Ten years ago I started APW as a personal wedding blog, and well, we all know the rest. It’s been a crazy and amazing ride. But a decade ago: before Instagram, Pinterest, emojis, and the constant flood of Facebook’s newsfeed, my goal was simple. I wanted to foster a community of smart, amazing, delightfully weird women, who I could reach even when I was stuck behind a desk at the world’s most corporate office job. And that community is still going strong, in what I’m proud to call one of the best comment sections on the internet.
But ten years later, I can’t get away from the feeling that we may have too much online community. We’re constantly bombarded with push notifications, DMs, Facebook comments, texts, and on most days our phones never stop buzzing. We have an endless array of ways to talk to people online… and sometimes it feels we have no ways to actually connect in real life. You know, the kind of connecting where you shove your phone in a bag, forget about it, and talk to someone for an hour. Our goal has always been about fostering community and connection for smart women, and in 2018, we decided that we needed to get out from behind our computers and do this thing. Together.
So today, we’re proud to announce the first-ever Compact Summer Camp. It will take place in an actual (non-glamping) summer camp in the Santa Cruz mountains outside San Francisco, over four days and three nights in August. We hinted a couple weeks back that while The Compact as we thought it would be is no more, it would be reborn as something different than we had originally envisioned. We’ve been kicking around an idea we’ve informally called “Feminist Summer Camp” for at least five years now, and this year, we decided the time had come. And we are so, so excited for what comes next.
Welcome to The Compact Camp
For three nights, we’ll step back from our endless obligations and our damn cell phones. We will be here right now. We will relax and learn from amazing teachers. We’ll also learn from each other while getting our Katniss on or sharing s’mores. We’ll dance it out. We’ll ask for what we want. But mostly, we’ll just be together.
This is not a conference. We’re not here to figure out what’s next in our careers or power network. This is not glamping (though we will make you feel taken care of). This is feminist summer camp. This is our chance to get a group of amazing women in one place, let down our guard, and just be here right now.
What: The Compact Summer Camp
Where: La Honda, CA
When: Thursday, August 16 to Sunday, August 19, 2018
How Much: $850 Early Bird, with a $300 deposit up front, and balance of payment due on July 1
What To Expect
The goal of this project is to create the kind of pure delight, joy, and friendships that happened so naturally when we were younger, but that can be so hard to come by as fully grown women managing well… everything. And we knew that to make this happen over the course of a few days, our goal was to create shared vulnerability and let down our guards.
As a result, we decided to pass on those super luxe glamping spots (we love them, but that’s not what this weekend is about). And instead, we settled on a good old-fashioned summer camp. We’ll share bunks with ten to twelve other women, in fully heated cabins. (And yes, we have bathrooms with outlets and space for your morning routine.) We’ll eat meals together in the camp dining room. The food isn’t San Francisco’s bougie best, but y’all… it’s really good (and that’s not just the fresh air speaking). We’ll have campfires. And an arts and crafts cabin. And moonlight zip-lining. And so much more. Which brings us to…
This is where things get really exciting. When we started to put together the idea of camp, we came up with a dream team of people we wanted there. Long time APW contributors. Our favorite speakers when we go to conferences. Hell, even our own business coach. Basically, our favorite people to have in a room. The ones that make our hearts swell. And y’all, so far every single one of them has said yes to coming to camp. Which means this lineup is legit. You can check out our full staff list so far (much more to come), but here are some of the people you’ll get to learn from/ hang out with/ make shit with:
Cyndie Spiegel, Coach: If you want to leave a room feeling like you can tackle literally anything, Cyndie is your girl. Maddie and I recently attended one of Cyndie’s talks at Alt Summit this year, and when we left we just looked at each other like, “DAMN SHE IS GOOD.” Cyndie’s specialty is helping you figure out what obstacles you’ve put in your own way and then giving you the tools to kick them to the curb. Frankly, we half invited her to camp so we could drink in that Brooklyn magic and then figure out how to make her our BFF.
