1. The Tunnel of Sisterhood. Having decided to throw any sort of linear understanding of the conference out the window for this recap, I want to start with the last official CAMP activity. After moderating the final keynote on Sunday and watching my new friends receive well-deserved awards, everyone was led outside and put into two parallel lines. As we stood toe-to-toe, a camper walked between us with her eyes closed and we each whispered a word in her ear. “Strong.” “Brave.” “Thoughtful.” “Vibrant.” “Worth it.” Camper after camper walked through the tunnel of Sisterhood hearing faceless voices reaffirm everything that was felt throughout the weekend. This was one of the most remarkably powerful experiences of my life and I know I’ll never forget the way it made me feel. Let’s just say I’ve only cried this hard a couple of other times in my life. It was intense, y’all.
2. The Anxiety. Now that I’ve given you a taste of the end, let’s go back to the beginning. I arrived at CAMP on Wednesday evening to find the other staff members distributing bedding into giant yellow bins. Something you may not know about throwing a conference at a Girl Scout camp is that there’s no maid service to do things like make your bed, take out your trash, etc. Someone has to do that for you, and that someone was our staff + volunteer team. As the volunteer coordinator, I delegated tasks to my AMAZING (seriously, y’all) team from bed duty and moving cafeteria tables to fixing microphones and tracking down lost backpacks. We were all bruised and bloody, not to mention muddy from doing all of this in the pouring rain. Being a leader is something I identify as in the online space, but I know that I sometimes struggle in leadership roles in a more direct sense. Having over 20 people depending on you to know the right answer all the time was causing my anxiety to go haywire, and I was having a hard time handling it. I was trying to nurse panic attack after panic attack while trying to stay strong for my team. Finding that balance between caring for me and sacrificing my needs for my team was a good, though challenging, lesson to learn.
3. The Women. At most blogging conferences, there’s the big dogs and the little fish. The speakers , especially the keynotes, are often seen as untouchable celebrities who you’re lucky to share air with. At TxSC, the playing field is intentionally more even. I sat at meals with big bloggers I’ve followed for years alongside other women I may not have heard of but was just as lucky to meet. Everyone was there to learn and connect in a real way, without the computer screen or even a façade to hide behind. Whether it was our stats, our fears of negative comments, or out doubts about moving forward, we were all there to be open and honest with each other, to find connections, and to be less alone. I met some of the most incredibly brilliant and brave individuals, and I am humbled to have experienced their beauty.
4. The Wisdom. A word I heard a lot this weekend, coined by Bethany Joy Clark, was “friendtor.” A friendtor is someone who is your equal, your friend, while also being someone you can go to for guidance. One of the missions behind TxSC ’15 was to provide an opportunity for women to find their friendtors. With so many smart entrepreneurs and business women, truth bombs and advice nuggets were constantly being shared. A few of my favorites:
“Don’t poison your own well.” – Caroline Rector
5. The Sisterhood. Having a whole weekend spent with like-minded, driven, inspiring women is just about the best thing I can imagine. This was my version of a worship retreat and I am feeling wholly renewed and reinvigorated. These women came from all over the world (yes, the world! Not just the US!). Some are moms and some aren’t. Some blog for a living and some have day jobs and write posts when they can. All of us are trying to figure it all out. All of us benefit from having a sister who supports her. During my keynote with Sophia Rossi, founder of HelloGiggles (which, AHHHHHHH yeah that’s a thing that happened!!!!!!!!!!!), I asked what her definition of Sisterhood is. She said it’s about loyalty, about being ride or die for someone you love. This is a great answer and one that definitely resonates with me. I was thinking more about it after our talk, though, and I realized that Sisterhood is deeper than that for me. Sisterhood extends past the women I know and love. I work to support all women because that connection is tremendously important to me. This weekend was about remembering (and discovering!) that we aren’t alone. We have our sisters, both on and offline. That is so sacred to me and the time we spent at Camp Texlake over the weekend will always be in my heart.
There is so much that I didn’t cover in this post, but I’m still processing everything and I’ve also been writing this for too many episodes of television (am I the only one who counts time this way?), so I figure I should wrap it up. I’ll probably write more about the whole shebang later, but there are also so many good recaps going up. Follow the #TxSC15 tag on Twitter to see what other campers had to say!