Tuesday, May 29

Brave Girls' Camp, May 2012

A couple of weeks ago, I had one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I went to McCall, Idaho and spent 4 ½ days in a lodge with 30 women, making art, talking about life, and becoming brave. I went to Brave Girl’s Camp, a women’s art retreat, put on by Brave Girl’s Club, a company founded by Melody Ross and Kathy Wilkins. It was an astounding experience! Here’s how it went.

I flew from San Jose to Boise, with a layover in Salt Lake City, leaving home at 6 am and arriving in Boise around lunchtime. My fabulos friend Mel and her husband met me at the airport took me to Eagle Idaho where we were to meet our bus in the evening.

After a lovely lunch at a little café called JoeMomma’s (not kidding), we headed down the street to a reception at Fair Trade Exchange, a wonderful shop owned by Jeanette Priddy and her husband, who also own the town coffee house “Rembrandt’s” which is located in an old church. I had a photo of the coffee shop, but Blogger isn't liking it, sorry! (it keeps rotating it, so you'd have to turn your head to see!)

Wonderful people, with a wonderful mission to empower women all over the world. They offer handmade items from purses to jewelry to baskets, made by women in underdeveloped countries like Uganda, Tibet, and more. Their store is filled with so many beautiful items. It was a delight to visit, and the treats they brought over from their coffee shop were SO good too!

Soon it was time to head back to the Hilton Garden, where we were met by Brock Ross, Melody’s son, who gave us each a bag full of Brave Girl Club goodness. Amazing generosity and gifts. Sorry, can’t share exact stuff, you have to go to find out, but it’s oh, so, wonderful! Heck, we even had treats for the trip!The drive to McCall is about 2 hours. It goes by really quickly, because the scenery is amazing. The road follows the Payette River, which was running super fast and was just stunning.

When we left the river behind, we saw miles of farmhouses, barns, and just plain beautiful country. I was surprised at how good the lighting was.

Golden hour seemed to last more than an hour in Idaho! In talking to a really nice local on the plane ride home I learned that this is because Idaho is so close to the time zone line. If you go just a bit farther north from McCall, you end up in Pacific time!

As we drove up to the lodge, it was a mass of wonderful women, loving each other, hugging and greeting. Again, no details, you have to experience it. The lodge is beyond description. It is lovingly decorated so that no matter where you look, you see something interesting or meaningful. I am not including too many photos from here on, because I want YOU to experience Brave Girls' Camp and I want YOU to get the wonderful and amazing surprises that I got when I arrived!

Since it was dinner time, the tables were already set, candles were lit, and we were treated to the first of many spectacular meals. Kathy Wilkins and her team put together mouthwatering meal after meal. Apparently, they get together ahead of camp and prepare tons of food that they then freeze and bring to camp. Brilliance, because it means that Kathy is free to do other things at camp, like cooking OTHER amazing side dishes. (Oh, the stuffed bread on the first night, holy cow!)

After dinner, we all gathered in the living room to talk and get to know each other a bit more. Shortly after, we were assigned to our rooms, and our “room Moms” showed us where our rooms were. It was lovely, and we were all treated so gently and wonderfully. We were pretty much all exhausted after traveling all day, so bedtime came none too soon!

The next three days are a blur of significant chats, creating art, walks through the neighborhood and to the nearby lake, and just being. The love shared at Brave Girl’s Camp is beyond anything I have ever experienced. I have had some significant experiences at women’s Christian retreats in the past, but this, this is what it’s all about. Wow. Women mentoring other women. Openly and with great joy, sharing the ups and downs of life events. Really. It was amazing. I’m trying to keep detail out, because you really have to experience it to believe it. Trust me.

I will include a significant little mixed media painting that I did.
I spent a lot of time in the amazing art room, which was filled with any and everything you could conceive of  to create with. It was amazing! Here's me, working hard.
I really don't think I've ever smiled as much or so genuinely as I did at camp. I felt safe, loved, and oh so pampered.

Saturday came all too soon and we had to realign with the real world. Trust me, I was NOT ready to pack my bag back up and get back on the bus! I could have stayed for at least another week! The ride back from McCall was completely different from the ride TO camp. The bus was filled with joyful, chatting women, discussing everything from the weather, to family, to what it was going to be like outside the lovely cocoon created by Melody, Kathy, and the staff at Brave Girl’s Camp.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! I am told that each camp is different. I will tell you that I believe this. I believe that what happens in the lodge in McCall is nothing short of miraculous. It’s magical and, for each camper, it’s a different experience. You get what you need, and it happens in a kind, gentle way that leaves you knowing you are loved and worthy and enough. Could it get any better than that?

Coming home has been interesting. Fortunately, my husband is a gentle man who saw immediately that I was different and decided to nurture and treasure that difference. He’s made my return to reality as gentle as possible, while still helping me meet my obligations. I’ve come to understand just what a gem he is by how he’s handled me this week. I’m different, really, I am. I’m softer, less stressed, and to be honest, I’m thrilled with me. Each day I get yet another affirmation that I’m on the right track, living the live I was meant to live. I’m continuing to learn to dream big, and, like a sunflower, I’m keeping my face toward the sun, in the light, and continuing to grow. Life. Is. Good. Thank you Melody, Kathy, and all the staff at Brave Girl’s. If you want information on Brave Girl’s Club or Camp, visit www.bravegirlsclub.com. They’ll have the bus waiting to take you on the trip of a lifetime.