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MICKEY MAURER Commentary: Announcing a camp for women

January 29, 2007

Ladies, listen up. Mickey's Camp for Women will hold its inaugural event Aug. 13-15, 2007. You are invited.

The Mickey's Camp concept grew out of a frustrating evening of 8-ball at a friend's house more than six years ago. I started thinking that pool was just one of a number of skills and activities I hadn't had time to sharpen and enjoy during the course of my life. Occupied with business and family, like most of us, I had relegated these opportunities to a lower priority.

I started a list. Since I've always had trouble with the green felt and the little colored balls, I put pool right at the top. I added other pursuits where I could use improvement. My wife, Janie, cheerfully offered a few suggestions-enough said. I then organized a male adult camp experience to teach those skills in an atmosphere of fun and camaraderie. Working with event-planning mavens Maribeth Smith and Kari Strolberg, we booked the Ruth Lilly YMCA camp about 50 miles from downtown, near Shelbyville, and contacted nationally recognized experts to instruct. Mickey's Camp was born. A significant portion of camp fees goes to charity. In six years, the camp has donated more than $600,000 to central Indiana not-for-profits.

Establishing a Mickey's Camp for Women has always been a goal, but I was reluctant to start a new camp project until the success of the original concept was assured. In the past few years, the Mickey's Camp roster reached maximum capacity. Last year, we had a waiting list. In addition, my daughter, Jill Burnett, who has assisted the past two years, offered to assume a pivotal role in the new camp. We're ready.

Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman will offer the keynote address. It has been my privilege to work with Skillman over the last two years. She has played an integral role in the success of the Daniels administration, including economic development. Her bright and charming persona masks an effective mix of street smarts and political savvy. Linda Johnson, the first lady of poker, will teach Texas Hold 'Em. Author and celebrity chef Rachel Matesz will present a program titled "Healthy Gourmet." Stephanie Arnold, a U.S. Olympian, will instruct archery. We are also working on billiards, wine tasting, chess, photography, woodworking, scuba diving and many other activities.

From the camp fee of $1,500, about $1,000 will be donated to charity. Each camper may allocate half of this amount to the central Indiana 501(c)(3) organizations of her choice. The other half will be allocated at the discretion of each camper among the four charities we have chosen to feature this year: YMCA, the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Christel House International and United Way of Central Indiana. Representatives of each of these charities will make a short presentation at dinner Aug. 14.

Although it's called camp, you're not really roughing it. The YMCA has recently constructed air-conditioned cabins with adult-size beds and private showers. The food will be first-class, donated by some of the finest restaurants in Indianapolis.

Word of Mickey's Camp for Women has trickled out and we have already received a number of camper commitments. We are expecting 100 campers and will take reservations on a first-come, first-served basis.

Citing camp and spa experiences, most women I have spoken with have expressed a preference for a womenonly experience. Some women have felt, however, that a co-ed camp is necessary for cracking the good-old-boys network and improving on the male-dominated world of business and professional leaders in Indianapolis. This year, we will survey our women campers and determine whether they prefer a women-only or a co-ed camp. Our decision for 2008 will be made accordingly.

If you have any questions or would like a brochure and reservation form, please e-mail me or Kari Strolberg (ekstro@yahoo.com).

It's going to be an exciting time at Mickey's Camp for Women, but only for the first 100 who enroll, as space is limited. Hope to see you there.



Maurer is a shareholder in IBJ Corp., which owns Indianapolis Business Journal. To comment on this column, send e-mail to mmaurer@ibj.comor go to IBJ Forum at www.ibj.com.
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