I’m the kind of person who’s always on the move. Most days start with me running late to a meeting in heels and end with me rolling all over the house doing laundry, dinner and bathing my snakes at the same time. You can imagine that when I go on vacation, I look for some sort of escape that incorporates fun outdoor activities. Still, for years now, something has prevented me from pulling the trigger on a wellness retreat. With all of the promises of kumbaya vibes and endless amounts of yoga, the idea of a trip entirely dedicated to a zen sort of didn’t jive well with me. I’m just not one of those people to… what’s that word? – oh ‘relax’ while doing nothing.
I heard about the CamelBak Pursuit Series. The three-day program, which is a BYOT situation (that’s bring your own tent, for you noobs), is essentially 72 hours filled with every outdoor activity possible. Hiking, trail running, surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, mountain biking, kayaking, you name it! Plus, there are seminars on all things outdoors- including first aid, camp cooking, photography, and astronomy. It’s not that the froufrou retreats didn’t entice me a little, but as an avid business woman, the Pursuit Series felt true to my personality; it had that little extra adrenaline rush I was looking for.
Would it be everything I’d hoped for? Would my camping skills be just as outstanding as they were circa that 2001 family vacation? There was only one way to find out. Here are five major lessons I learned from my first wellness weekend.
1. You learn your new abilities:
The thing about spending 72 hours in the woods is that you’re not entirely sure what to expect. Still, I went into the whole thing with an open mind and was pleasantly surprised by what happened when I let my guard down.
As much as I wish I was the go-with-the-flow type, I like having a schedule and sticking to it. Luckily for me, we had a schedule for the weekend jam-packed with fun-tivities, but a lot of them were things outside of my norm. Trail running, something I’ve only dabbled in a few times, had me exhausted about four minutes into our first hill. Still, I felt proud every time I made it to a peak, even if I was cruising at a 20-minute pace. I couldn’t believe it when I was actually standing up on a stand-up paddleboard, and holy crap, rock climbing up the Albion Basin. Pushing outside of my comfort zone gave me an endorphin boost that lasted straight through late-night drinks.
2. Seriously, ‘All Natural’ happened:
Body wipes and dry shampoo are glorious things. Yes, there were showers available to the participants, but I ended up in the lake every evening right before dinnertime, which made me feel like I should embrace the whole “roughing it” thing in full force… And my hair never looked sexier.
3. No phone, No care:
I went into the weekend knowing that I wanted to put my phone down. Photos, sure. But Instagram? Facebook? Emails? See ya later alligators! Lucky for me, Snowbasin altitudes helped me stick to my mission. With extremely limited service, I was able to leave my phone behind most of the time and focus on what was happening around me and in front of me. Disconnecting made me hyperaware of how much I’m actually on my phone on the regular. It also made me aware of how much time both me and my fiancé typically spend on our phones when we’re together. It made me sick so I made an effort to really take advantage of the time together. Listen more intently. Engage with people, even if we’d just met. Ask more questions. Overall, a more active approach to embracing my environment encouraged me to disconnect more often. In the few days since the wellness weekend, I’ve made an effort to keep my phone stashed away.
4. There is nothing better than wearing what you really want:
Confession: being a Marketing Director I have to look professional everywhere I go – and I hate it. You always want to look like you’ve got it together when you’re encouraging people to reach their personal bests. In the woods though, it’s a whole other ballgame. I essentially wore the same Kuhl shorts and oversized tee the entire weekend without regrets (I have the tee’s odor-resistant tech to thank). I also have the chill vibes of being outdoors to be grateful for. The whole weekend was about being comfortable in your own skin and celebrating what you’re capable of. For me, it was a nice reminder that I didn’t have to worry about wardrobe malfunctions.
5. Hanging with like-minded people doesn’t get any better:
I’ve been on my fair share of vacations where the people around me are, in a word, trash. I remember one trip to Puerto Rico where my fiancé and I would run into obnoxiously annoying drunks. The magic about wellness retreats is that everyone around you has a shared interest in being outdoors. Instantly, whether you’re biking in the woods or tackling your first climb, you have something in common. The ice is broken- smiles are constant. That feeling of community is one that you don’t get on a typical family vacation on the beach. That feeling of community is what I subconsciously crave when on vacation.
Bottom line: We had a great time, made great friends, and sweat a lot. Can you even put a price on making epic memories? Ok, maybe. But rest assured, you’re going to love this. And then they even throw in all of your meals, coffee, alcohol, music, and a welcome bag filled with $300+ worth of products (that you’ll actually use)… last I checked no one makes your vacation easier than these guys.