom in and pay attention and create some small details that might go a long way.
- Make S’mores With Ritz Crackers
The final lesson that I didn’t necessarily learn, but I shared, and I remembered was that the best way to make a smore is with a Ritz cracker.
If you have not tried a Ritz cracker s’more, I’m telling you, I converted everyone there. There were so many people that were a little bit worried about the Ritz s’more but I tell you, Ritz s’more is so good. That little bit of salt was delicious. They’re also the perfect size. Maybe a tiny bit small, but they’re a good size for a s’more.
My very favorite combination of this trip was a Ritz cracker top and bottom, a nicely toasted brown marshmallow and a York peppermint Patty. That chocolate mint disc, along with the marshmallow and the salt in the Ritz is so good. The other favorite was Reese’s Thins. So we discussed this at length as campers that the Reese’s Thins are like the right ratio of chocolate and peanut butter, a regular Reese’s peanut butter cup is sometimes a little bit too much, a little bit overwhelming for the mouthful of peanut butter that you get.
So a Reese’s Thin, a marshmallow, a Ritz cracker or graham cracker. So good.
I also mentioned a couple other favorites that I didn’t have at camp, but fruit, fresh sliced strawberries, or a couple squishy raspberries on s’more are amazing.
And my other favorite kind of late summer early fall s’more is a ginger thin like those little scalloped ginger thins with a smear of Nutella. And then add my marshmallow and another ginger thin. It gives a little bite, that cinnamon ginger taste, and then the Nutella with the hazelnut, it feels like fall. So that’s my favorite fall s’more.
Those are some lessons from the workshop at camp, some lessons that I’ve just been reflecting on over the last couple days as I’m on the downhill slope coming out of camp.
I hope you’ll take a second to spend some time reflecting on those questions that I shared in the different workshops and thinking about what one thing from all the things that you’ve learned in this episode, or that we talked about in those different workshops.
What’s one thing that you could adjust to feel a little bit better in your everyday life? One small thing. Maybe it’s signing up for the feminist birders club and hitting a bird watching meeting. Maybe it’s inviting a friend over so that you feel in community. Maybe it is letting the dishes sit in the sink after dinner while you play a board game with your kids, letting that thing that is always gonna be there wait, while you tune in and have a connective experience right now.
I hope you’ve enjoyed listening to the lessons from summer camp in this episode. I am going to host summer camp again next year. I’m looking into venues right now and I’ll let you know, as soon as it’s available, it will be somewhere west. I’m thinking Montana, Wyoming, maybe Northern California.
I’m checking into venues and dates right now. And those should be solidified in the next month or so.
I also, by way of retreats, have a couple spots open for my fall creative camp. That’s a four day retreat where you have some space to work on personal projects or professional projects in tandem with other incredible women.
So check out livefreecreative.co/camp to see the details for that. I also will have some really fun news coming up in the next month about the 2023 retreats. There’s a new one coming that I think you’re going to like.
Tune in next week. Same time, same place. Bye-bye.