Jay Pryor, Coach: You may have heard me make mention of my business coach here and there on APW. Well, this is that person! Jay is a super powerful coach and has helped several members of the APW staff work through their personal bullshit. (It’s like a superpower.) Jay was born female, then transitioned to male at thirty-five, and more recently is living as a gender-nonconforming person. That means that Jay really gets how the world is set up differently for women than men and is an actual pro at helping you figure out what to do with that.
Leah Tioxon, Magic: Leah has been hanging around the APW watering hole since before I can even remember—first as a wedding photographer and now as part of the extended APW family (her husband is our associate editor). But why we’re really excited to have Leah on board is because she’s made of magic. Like, actual magic. She has all the woo-woo skills you could ever hope for (Reiki, channeling, tarot), and she will be bringing all that plus more to camp. Also, she’s a mermaid.
And Me… and Maddie and the whole APW crew. We’ll also be bringing the APW staff, old school APW favorites (if you remember our interns, you’re going to be excited), plus plenty of other familiar faces to lead dance class, booty yoga (you heard me correctly), and lots more. Basically, if you come to camp and you’ve been hanging around APW for a while, you’re going to find yourself saying, “Don’t I know her?”
P.S. We’ve got a great lineup of speakers so far, but we’re still adding to it. So if you are interested in leading a workshop at camp, email us at team [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com with the subject “The Compact Workshop Leader.” Tell us what you want to teach and why you’re excited to come to camp.
The Compact Camp is all-inclusive
Here’s the deal: All you have to do is commit to come and get yourself to the Bay Area. We’ll take it from there. We will have airport shuttles from San Jose and San Francisco airports on the afternoon of Thursday the 16th, and again on Sunday the 19th. Get yourself to one of those (or if you’re local, feel free to drive yourself to camp), and the rest is on us.
We’ll arrive on Thursday night, have cabin bonding, eat dinner, and start things off with a ritual at the campfire (and then s’mores, obviously). On Friday and Saturday, we’ll have workshops, arts and crafts, and all those amazing camp activities you didn’t realize you were missing. Archery. Canoeing. Moonlight ziplining. The works. We’re also planning on a movie night, a pool party, and a dance party (because obviously). And if you just want to take a nap, read a book, or talk to a new friend? All forms of being lazy are highly encouraged.
Plus, we will have a professional photographer on staff, taking totally beautiful, Instagram-worthy vacation pictures for you so that you have complete freedom to bury your phone in your suitcase for the weekend and forget about it. You’ll have to wait till you get home to post those pictures though, because the Wi-Fi is spotty at best. Which means those emails will also have to wait. So sad. Have another s’more.
The Next Steps
Tickets go on sale on April 20th at 9AM PST (that’s next Friday) right here. The early bird price is $850, and that includes room and board, delicious food, fun programming, and airport shuttles. We’ve structured payment so that you can pay in full, or you can pay a non-refundable $300 deposit, with the balance due on July 1. (We tried to give you enough time to YNAB that fun money together.)
We have a full list of FAQ here, but to answer the most pressing question: it’s fine, and even encouraged, for you to come by yourself. We expect that most of our campers will be flying solo… right until they get to camp. Because then, we’ll all be together. And that part, we really, really can’t wait for.
See you in August. We’re counting down the days.
What if you can’t come to camp? Don’t worry. Firstly, we’re hoping this is the start of many future IRL hangouts. But it’s not like we aren’t still hanging out at our desks a good chunk of the time. And we still very much want you there. You can come hang out with us on Instagram, and you can sign up for newsletters here. We know this is the beginning of something new, and we have a lot of ideas of where we might want it to go, both online and off, but right now we’re taking the first step and living in possibility. We figure there is no better way to start something new than in community.
P.S. To celebrate the launch, we’re giving away a gift bag filled with some of our favorite goodies to one of you, our most favorite people on the internet. Anyone who buys a ticket on the first day (deposits included—it doesn’t have to be a full ticket)—April 20th—will be entered into a drawing to win some of our favorite things to get you ready for camp. It’s gonna be good. So mark your calendars and set your alarm for next week!