Commentary: First-time camper ready for more

October 8, 2007

In August, 118 women, including Cathy Langham, attended Mickey's Camp for Women. Contributions to central Indiana charities from this camp and from the similar camp for men totaled more than $235,000. I cede my space this week to Cathy to provide a camper's perspective on the experience.

The short story is: I had a great time, and you should do it. (The previous sentence is for people like me who read the first and last sentences of an article, and skim the rest.)

I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural Mickey's Camp for Women Aug. 13-15. Like many women in the community, I signed up because I wanted to understand what all the fuss the last several years over Mickey's Camp for men was about, and because Mickey asked me to.

After sending in my $1,500, I will admit, I suffered from a small amount of buyer's remorse. This was going to take way too much of my already overbooked time, it was too much money, and I already know a lot of people ... who is left to meet?

I never went to camp growing up. With six kids all born a year apart, I think my parents believed our life was already camp. But the thought of learning kickboxing, zumba, archery, billiards and poker was more than a little intriguing. So was the opportunity to spend time with other women who were in "the same boat"-busy, a little stressed out, and looking for something fun and different.

The 2-1/2 days exceeded all my expectations. Spending time with the likes of Tina Burks, Susan Williams, Christel DeHaan, Myra Borshoff Cook, Alpha Blackburn, Melissa Reese, Janie Maurer, Cassie Stockamp and all the others was marvelous. Boxing, self-defense, Pilates, zumba, Texas Hold 'Em, digital photography and billiards were extraordinary, and all the world-class instructors were concerned with teaching us something we could take home. Especially interesting to me were the tears of joy and pride that welled up in my husband Rick's eyes when he heard I learned how to play Texas Hold 'Em. We are actually planning a card party next month.

Lest you think all the activities were strenuous, I heard rave reviews from the participants in knitting (ask Betty Cockrum and Ellen Annala to show you their knitted creations), cooking, and coffee cupping (we had samples of the most expensive coffee in the world!).

The food was phenomenal. Thanks to Café Patachou, Outback Steakhouse, Le Peep Catering, Just Cause Catering, Great Cooks and Co., and Palomino for donating outstanding meals. The generosity of these organizations allowed more dollars to go directly to the charities.

The representatives of the four organizations that were recipients of most of the Mickey's Camp donations did an outstanding job sharing compelling cases for support of their charities. Fully $900 of each camper's fee was shared by these charities and the charity of each camper's choice. Christel House International, 100 Black Women, United Way and the YMCA are deserving of the continued support of this community.

The most welcome surprise of my experience was the great diversity at camp. A group of 118 that was diverse in race, religion, socioeconomic status and age had so much in common: an interest in one another, an interest in learning new skills, and an interest in helping deserving charities.

So ... the big question on everyone's mind is, do the attendees think we should have gone to camp with the guys, and should we go with them next year? My informal survey results are an unequivocal insistence on keeping separate camps. It was fun to spend some time with 118 "connected" sisters. What other chance would we have to do this at our age?

Thank you, Mickey, for taking the time to include the "classy dames" and raise a lot of money for many great charities. You and your team of Kari Strolberg, Susan Roederer and Jill Burnett created a fun, well-organized getaway. Please do it again next year.

Executive summary: I would highly recommend you take advantage of this opportunity in 2008.

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