How do I summarize Camp Mighty? It's likely impossible to fully communicate what a moving and epic weekend this was for me and also for many others, but I'll try.
1. The ACE Hotel in Palm Springs is super cool. You will be seeing lots of pictures of attendees in front of the ACE sign you see up above. The food, staff, different spaces around the hotel and details in the rooms were amazing. It was a combination of camping, motels and mid-century modern all wrapped up into a very cozy package.
2. It's mega uncomfortable to be faced with meeting new people, especially people you admire, but sometimes they are so gracious and warm and welcoming that it makes all of the nervous energy and bathroom trips so totally worth it. (Alice? I am looking at you.)
3. It does actually rain in Palm Springs. I was there when it happened. BUT! If you spend four hours in the hot tub drinking champagne punch you will hardly notice.
4. Maggie and Laura are a force to be reckoned with. How they do these events without exploding into a million pieces is beyond me. I loved them both even more in person and I hope they liked me, because they haven't seen the last of my eager face. Oh no. I'm like a Mighty Head now, or something. Look out.
5. My friend Jill is a rock star. I could not have done this trip without her. Driving around in a red Mustang with her was so much fun! Seriously. Everyone should get a cool car to drive around in once in their lives. She made that happen, along with many other things, like helping me take the picture in front of the ACE sign. Whatever she couldn't make happen, I dragged her into. We are a good team like that. I also learned more about her in our four days together than I thought possible. Without the distraction of the combined five children that our daily life entails, we talked more deeply than ever. I also hugged her without any pants on.
6. I totally won at Camp Mighty. There was a contest in which we were supposed to paint our hands with a message for Ronald McDonald House Charities. If 100 people from our group painted our hands and tweeted it, we would win $5000 for the Palm Springs RMHC. Then, they would pick a winner out of those 100 and donate $5000 to that person's home town RMHC. Basically all of us painted our hands and we totally won the Palm Springs RMHC donation. As for the home town prize? It went to me. ME!!! I am still stunned as I write this. It's amazing and I feel so honored. I don't think I've won anything ever in my life. I have to check about all the details but I think my "home town" location is going to be New York City. I have finally arrived.
7. Of course we also raised money for Charity Water. The total amount raised by everyone who participated in Camp Mighty (including the Ace Hotel!) was over $25,000. That's an astounding amount of money!! So we reached our goal and funded a third of the cost of a drilling rig for Ethiopia. The SUPER cool thing was that we raised enough money for 1,111 people to get clean water by 11:11am on 11/11/11. Man, when numbers line up like that, you just know great things will happen. Epic things.
8. I have, like, 40 new friends. What? I just couldn't help it. The women and men* who attended this event were all so wonderful and interesting that I came straight home and added them all on Facebook, and they ACCEPTED! There were so many interesting stories. Some were immediate connections. Amber is my new photo geek buddy and we are going to shrink and clone Anna so she can live in our pockets. Other relationships will hopefully develop more over time and through the internet, but we got a head start with face-to-face interactions and shared experiences. Everyone was so nice, generous and supportive it was really incredible. Most egos were checked at the door and I'm pretty sure everyone who had a vulnerable moment got a lift up from someone.
9. Speaking of vulnerability, I totally cried during our life listing lunch. It completely surprised me. Not everyone did, but I found for me that it was surrounding something I really wanted and really needed. Now I just need to make it happen. CJB? I am warning you right now that we are going to a spa somewhere for the weekend. Just you and me. We need it. Iceland, or Japan? You pick. Might as well hit two life list items at once. Am I right?
10. My husband. I am so lucky. He's been so supportive of me venturing off, away from him and the kids, to do this. He's the most awesome of everyone and you guys? He totally rocked being a single parent for like FOUR DAYS all by himself. The kids were sick and they couldn't go down to my in-laws, so Chris took time off work and stayed home. I am in awe of his support for me and his willingness to be such a good Dad. Milo and Quinn love him more than ever. I fear I may not be the favored parent anymore, but you know what? That's ok with me. Chris deserves it and I'm proud of him for how great the weekend went while I was away.
* Yes, there were a few, very wonderful men there and most were with their wives. Awww.
So that's my Top Ten. I've got more coming, about what I learned and the themes from the weekend. This is really only the beginning.
⇒ TALES OF CAMP MIGHTY (Go here to read the RECAPS and SUMMARIES from all the other attendees!)