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A few of my co-workers and I had been throwing around the idea of a girls trip for some time. When I walked into the office one morning and told Karen I saw an article in PhillyMag and knew what we should do for our trip, she literally filled in the rest of my sentences. She had seen the same article and had the same thought. Just like that, four of us were signed up to attend Rise Gathering on Mother’s Day weekend.
Rise was the brainchild of three women from different walks of life but with the same beautiful intention – to bring together, to empower, and to create a community of women who in spite of their differences in background or belief system, support one another in the journey through growth and self-discovery. Through workshops, meditation, exercise, and community connection, Rise was a choose your own adventure weekend for whatever we needed to nurture our mind, body, spirit, and soul.
Organizers: Alex Cyd Rosenthal • Rachel Rubin • Tami Relles Astorino
Rise was hosted by Camp Canadensis in the Pocono Mountains. I can’t even begin to tell you how beautiful the setting was – a picturesque lake surrounded by trees and plenty of open room to wander. And when I say camp, I really mean camp! Just like kids will shortly be doing, we stayed in bunks! The bunks accommodated about 10 girls, had an attached bathroom, and were very clean. Unfortunately, these are bare bones bunks without any heating or cooling and of course the weekend was completely rained out and unseasonably cold. Thank goodness for rain boots, mummy sleeping bags, and wine!
We arrived and were greeted with open arms and laughter as we strolled up in our matching “Ladycamp 2017” t-shirts. We weren’t quite sure how the shirts would be received, but they got the right reaction. After settling into our bunks, we met our bunk camp counselor, Paige, who took us out on the dock for Open Circle – an opportunity to get to know our bunk mates. We took time to introduce ourselves and then had a few minutes of individual time to write down what brought us here and our intentions for the weekend. I’ll share with you what I wrote during that time.
While there was a planned campfire concert that evening, my girlfriends and I took the opportunity to just sit out on the dock with a glass of wine and enjoy each other’s company.
Saturday was the big day with 20+ available workshops to choose from. Workshops included everything from exercise classes to community acupuncture to meditation. We each chose two for the morning and two for the afternoon, with lunch and rest time in between.
We started our morning with Buti Yoga taught by our bunk counselor Paige Welborn. Buti Yoga (pronounced boo-tee) is a combination of yoga and African-inspired dance. While I’m not a fan of working out (is anyone?), this was a workout I could get down with (pun intended). Paige is clearly a Beyoncé fan and took us through an hour workout that had me dancing even when I wasn’t supposed to be. I’ve done themed yoga classes before, but it usually just ends up being yoga to themed music. This was so much more! Oh and Paige… can only be described as a goddess. She has this amazing combination of positivity, calm, and sensuality, and if my sense is right, a fiery spirit. If you live in NYC or are ever in town and looking for an amazingly fun workout, check out her Instagram for a listing of her classes.
Our next workshop was Know Thyself through Scientific Palmistry where we learned the seven personality archetypes that can be read on the palm. Nikki Kurt took us through an interactive discussion on how to read our own palms and how to read those around us. She was incredibly engaging and I have pages of notes I was scribbling down as fast as I could. On top of that, we were lucky enough that our friend Karen’s name was drawn to get a full reading at the conclusion of the workshop. I would normally say this is one of those things you either believe in or not, but I have a feeling some people would become believers after hearing her speak or getting a reading. As if she weren’t already awesome enough, Nikki is also a graphic storyteller which means she captures what she’s saying or what’s being said graphically on a page. So not only did Karen get an amazing reading, she walked away with a graphic story of her own palm. Our whole group was obsessed and stuck around after the workshop ended to talk to Nikki a bit longer. She was kind enough to give each of us a quick personal reading and I can say we all walked away with something special from that moment. Nikki is based out of Brooklyn and her business is called Palm Mapping. I’m planning to schedule my own longer reading which I will do virtually – yes, she can do that! For anyone that is curious, check out her website Palm Mapping, and if you’re interested in a reading of your own, email her and reference this blog and the code RISE for 25% off.
We rounded out the afternoon with Permaculture and DIY Healing Medicine, 305 Flow (another dance-like yoga), and Herbs for Radiant Skin – some of which we split up for within our group.
On Saturday evening there was a dance party celebration that had us breaking out all of our most embarrassing dance moves (some inspired by our Buti Yoga experience that morning), letting everyone in on how many old school rap songs we knew all the words to, and resulted in pictures and boomerangs that will remain private.
First off, let me say that I think my girlfriends and I got what we came for. We wanted a weekend away from our schedules and responsibilities and an opportunity to create a deeper connection with one another through a shared experience. Different parts of the experience were out of our individuals comfort zones, but everyone rolled with it and allowed themselves to experience something new.
With this being the first year for Rise Gathering, I think there were some opportunities for improvement. There were a couple of workshops that fell a bit flat for me personally and maybe a few too many stops in the day for meditation. However, I am already seeing that the organizers are thoroughly reading and acknowledging feedback from the event so that they can make next year even better. I also have to acknowledge that too much meditation for me may be just right or not enough for someone else. As I mentioned, you choose your own adventure. When I didn’t want to do something, I just didn’t. That being said, it’s all just growing pains and I still rate my experience a 10 – I had a blast! I also have to give a huge shutout to the organizers for the impeccable job they did orchestrating the whole event. It was clearly planned out with so much thought. Even when the weather took a turn for the worst, there was a coordinated rain plan that made sure the overall experience wasn’t impacted in the least.
The things I loved most about this experience was that it was a no frills event. There was no putting on makeup, no doing our hair, and no worrying about what anyone was wearing. I felt so comfortable to just come as I was. The time I would have spent worrying about getting myself looking wilderness chic, I instead traded for more conversation and time to just take a deep breath. If you’re reading this and wearing your shoulders as earrings – this is your reminder to take a deep breath!
I have every intention of making Rise Gathering an annual event. Along with the amazing group of women I came with, I had the pleasure of connecting with other like-minded women. I can’t wait to see what they do next year and to reunite with my campers from bunk 10.
Will I see you there next year?!