Camp GLP 2016 – Same on the outside, different on the inside.


A few weeks ago I went to Camp GLP – the “summer camp for adults” experience I’ve attended twice before, and written about here. It was in the same location and included many of the same activities and people as in previous years – and yet this time it felt different, both in the moment and afterwards.

As one of my favourite authors, Jon Kabat-Zinn, wrote, “Wherever you go, there you are.” Which, to me, means that in order to have a different experience in the same place, I must have been different.

Change – particularly soul-level personal change – sometimes happens in an instant, or so I’m told. In my case, though, it appears to have been happening very gradually. And while I’ve been doing lots of work on that level, I didn’t really feel the impact of that work until the camp weekend.

A quick inventory of how I spent my time:

Bonded with an extraordinary and incredibly diverse group of bunkmates – ranging in age from 20-something to 60-something and everything in between, from North and South in the U.S. plus a few Canadians for extra niceness (I may have seeded the group just a little…).

Blew bubbles. GIANT ones. Photo from last year (credit Greg Berg), but the bubbles this year were still epic.


Floated in the pool in an inflatable unicorn for a couple of hours one sunny afternoon. I have yet to be made aware of photographic evidence, so none may exist which means you’ll just have to trust me on that one.

Led Team Red (“The Red Hots”) in the traditional colour war games – most of which involved smack-talking the other teams and brandishing all manner of weaponry including water balloons, hula hoops and bean bags and demonstrating verging-on-manic team spirit and enthusiasm. (A quick shout-out to my co-captain, Charles Gupton, whose valiant efforts at choreographing us were mostly futile but who was a fantastic good sport about it all).

Meditated – with about a hundred other people – at 0600. Yes, that early. And while I’m a huge proponent of meditation, very few people could entice me out of a warm bunk when it’s still dark, but KC Carter is something special in that department, amongst others.

Did inspirational exercise – yes, it exists – led by my dear friend Emiliya. She introduced me to Intensati at camp the first year and I’m a huge fan.

Worked – if you can call it that. As a member of the Camp GLP Crew, I arrived early for set-up (400 hand-filled containers of dark-chocolate-covered almonds anyone? sorry, 397…) and did shifts on the Guest Services Desk and in the Camp Store throughout the weekend. Which really just meant having a great opportunity to meet and talk with lots of campers 1:1 in relatively quiet areas of the campground (and get first dibs on the Camp GLP gear).

Ate – great, healthy food.

Moved – walked, ran, danced, hula-hooped, clapped, rolled, hopped, swam – you name it.

But most of all – marvelled. Marvelled at the warmth and camaraderie and sense of community (shout out to Harmony, GLP’s Head of Community, who got the ball rolling ahead of the actual event) created by almost 400 people. Marvelled at the deep sharing that happened between new bunkmates on the first evening. Marvelled at the empathy and care shown from every camper to every other one as we all had our moments of discomfort and vulnerability over the weekend. Marvelled – once again – at the astonishing talent in the group as put forth in the truly epic talent show. And marvelled at the depth and breadth of wisdom, expertise, creativity, generosity and gutsiness in this amazing group of people.

So what made this all feel different this year?

As many of you know, I’ve had a bit of an extra challenging past few years, but with those challenges have come some clear invitations to examine myself and my work, choose how I want to be in the world and design whatever my next phase will be. I’m still a work in process, but it was fascinating to me how different I felt in this community this time around. More open, more curious, more empathetic, more patient. Softer yet stronger. Moved to both laughter and tears more readily. More ready for whatever is next. It seems that the accepting nature of the Camp GLP community felt like permission to shed whatever I’ve been hanging onto or shielding myself with, and let whatever’s percolating inside me come closer to the surface.

My good friend Charlie Gilkey asked me a great question on the first day of camp. He asked “what have you brought with you to camp that you’re willing to leave here?” I think I left my protective outer shell at Camp this year. It has served me well, but it has outlived its usefulness. Thank heavens.

I know that I’ve come home more connected to and committed to my work as a coach than ever before. I’ve been coaching now for 20 years (more on that in my next post) and I feel clearer about it than ever. Maybe not exactly as I have been doing it, but more deeply connected to the client work. A great feeling, for sure.

There’s more to come, no doubt, but one thing I know – the Camp GLP community has helped me more than I’d ever imagined when I first signed up for Jonathan Fields‘ immersion program in 2012.

It takes a unique person to decide to attend – and then find their way to experience – an event like Camp GLP. It requires the ability to play with child-like wonder and enthusiasm, yet the maturity to roll with less than 5-star accommodations, unpredictable weather and uninvited wildlife. It takes ownership of one’s own experience yet the willingness to collaborate to make it great for all. Most of all, it requires unequivocal, non-judgmental support for anyone and everyone who had the courage to step outside their own particular comfort zone, whether it was on stage, leading a workshop, or just sitting down to eat with total strangers.

I’ve benefited from that grace, that generosity, that acceptance and support. Maybe what was different this year was that, really for the first time, I felt equipped to reciprocate fully and, as Brene Brown would say, wholeheartedly. Felt great. See you next year, Camp GLP!


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There are 2 comments.

Kristoffer Carter

To answer Charlie’s question honestly… sadly it was my favorite flip-flops! I’ll be back for you both.

Love this recap. Love how we Third-Years’ don’t carry the jaded burden of “been there, done that”.

Best. Year. EverRrRrrr… should be the standard we pursue indefinitely. I attribute so much of the magic you mention above to Stephanie and her teams’ willingness to entertain every single bit of feedback in optimizing the experience. That, and experiencing the event through the eyes of the new peeps.

But if we take your example KW and go GETTEM again with a Beginner’s Heart… all doors are open. How could it not be a magical, transformative experience?

Love you. Love CAMP. -kc

Karen Wright —

None of it would make sense without a pink fluffy unicorn cavorting about. Thanks for all YOU do!! xo

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