You’ve heard the expression, “happy camper,” and if you’re like me, as a kid you’d live 10 months for the two that you got to go away to summer camp.
Recently I had the awesome opportunity to revisit my youth and the joys of taking a few days away from reality to enjoy a grown-up version of camp at a place called Campowerment.
The woman who founded Campowerment, Tammi Leader-Fuller, was like so many of us: a woman on a mission, on the fast track, and working hard to attain and maintain success.
After many years as a news producer and having made countless connections through her work to experts who were focused on helping women lead happier, healthier, more productive lives, Tammi made the jump five years ago to reinvent camp for grown women.
Her mission works miracles, and it brought me back 36 years to a place I thought was relegated to my memory.
At Campowerment, I reconnected with my authentic self.
My six-year-old self.
At the camp I went to as a kid, we said prayers before meals reminding us to be grateful for the beautiful nature surrounding us, the time spent with friends, the food we were eating and the water we were drinking. Back then we didn’t call it mindfulness, but the truth was it was how I learned about the importance of being present – no matter how mundane that moment may be. Campowerment carried on that wise, spiritual camp tradition of conscious appreciation for our bodies, our surroundings, our blessings, and our community by offering classes in meditation, yoga, and breath work.
My summer camp had no real electronics, TV or radio – we made our own music and entertainment and played old-fashioned records. Out on the hilltop overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Campowerment, there really wasn’t Wifi or cell service. For the first time in ages, I really had to check out and disconnect.
We played games, where teamwork and cooperation were key to “winning.” We sat in big circles, enjoying thought-provoking speakers, singing songs, and even doing some arts and crafts. (The grown-up version includes making vision boards and projects that support self-expression, growth, and development.)
All of this reminded me that we are social beings who thrive in community and groups, and that women in particular learn best in experiential settings.
The messages shared by leaders with us campers resonated deeply with me as well. Passionate speakers and session guides reminded us to accept ourselves, faults and all. We were urged to focus on our strengths and let go of trying to ‘fix” our weaknesses. We were reminded we are not broken; we are human.
As I drank in the sweetness of camp, I was struck by how being a “happy camper” – both as a child and also lucky for me, again as an adult – has truly shaped my approach to gynecological, and specifically fertility, medicine.
As a doctor, I am a teacher and a healer. For many who come to see me, the journey they are on to become mothers can be difficult and complicated. Others grapple with health issues and unforeseen illnesses. I counsel women day in and day out to slow down and connect with their inner selves. To accept their bodies as they are, and do what they can to bring themselves to optimal health through healthy diet and exercise. To take time to be and not just to do. To breathe deeply and go outside and enjoy nature. To surround themselves with supportive bunkmates (spouse or partner, other children and other family members) and counselors who can cheer them on and help them when life gets difficult. And it is always my advice to patients that they remember to live fully even when times are tough – for example, on the journey to fertility.
It is so appropriate that I discovered Campowerment, which is an incredible tribe of women bonded together through a love of all that camp is and represents, at the same time I’ve begun to introduce activities and classes to help support another important tribe of women: my patients. In our office, rather than just sit and wait for the doctor, we have exercise equipment available for you to hop on and move your body, coloring books to relax you and meditation podcasts we recommend you listen to. Our center has also started offering meditation classes and in the New Year, we will also add a variety of classes: cooking, yoga, nutrition, and self-relaxation. We hope to have drum circles and breath work groups, too.
Like camp, my goal is to create a community of women supporting each other and with access to all the necessary resources – physical, emotional, and spiritual – to be real-world happy campers.
Want to find out s’more?
To learn more about our classes, click here.
If you would like more information or to discuss you health, please contact Dr. Tina Koopersmith.