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What I Learned at CAMP {#TxSC15}

I don’t think anyone would describe me as “adventurous”, yet I seem to willingly put myself in situations that require me to travel to places I’ve never been, to meet people I’ve never met with some regularity.

My latest adventure? CAMP.

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Last weekend I drove three and a half hours to Camp Texlake, which is a Girl Scout Camp just outside of Austin, for a blog conference called Texas Style Council. I had no idea where I was going and the rain, dear God THE RAIN, was blinding at times. But the downpours eventually subsided and Google Maps and I found our way.

I know I said it was a “blog conference” but I really don’t think that’s accurate. It was for women who are bloggers and/or small business owners, and so it was similar to a blog conference in that way. But I’ve been to “blog conferences”. CAMP was nothing like those.

CAMP was actually an acronym for our weekend: Create A Meaningful Presence. I wasn’t planning to go to any conferences this year, but when I came across Texas Style Council I just felt like I needed to be there. The emphasis was on connections and sharing and friendships. What better setting for that than a literal Girl Scout Camp, right?

The founder and director of TxSC, Indiana, read through everyone’s blogs (200+) to get to know us all a bit better. I think that’s why I was assigned to a bunk with the most awesome roommates; Sam, Bobbie, Toni, and I got along so well that the last night we couldn’t STOP talking to each other, even though we’d signed up for a “sleeper” cabin instead of a “talker” cabin. (Though Toni’s eyelids became too heavy to fight eventually.)

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My lovely roommates – and our attempt at humor. (photo credit Logan Pearce Photography)

This gathering attracted more creative types than other events I’ve been to, so the plentitude of craft activities over the weekend was a perfect fit. Friday was the best mingling event I’ve attended. I decorated a backpack with TOMS, made a bracelet with Minnetonka, and — BEST OF ALL — met Jenny Lawson.

I really should just stop my post now. Really, how do you top meeting someone you admire so much?

I feel like some of you non-bloggers may be saying, “Jenny Lawson… I know that name. Why do I know that name?” Jenny Lawson is The Bloggess and best-selling author of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. I’m not saying I stalk her, but I am saying I also saw her at BlogHer last summer.

Also I did literally stalk her on Friday night. Her husband (yes, THE Victor) caught me freaking out over the idea of meeting her, which actually made me even more self conscious.

I just need to interrupt myself to say something here. Isn’t it weird just, like, meeting people? Like, “Oh hi, I’m Candy and I think you’re awesome and that’s really all I have to say,” and then it just gets awkward? I’m not alone on this, right? So I pretty much never stand in line to meet “famous people” because it’s just weird. Who cares if I said Hi to Arianna Huffington once? (I didn’t by the way. I didn’t want to stand in line to meet her because I thought it’d be WEIRD.)

But really this was not that. This was different because it was a small event and I could actually talk talk to Jenny. Not exactly the “Oh-hi-I-think-you’re-cool-bye” thing. But kind of. I was overwhelmed at the thought of talking to Jenny because I love the way she tells stories and her sense of humor and I really identified with parts of her book. You know when you feel so different than everyone but then you find someone to whom you can say, “Me too!”? That’s how I feel about Jenny Lawson. And I don’t feel that way about many people.

So now this is a post about Jenny Lawson and not CAMP. Dammit, Jenny! You have your own blog! Don’t hijack mine!

Really though, she was so approachable and kind and encouraging. I just… yeah. I didn’t ask for a picture with her. I just thought it would be weird. I mean, I don’t like pictures of myself. Why subject someone else to that? And do I need a picture to prove we met? Hm. Maybe. Oh well.

But hey, remember way earlier in this post before it was hijacked (thanks, Jenny) when I mentioned creative types at CAMP? This was another reason it was successful. I met SO MANY super cool people. Every person I met I would want to talk to again. (And if you have been to a lot of these blogger-type events, you know that’s not always the case.)

Now before you get too excited, I must tell you that this was the final Texas Style Council. I am so sad to type that because this was a special event. Indiana Adams and her team gave us such a thoughtful and intentional experience, I truly wish I could go to CAMP every year.

To close CAMP, Indiana had us do an exercise that was simple in premise, but profound in execution. We broke up into several small groups and in each group we made two lines, facing each other. We each took turns walking down the aisle we’d created. As we walked, the women we walked by whispered affirming words of their choosing to us: beautiful, strong, inspiring, friend, etc. We shielded our eyes as we walked, so we could see just enough to make it to the end of the row.

It was powerful. I learned that I often don’t use kind words about myself to myself. As a mother of two girls, this is important information for me to have.

When I reached the end of my walk down my aisle of new friends, I couldn’t hold back the tears. I was right: I DID need to be at CAMP.

I connected with many new friends – more than I can list here. I am truly thankful to my new friend Indiana and her crew for giving us such an amazing experience. And grateful I listened to the little voice in my head that told me to go.

Maybe I am more adventurous than I think I am?

14 thoughts on “What I Learned at CAMP {#TxSC15}”

  1. Awesome recap, Candy! Love how it transported me back to CAMP for awhile. I’m so blessed to have met you; thank you, for being so cool.

    1. Thanks, Toni! Just think – without TxSC we’d never have met. Glad you decided to go! Especially since you are my bday twin and all. 😉

  2. Thanks for sharing, Candy. Yes, I’m happy you had such a wonderful time! However–the most profoundly moving part of your post was at the end. You told about sharing affirming words. That was amazingly meaningful to me.

    It reminds me of a mom’s bible study I was part of, about 15 years ago. We had a special speaker, and she had us do similar things. The capper was when we all agreed on one mom who we thought was special. (Not that we all weren’t special in our own ways, but . . . ) This mom grew up in that church, went to the mission field, married a man there, and came back to the church in Illinois. Her husband was attending school. So, she was, indeed, a special, giving, nurturing person!

    She laid down on some butcher block paper. Someone drew a basic silhouette of our friend. And then–this was when the fun started! Our friend left the room. All of us other moms wrote affirmations in marker on the silhouette! We put down genuine attributes about her, and everyone got really excited as we wrote more and more! Then, she came back in the room.

    As she looked at the silhouette with kind, affirming thoughts and attributes written all over, she was overcome with deep emotion. She thanked us all, and there was a group hug! And we all thanked the special speaker. Marvelous! And, so worthwhile. @chaplaineliza

    1. Words matter. I think we know that but still we forget that using them can be such a simple and powerful way to impact our friends and ourselves. Great story, Elizabeth!

  3. Great recapt, Candy! I so enjoyed meeting you and dorking out at the Jamboree: I still scroll through my photos from the weekend and laugh as though I’ve never seen them before. Us Texas bloggers need to keep this going in some form or fashion: meetups in Houston/Dallas/Austin or something! Can’t wait to keep up with your adventures… ohh! And that blog I was telling you about is http://www.foodgoodlaundrybad.com. Her name is Evin, she’s hilarious and I think you’d dig each other’s blogs! Hugs from Austin!

    1. Hey Liz! Thanks! I’m so glad we got hang out. We weirdos need to stick together, you know. We definitely need to figure out how to keep some Texas-based thing going. TxSC was so great! Thanks for the link – I will check her out.

  4. Candy,

    I LOVE your recap! I knew that you and Toni did one, but I didn’t want to read them until I did mine… so I wouldn’t be too closely inspired! I’m so glad that we were roomies and that you ACTUALLY said hello to Jenny Lawson!! LOL!

    1. Thanks, Sam! I’m so glad you were there with me in my freak out. I will always remember that. <3

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