Medford, Oregon //
“What if we all broke open?”
This is the question that Lu Crenshaw woke up with one morning last year and the question I found myself asking last week in a short visit to check out Camp 17. With a vision that is quickly outgrowing their community of Medford, Oregon, Lu and best friend Shantell Dayton run a bootcamp-like experience for women, coaching them through workouts, teaching self-defense and counseling people through their pillars of wellness, “to come fully alive,” as Lu puts it.
I met Lu and Shantell at the StrongFit seminar and Coaches Week held in San Diego last month. We realized we’d crossed paths a few years back, but had never actually connected. Though we only shared maybe two short conversations, there are certain people you meet in life that have another spark. I like to chase the things that shine so I packed my winter wear and took a trip to southern Oregon.
A 6-week fitness “camp” for women sounds like a dime a dozen you’d find on Groupon or a bulletin board flyer, but what Lu and Shantell are creating out of CrossFit The Den is hardly cut from the same cloth – these women are tearing through the fabric of people’s lives. Though I only got a brief peek into Camp 17, the light of the tribe is apparent in the stories of the women that go through camp as to how transformative the experience is to mind, body and soul.
Humans are great at building walls. We chart out borders and post up fences, careful to guard and mend the holes. We fake connection from behind a screen and disguise our armor in plaid, denim and fancy bows. What most fail to realize, however, is that in stacking up the bricks of our defense we often shut our own self out in the process as well – building walls has more to do with hiding from ourselves and only until the last brick is laid do we often come to realize this.Those who don’t yet realize it wonder why they still feel so disconnected.
So…what if? What if we all shattered our walls and broke open?
The first thing that would happen is that people would see our mess. To think that anyone, including ourselves, don’t have messis delusional. You can bury it, ignore it and pretend all you want, but the reality is that we all have shit we’d rather no one sees and everybody knows it. When we hide our mess, the only thing we do is tell other people that they should hide their messes, too. Masking your bitterness, shame, mistakes, guilt or insecurities will only cause them to fester, mold and get grosser and grosser yet as we only feel increasingly lonely and more fearful of the day that the rot manifests itself anyway. Negative thought and emotion is a cancer to the body and sooner or later we’ll all wear it whether we like it or not. When we let people see all of our stuff, we tell them that it’s okay to show their stuff also. When we’re real about who we are, we unconsciously permit others to be real with us, too.
Being real, no matter the mess, is what makes us whole. Being genuine connects us to the reality of the experience we’re given. Though we fear that breaking open means breaking apart, what we will actually find is that when we stand beside ourselves and say “here I am,” someone will answer and say “here I am, too.”
[Check out Camp 17 at http://www.camp-17.com or on Instagram @camp.17]