Ruby was 15 when she joined us at camp in 2019. She was all sorts of curious and content, bold and creative. She showed up with a heavy heart and curious mind. And we all fell in love with her magic pretty instantly. Below is her experience from camp in her words. It is the story of Ruby rising.
What I loved about camp — Ruby, 15
I first heard about Girl In The Wild from a dear friend, the mother of another of my dear friends, who had discovered the camp online and thought it would fit my wild-child demeanor.
She was right, of course.
I have always been someone who thrives in wild and rugged environments, someone who also really values being free-spirited over practically everything else. The idea of a camp focusing on self discovery and self-love and lifting up young women in the magnificence and glory of the mountains sounded too good to be true, and I signed up immediately, although I was almost positive I wouldn't get to go. And then, a few weeks later, Kim emailed!
I was utterly allured by the idea of being in the absolute middle of nowhere, on top of a secluded peak and surrounded on all sides by kilometers and kilometers of unexplored wilderness. To be in a place of such raw beauty of the likes I had never before experienced, with women I had never before met in my life- I could be whoever I wanted to be--myself,, and I could see and learn of a completely new landscape. What would I discover? So many prospects!
I had attended somewhat of a similar camp, only a few weeks before GITW! It was called Power of Hope, or PoH, and focused on similar aspects of healing and self discovery. It was massive in comparison, with 60 ish people, and was quite different in its approach. I loved both camps equally, I met beautiful people in each who I learnt from and formed lasting connections with. GITW is wonderful because I formed stronger connections with those involved, as there were FAR fewer of us. Also we went into the mountains!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We all pretty much hit it off straight from the start! Kim and Kiley and Marlaina blasted our hand-picked playlist from Black Betty's speakers, we all sang along and got to know one another over the loooong busride. We picked up Sky and Bobbi along the way and quickly got to know them, and every so often we would all switch seats with one another to get to speak with different people. I was mortified that the busride would be awkward, but by the time we got to the first campsite, it felt as though we'd all known one another for more than the single day of driving. The atmosphere buzzed with excitement and possibility and maybe a little bit of nerves, and also a little bit of road-exhaustion after the first five or so hours of driving(heh). It was a great start to a spectacular week and a bit.
The whole camp was like an activity! It was an activity—we were always active, and even when we rested it was special and ritualistic, and it was all wonderful. We rode up to the mountain in a huge black bus, blasting tunes and getting to know one another. After driving up a pot-holey, windy mountain road with much apprehension and excitement, we piled out of the bus and into a helicopter, which flew us and our gear up and away to a picturesque mountain lodge, where it nestled between unbelievably gorgeous peaks and wildflowers and streams. Every morning we woke before the sun rose above the jagged crests around us and trudged our way single-file up the narrow path that led to the meditation pad. Despite our grumbles at being woken up so early, it was always worth it to practice yoga while watching the fae-like truffula-tree flowers (pasque-flowers) glow as the sun caressed them with new light. We hiked to an alpine lake, it's fridged, teal waters an oasis after hours of hiking up and down mountain slopes. The hike was exhilarating, the breathtaking scenery and spectacular ecosystems we passed through were unlike any I had encountered before.
We shared some deep stuff with one another, and listened in deep respect as in turn we all shared some burden with the other ten women in the group.
In some ways we became a single unit, a single being, despite all possessing unique and individual souls.
It was quite incredible. I don't believe any of the experience can really be separated into different activities, as it was really all part of the same big one.
I loved the people. I love them. And I miss them. They are part of my favorite bit of camp. I love the mountains. I want to go back. Sometimes I dream that I'm back in the alpine meadow among the wildflowers, and I hope that I can go back someday. I love the ecosystems and the blazing hot sun, the desolate boulderfield and the sparse and hardy shrubs. I loved the journey there and back, the peculiar BnB we stayed in and the laughs we all shared. Oh the laughs and the cries, the emotions.
If you're curious about Girl In The Wild, I would say: Sign. Up.
This camp will change your life. I can't really say much other than that, as each will have their own experience. But these women who run the camp—they are so full of love and respect and excitement. I would tell this person, this future lion, to let these women teach them, and to not be afraid to teach the women in turn. Learn from one another. Be open. Learn from the mountains.
I came away from Girl in the Wild with new sisters, new love, new exciting prospects. I came away with a love for the mountains, and with the realization that I still have dreams. I came away with bright thoughts of the future and with a sudden and new groundedness. Also with a lot of new stuff, heh. But that new stuff wasn't the important bit.
To the people who look in the mirror and feel unhappy in some way, to those who feel uncomfortable in their own skin, to those who think they're not good enough, too this, too that, not (this) enough, not (that) enough. It's okay. Not being okay is okay sometimes. Let yourself be not okay, let yourself cry and be vulnerable. It's okay and it's natural. Remember that you've got the whole rest of your life to be okay, and to sometimes be not okay, and it's not always going to be easy, and that's life.
You are beautiful. Your flaws are beautiful. You can't make self-loathing disappear all at once, or over a few days. It takes time. A lot of time. And you can do it.