This time last week I had just returned home from beautiful Punta Mita, Mexico where I attended Camp Conscious, a health and wellness retreat for three-ish days. And what a magical few days it was.
I first discovered Camp Conscious on Instagram last year when I saw some fitness influencers whom I followed and admired attended what was obviously an influencer trip but looked to be focused on health and wellness. I was immediately intrigued and started following Camp Conscious as a result.
After their first couple of trips, they made the BIG announcement that they would be opening up their retreat to applicants who wished to attend. WHAT?!
While I have high hopes of some day reaching influencer status where I'm whisked away on incredible trips around the globe, I know I'm not yet at that level but felt like this could be the perfect opportunity to get a taste of that life. More importantly it wasn't going to be just any "influencer trip." It was going to be a trip surrounded by like-minded, "micro-influencers," who had paid their own hard-earned money to experience this incredible curated week of health and wellness panels, workouts, and more. Sign me up!
In full transparency, the first time I applied to Camp Conscious I didn't get it. I was really bummed when they started posting about the retreat and with the date getting closer and closer with each passing minute and no congratulatory email in my inbox, I knew I didn't make the cut. It just wasn't meant to be. Maybe I was even more of a "micro" (emphasis on the micro) influencer than I thought.
The second go around I figured why not give it another shot and I submitted my application. It's always funny when you do things like that and suddenly it seems like time stands still. You submit your application and then the minutes just inch by and you think "man when am I going to hear back from them about that application I submitted" and before you know it months have passed and you're receiving that congratulatory email (or text message in this case).
I'll never forget, I was standing in a mall with my boyfriend's sister when I got this text message from a random number congratulating me on being invited to attend Camp Conscious February 2020. At the time it was November 2019 and February, let alone 2020, seemed ages away!
But time flew, as it always does, and while much happened in those few shorts months between the congratulatory text and hopping on the plane, I was finally going to Camp Conscious.
Never mind the fact that I felt ill-prepared purely based on my closet - like the fact that I don't own regular sandals outside of slides as I got rid of them all at the end of last season - I was transitioning to a new job and feeling like it was one of the worst possible times to jet off, check-out and retreat. But stressful as it may seem at the time, things always work out and believe it or not, the work is ALWAYS there when you get back.
To begin, let me say no I did not know a single person before attending Camp Conscious. Some women knew each other ahead of time but for the most part we were a bunch of solo artists looking to combine talent and form a super rad (super healthy) girl band.
The three full days we spent at Camp Conscious were filled with beautiful curated breakfasts including spreads and sponsored product you only dream of one day partaking in. You know, the kind that floods your Instagram story feeds as you sit back and idly watch the brunches bloggers attend left and right while the rest of us sit at our desk jobs and dream. "Ahhh, someday...Someday."
Well for three days I lived that life! And ate the most delicious, healthy, colorful, palette-satisfying food I've probably ever had over the course of a vacation. Food that didn't leave me crippled over in stomach pain. Huge props to our amazing and beautiful chef for the week whom you should all at the very least follow on Instagram because her stuff is out of this world.
In addition to incredible food, we had some fun workouts taught by the true influencers (and fitness instructors) during the trip. From Yoga to a boxing inspired choreographed workout we kept our bodies moving, and sweating in that Mexico heat.
We also had the opportunity to listen to a variety of women in the health and wellness space share their stories and offer advice to the community of women gathered there to gain insight and wisdom into building their own following and finding their purpose and passion.
And when we weren't doing one of the aforementioned activities we were laying out by the pool, drinking margaritas at sunset and doing what we do best, taking photos.
It was a jam-packed three days.
Camp Conscious is truly unlike anything I've ever done in my life and perhaps unlike anything I'll ever do again (although trust me I'd love to). While I could bore you with all the gory details of a group of 40 women spending 3 days together in a beautiful mansion in Punta Mita, Mexico - and no I wasn't filming the next season of The Bachelor, I promise - I wanted to summarize my experience with three main takeaways. I gave myself about a week to process everything and during that week I perfected my "how was your trip" speech and realized I was ready to translate it to a blog post.
I know what you're thinking, FINALLY Casey's posting about her experience...That was what you were thinking, right?!
Anyway, here goes nothing.
During Camp Conscious I learned...
To be open to new experiences and new things. This one was twofold. First of all new experiences represents Camp Conscious itself. Leading up to that week I was SO nervous, anxious, not at all excited and feeling like I had made a huge mistake. What was I doing?! I had paid all this money to gallivant in Mexico with a bunch of strangers! And not only strangers but a bunch of WOMEN who in my experience can be rather difficult to get along with in that kind of setting. Beyond being open to a seemingly terrifying experience like that, I learned to be open to new things in the health and wellness space. Yes I am very much into the health and wellness space and live in what seems to be the capital of all of that good stuff in Los Angeles, I am also a high-intensity girl who loves workouts that absolutely push me to my physical limits and don't really spend much time working through my feelings or spirituality. That being said, this week was not quite that. However, I went in with an open heart and mind and as a result learned quite a bit that I want to incorporate back into my own life and things I even want to learn more about.
Things don't work unless you do. I was honestly so impressed by the women I attended Camp Conscious with. The amount of them who have full time jobs like myself but also dedicate a significant amount of time to running their side hustle whether it be a blog or building their own chocolate company, girls are working! It made me realize that I really should spend more time growing my Instagram and blog and that I have no excuse not to be doing just that. If I want to have a following, build a community and attend the "influencer trips," (someday remember, someday!) then I need to put in the work to make it happen!
Lastly, be true to yourself. Truth be told, I struggle in large groups of women like this. And I struggled that week too. It's in my nature to take on more of an observer role in situations like that and to be honest a lot of it stems from me not trusting others quickly. I sit back, watch and learn about others before realizing who I connect with, who I can relate to, who I want to learn more about, etc. I am not one to fight for attention or the spotlight and realize it can sometimes make me feel like I'm going to be forgotten or passed by but I'm remaining true to who I am. No I didn't always feel included and trust me sometimes I felt downright disliked by people but despite all that, I created amazing memories and connected with some really incredible women that I've already made plans with in the near future. I remained true to what was authentic to Casey and made friends who connected with her, not some version of myself I was pretending to be.
That's just a snapshot of what I learned about myself (and others) during my incredible trip but overall I think the huge takeaway for me was to be comfortable getting uncomfortable.
The idea of going away to a foreign place with 40 strangers, 40 WOMEN at that is kind of intimidating and terrifying when you think of it. However, I took a chance and committed to doing something that I knew would be a challenge for me but one that I would benefit from and benefit I did.
We met as 40 strangers who shared common interests and goals in the health and wellness world. However, we walked away friends. Friends who will make plans to visit each other, run 5k's turned wine-tasting weekends together and attend future conferences together. Thank you Camp Conscious for giving me the trip of a lifetime and the friends to go along with it.
(Originally Published February 16, 2020)