Camp Mighty.

Camp Mighty.

Photo by SAWK Photography

My experience of any project I do is always so weird, compared to those who experience it as it should be. For instance, Camp Mighty…which wrapped a week ago, started for me about 14 months earlier.

Fall 2010: I don’t completely remember the origin of it, but it sounded something like me or Maggie or Maggie or me reconfirming thoughtfully or nodding our heads furiously that we wanted a bigger version of Mighty Summit. The place where we’ve always had it has 14 rooms, which doesn’t translate to a lot of people…even when you pile them in like a clown car.

November 2010: We first thought Portland, because we first thought June.

January 2011: I visited possible Portland locations with Susan. They were cool. It was cold.

February 2011: We decided November was a better month. However, Portland is also cold in November. Dilemma.

March 2011: Maggie and I decided Palm Springs sounded interesting in November.

May 2011: We visited Palm Springs and fell in love. We hatched plans with increased specificity.

June 2011: The site was developed, Camp was announced, and it sold out in six days.

June 2011 – November 2011. The real work started. This is the part that was really interesting. It’s also the part I’ll spare you the details. Because oh my God they’re detailed. This one was like birthing a child. In all the good ways. Mainly. But throughout the process, I kept saying that this felt very similar to developing the first Mom 2.0. I took that as a good sign. Nothing quite like this has been done before in this context, so it was hard to explain to people. But those who got it, got it. And I knew it would be something very special.

November 2011: Camp Mighty happened. And it was fantastic. In fact, of all of the events I’ve been involved with, it was one of my very favorites. It was fun, relaxing, inspiring, and honestly, (I’ll say it) life changing. You could feel it. It was architected in a way to provide insights, challenges, and literal space and downtime for actual, visceral change. Our intentions going in: That everyone would meet two new friends, get three new pieces of information, and make five commitments. And that happened. I made about 20 new friends on the first night, as we raised a glass to giving with Ecco Domani and listened to The Tontons. I gained about 27 new pieces of information from Catherine Connors alone, who lead the Social Media for Social Good discussion in the Johnson & Johnson clubhouse. We also raised over $25,000 (and counting) for Charity: Water. And $10,000 for the Ronald McDonald House Charities. We heard from five exceptional speakers. And we had a space party while we were at it. (Since Palm Springs is the moon. No really, when you’re there, you feel like you’re on the moon. With Bob Hope and Carol Channing.)

So since Camp Mighty has been heavy on my mind for over a year, I hope you’ll understand that it’s going to take me a while to completely process it. Hell, it’s going to take me a few more weeks to even recover.

So until I do that, here are some recaps from people who experienced Camp Mighty as it was intended… starting November 10, 2011.

Alice at Finslippy: Happy Camper
I read somewhere, though, that in order to have extraordinary experiences, you have to be okay with discomfort. This has been true for me with just about everything else. I get on planes and stand in front of audiences and those things make me shaky and weak, but they’re so worth it.

Amber at The Amber Show: Camp Mighty 2011 Summed Up

Oh, Camp Mighty. It’s hard to explain what it is because it is so much more than words can tell, but basically it was a weekend where we brought our Life Lists and focused on accomplishing things.

Amy at Just a Titch: Camp Mighty Recap

For me, the best part of the weekend was the fact that it completely lacked nay-sayers. At one point, we sat in a room, in teams, and shared our five goals for the year. I watched 25 adults sit in a room and hold space for people to laugh and cry and share things that are scary and hard and vulnerable. I think that so often when we put ideas out into the world, we’re afraid to be earnest about them. I can’t count the number of times I’ve wanted to write something in this space and taken it down because I was afraid someone would mock my emotions or thoughts. I brush aside my biggest dreams and goals sometimes because it’s easier to make a joke or focus on other things because taking yourself seriously and putting yourself out there in a genuine way is scary. It’s easy to tear others down for following their own dreams, too—I’m guilty of being uncomfortable around people I find too earnest or things that feel different than my own goals. It’s easy. This weekend made me want to pursue my goals and dreams with total focus. It made me want to be a better person, to be the best version of myself everyday. It made me incredibly excited about my future and helped me define some goals I’ve had for a long time. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Andrea at Four Flights of Fancy: The Rundown and Camp Mighty in Pictures
The speakers were incredible, truly they were.  Lisa Congden and Brian Piotrowicz were my favorite by a mile and I found their talks both inspiring and uplifting.  Lisa managed to reinvent herself at the tender age of 37 and is now an accomplished and amazingly talented artist.  Brian spoke about intentionality, something I try to always keep at the forefront of my mind.

