The CampExperience Network is a one-of-a-kind group of women that started in Colorado but is expanding all over the world as it starts it’s 15th year!
Yes, there are many networking opportunities, enrichment classes and supports for business women like there are in many other professional organizations. But this group… has a heart.. a huge heart. What really makes CampExperience Network stand out is its connectedness to community and focus on philanthropy. Over the years, the sisters (that’s what they call each other) have raised well over a million dollars for more than 50 charities.
That feels good. What brings hundreds of women together are the countless opportunities to do good & have fun.
I first learned about CampExperience Network when I witnessed it’s founder, Betsy Wiersma, receive the prestigious Frances Wisebart Jacobs leadership award from Mile High United Way, one of the charity partners of CampExperience Network.
CampExperience Network is first and foremost about relationships, 24/7. There are close to 70 events throughout the year. Some of those are social. Others are focused on charity like the 25 Random Acts of Kindness events that took place in 2019. The icing on the ‘CampExperience cake’ comes every September with the Fall Retreat where hundreds of sisters come together for 2 and a half days in the Colorado mountains.
“The point was to go away to summer camp,” CampExperience Network founder Betsy Wiersma said. “In this busy, busy life, we hear a great speaker, run to the back of the room, buy the book and we put the book on our desk. Instead of taking the book home and sitting it on the desk… what if we just made one or two or three action steps that we actually did? And what if we did that by going away to summer camp?”
During the camp, the women are rejuvenated through activities, lectures and a service project. At the most recent Fall Retreat, the women gathered together and created 1,000 Acts of Peace. In just 45 minutes, in teams of ten, the women stuffed 1,000 knapsacks with socks, snacks, toiletries and other essentials that they then delivered to agencies in Colorado Springs that serve the homeless.
“To be able to do something outside of work, and outside of being a mother and to help others in the community is just so rewarding,” CampExperience sister Michelle Cook said.
Every year, during the Fall Retreat, you’ll find Michelle volunteering in the marketplace set up in the lodge at La Foret Conference & Retreat Center. All of the campers arrive with belongings that are special to them and that they’d like to pass along to others.. clothes, jewelry, accessories, etc. They are then displayed in the market along with items supplies by local vendors and all the money raised is used to pay it forward. Close to $30,000 was raised for charities in just the 2 and a half days of the 2019 retreat.
“This is what we do every year,” CampExperience sister Phillis Shimamoto said. “These women are kind and generous and it’s women empowering other women. This retreat weekend is a great time for connecting with others but it’s also a time to connect with ourselves.”
“Every year at Camp, I find the right people, have the perfect experiences to guide me in new and exciting directions… to take risks that I haven’t taken before, to try new things and to be a better version of myself,” CampExperience sister Katrina Dorow said.
There is also an online component to CampExperience network and that is what is allowing for this organization to grow its impact and engage more people.
“We got this great idea… let’s have a Global Sisterhood Network,” Besty Wiersma said. “Now, we’re going all over the world and interviewing women. We went to Iceland, Norway and the Bahamas, interviewing incredible women who want to share their story. It’s amplified by Boost Power Radio. I love producing these podcasts. We offer education, inspiration and connections for your life and for your business…. and it’s for women anywhere in the world, any time. Well, men could enjoy them too.”
Betsy is enormously grateful that her idea to bring women together to do good and have fun is still going and getting stronger every year.
“The 15th Anniversary is possible because we are opening up the floodgates of possible,” Betsy Wiersma said with a smile and a twinkle in her eye. “It’s really magical how the right people show up to make the continuation of the legacy. We are going to be a blessing to others and through that, we bless ourselves.”
Here is a PSA we produced to promote the CampExperience Fall Retreat in 2020: