WE DID IT! We co-hosted the beautiful, amazing, inspiring Let's Camp retreat! Look at this group! We filled the weekend up with lots of eating, drinking, workshopping and enjoying nature and it having these women there to bring it all to life made all my retreat dreams come true.
I probably knew half of the women before they came so there was an unknown factor there with dynamics. But lordy lordy - everyone just jumped in and cozied up to one another and it was so incredibly lovely.
How to plan a retreat
If you missed it, I shared my thoughts on planning a retreat here - and I actually wouldn't change much, logistically. (So go there if you're wanting more technical help.) However, there are a couple of things I would handle differently:
Staff - Mandy and I staffed five friends, and we had 42 women join us at Camp Wandawega. In the future, we'd probably have 2-3 friends helping us behind the scenes, along with a few paid staff members. Our friends were incredible and so amazingly helpful... but it was a lot of work. The constant set up and taking down of meals alone deserves dedicated, paid workers.
- Food - For two of the five meals, we hired a chef — that was so nice. Mari of River City Eatery saved us. Having said that, it was still a ton of work. We kept the meals as hassle-free as possible, but between all of the food allergies and dietary preferences, it was impossible to please everyone. In the future, we're looking into either hiring a catering company to do everything, or not offering food at all (and having people supply their own). TBD.
Last minute fires (not actual campfires) - There were a lot of women who had things come up last minute — hard pregnancies, broken toes(!), and other personal issues. This made for some holes in our itinerary. Thankfully, we built some flexibility into our weekend schedule, so it all worked out and nothing was a major issue. I can't imagine crafting an entire weekend around a keynote speaker – if people were to come specifically for that speaker and then they canceled last minute - oh my gosh - gives me the goosebumps just thinking about it!
- Sensitivity - I'm a people pleaser. So it was hard for me when people were frustrated by their rooming situation, or they wanted different food or a different ticket type, etc. Sometimes you just have to say "no" or "I'm sorry" and leave it at that. (P.S. This was hard for me to even type!)
What was so rewarding!
Sharing of feelings - The last night, we asked for anyone who wanted to to stand up and share their thoughts and feelings. And it was so so good. The prompt was "what I know to be true." People shared truths like "listen to your gut" and "you'll never feel like you made it." One woman shared how she felt too old to be there, but then she met so many people she loved and wanted to be a mom to everyone. When she was walking back to her seat, all of the women started chanting "Mom! Mom! Mom!" It filled me with the purest joy.
- Being outside - Nature is so powerful. One night I looked up at the stars (which you never get to see in the city) and was just in awe. It really helped set the tone for a peaceful, relaxing weekend.
Love and connections - Seeing the women chatting and getting to know each other was simply the best. The group was amazing and chill and brought all of the good vibes that were such a priority for me.
And now for my amazing co-host Mandy of The Glossary!
N: Congrats, friend! Overall, what did you think?
M: Woo! We did it. It happened. That feels like such an accomplishment to me, especially after all of the planning. The afternoon the event ended and I got home, I felt strange not having to think about it. I think it went really well though. Seeing something go from an idea on a spreadsheet to real life is a really rewarding treat.
N: What did you love the most?
M: The people. I thought we had such a special group of ladies with us for the weekend! Everyone had something important and unique to bring to the table, and watching friendships form at an event we put on was something really beautiful to see.
N: What would you have done differently?
M: Probably food. I really did love all of the food that we provided, but it really was such a headache to do the prep and clean up. I would have enjoyed being able to enjoy the weekend a little bit more. That was the major challenge, in my opinion.
N: On a scale from 1-10, would you want to do it again?
M: 5 if we did our own food again, but 10 if we had a different structure for that part of the weekend.
N: Anything else you would want to add?
M: I'm reiterating what I said earlier, but it's just REALLY cool to see something you plan from conception to reality enjoyed by a group of people. I'm thankful to everyone who shared that experience with us.
Photos by the incredible Anna Zajac
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