Anna at Positively Anna: Mightier Than Ever
I need to do some sorting out before I can write it out for you, but I will tell you that something major happened to me this weekend. I don’t know how to describe it exactly, but there as been a shift. And I’m excited, and when I finally get some sleep I’ll be energized too.

Annie (Hall) at Amusing Pursuits: A Mighty Good Time +  Camp Mighty Part 2, Life Lists

There was a poster at camp that said: “People Make It Better” and going around our circle sharing our lists and supporting people who no longer felt like strangers seemed to illustrate this point quite nicely.

Asha at Babble Voices: If you write it, they may come…true
Despite peoples’ different circumstances and reasons for being there, the playing field was beautifully and touchingly level. Camp Mighty wasn’t about self-promotion. It was about promoting our selves.

Becca at Stumble and Leap: Small + Factors in Success: Metal Grit.

My dreams are huge. So huge that sometimes I can’t see past the fear and the failure. So huge, that I can only start small. Small steps. One foot in front of the other towards a small life which is defined by daily progressions of small genuine moments and meaningful action.

Caleb at The Exceptional Man ⇒ When (Some) Guys (Sort Of) Invaded Camp Mighty
But a conversation I had on Saturday night with Asha Dornfest and Stacy Morrison about the changing role of family dynamics and the ongoing identity problem with modern men (yes, I geeked out on this) has really had my head spinning since. The main thing I’m contemplating: would something like Camp Mighty work for men specifically? Would most guys get excited about making a Life List, setting goals and then encouraging each other to reach them? I of course loved this exercise, but I’m not convinced that the majority of men would be into it. I feel like it would be seen as to vulnerable – and by extension, too feminine. Not that this is in any way a good thing.

Cecily at Babble’s Mom Crunch:  Report From Camp Mighty  Uppercase Women: Intention
I fell asleep last night thinking about intention, and realizing that focusing on intention has informed my life these last four years, ever since I quit a mediocre job to be home, to write full time, to be me. For the first time in my life I’ve begun mapping out my next move, thinking hard about the best place for me to be, about the best next steps, about taking the road that best serves my long term goals. I have long term goals!

Eden at Fussy: Day Eleven + Day Twelve  + Day Fourteen 
She (Evany) spoke about being somewhat anti-life list, and being open to what life brings you in the moment rather than planning things too precisely. Here I realized that if you resist life list-style planning, as I do, it still behooves you to embrace chance, opportunity, and as previously stated, intention.

Ellie at Things I Ate in General : Not At All About Food
I’ve spent the past few days in Palm Springs attending Camp Mighty. In this time I have: made a balloon animal, sprayed a fire extinguisher into a field, learned how to throw a punch, learned how to make punch, gotten a Mondrian painted on my hand to raise money for Ronald McDonald House Charities, sipped Tang cocktails while dressed as Amy Pond, had my picture taken for a street fashion blog, sat in a hot tub in the rain, and more!

Erica at The Elbow: Camp Mighty in Pictures + Camp Mighty: ALL the Details + The Rest of the Details
It cannot accurately be expressed on this blog how moving this session was. I have never felt so needed/wanted/and perfectly at home in such a large group (~25 ppl). I felt like I belonged. That session made the whole weekend worth it.

Heather at Dooce: Recovery and Embracing the Pain
As everyone stood up and talked about their lists I realized that the last year of my life is a representation of what can happen when you open yourself up to possibility. 

Heather at No Pasa Nada: Taking the Bull by the Horns
The point of Camp Mighty wasn’t just to snuggle with my dearest friends though, that part was pretty lovely. It was to take a good, hard look at your life and remember what you want out of it. You only get one shot at this whole living thing so you might as well do it up now.

Holly at Nothing but Bonfires: True Life: I Was a Pregnant Alien
I spent the weekend at Camp Mighty in Palm Springs, where I had the most wonderful time. It was kind of like those girls’ getaways you always read about in magazines that tell you to do things like go on girls’ getaways—right after you buy yourself fresh flowers every week and just before you sprinkle organic flax on your oatmeal, obviously—except a hundred times better because I got to dress up as a pregnant alien.

Jen Epting: Staying Gold
At that moment, she realized that she had a choice. Do you lean into the worst version of yourself, the one who longs for life to roll out wide and long ahead of you towards retirement? Or do you hold yourself to the highest standard?

Jules at Pancakes and French Fries: Camp Mighty

She (Lisa) started off her talk by sharing she is a big introvert. I know the feeling. Then she spoke about her life and how she changed it, focusing on the last five years of explosive, prolific growth. It was inspiring to see how someone around my age folded themselves into a chrysalis and emerge changed and renewed.

Leslie at Lights and Letters: My Camp Mighty Top TenPictures from Camp Mighty and Five Goals for the Year (Leslie has a great round up of posts, many of which I grabbed from her here…although I’m pretty sure she has even more, so go check her out. Leslie is a superstar.)

The total amount raised by everyone who participated in Camp Mighty (including the Ace Hotel!) was over $25,000. That’s an astounding amount of money!! So we reached our goal and funded a third of the cost of a drilling rig for Ethiopia. The SUPER cool thing was that we raised enough money for 1,111 people to get clean water by 11:11am on 11/11/11. Man, when numbers line up like that, you just know great things will happen. Epic things. 

Lisa Congdon: Camp Mighty

This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to Camp Mighty at the Ace in Palm Springs — both as a speaker and an attendee. It was awesome. The Ace Hotel in Palm Springs is really a cool place. I met so many amazing people at camp and learned so much. 

Margit at What’s Your System: System: Make A Life List
We also heard from systems addict Buster Benson (coming soon to this blog!), creator of the highly useful 750Words and Kenna, who talked with Maggie about Summit on the Summit and how “you don’t have to be as big as Bono” to start giving back.

Matt at Matt Binkowski: A Mighty Eye Opening Experience

I’m used to brainstorming at work on a client’s behalf, but rarely never have I done this for myself. The feeling was very liberating and brought me into the moment like very few things I’ve experienced before.

Megan at Not Martha: Camp Mighty!

The camp was set up so that we had plenty of time to find each other and chat and I was delighted that most everybody could be found hanging out by the pool. Even when it was raining cold, cold rain the place to be was in the steaming hot tub. It reminded me of the summer in college that I spent in a small town in Italy, there were no phones so if you needed to find people you just went to the piazza and either found them or somebody who knew what they were up to. Our weekend at the Ace was like that, but with a hot tub.

Meg at A Practical Wedding: Camp Mighty: Dusting Off Our Power

But what really blew me away about the weekend was being around people who were serious about changing their lives. It’s easy to think that writing a Life List is a silly exercise, or wishful thinking, or just greed. It’s easy to write off people who have a life you want as being lucky or privileged and not make the effort for yourself. But what I was reminded of this weekend is the sheer force of will that’s involved in changing your life. 

Meg at Megasmom: Camp Mighty

The weekend (Camp Mighty in Palm Springs, CA) was a great break from the rituals and routines of my daily life.  I enjoyed the relaxation, the interesting speakers, the creative activities, the sun, the water, the mountains, the palms… GOOD.  We were lucky enough to find the balance between planned retreat activities and ordering room service while watching Bridesmaids, which was exactly what I needed.

Rebecca at Reinventing Rebecca: Realizations and Camp Mighty

Camp Mighty made me think about what I want to do with this reinvention stuff, and mainly about how I want to frame it. When I talk to people about featuring their stories, they are intimidated by the word “reinvention.” They say, “Well, what I’m doing isn’t really that impressive” or “Maybe when I have met my goal, but it’s not reinvention, yet.” I realized that I need to find a better way of defining (or not defining?) reinvention. It is the mindset driving reinvention that I find most impressive, probably because it is such a new way of thinking for me.

Sarah at SAWK Photography: Albumus Morbus and A Mighty Post, in Theme and in Length

Did you ever pack a bunch of silver, chrome, and neon articles of clothing into a suitcase, then get in the car and drive 12 hours through the middle of a rocky desert only to descend upon a hot tub full of 100 people you have never met but are instantly friends with? – And then become astronauts and space cadets with this new posse, learn how to open a bottle of Champagne with a SWORD, and throw some serious punches while drinking punch made from the Champagne you opened with a sword? . . .You haven’t? . . . Oh. Well, then, may I suggest it? – Because that’s what I did last weekend, and it was awesome!

Susan at The Working Closet: The View from Camp Mighty and Go Do Stuff
I’m still processing my weekend at Camp Mighty; the short version is that it was amazing — relaxing and refreshing and super, super fun. I slept soundly and ate well and hugged some of my favorite peeps. And I feel like my brain and my soul were stretched in about 40 different directions, which is also a good thing.

Maggie at Mighty Girl: Camp Mighty in Your Words
Thanks, guys!

Next up from me on this… my top 10 favorite photos from Camp Mighty.

The Details

2 Responses to Camp Mighty.

  1. Pingback: Camp Mighty & A Thank You Letter

  2. Pingback: Life Lists: Having the Courage to Dream - In Pursuit of Happiness

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