What to Expect (and Pack) When You’re Expecting a Life-Changing Adventure

Whether you’ve…

  • Signed up for your spot at Camp Souldust
  • … Or an international retreat
  • You’re considering signing up but aren’t totally sure yet
  • … OR you’ve got another adult summer camp (or festival, retreat, vacation, workshop–– you name it!) on the books

… This is your guide to preparing for your upcoming adventure. 

This guide will be separated into two sections–– mental/emotional and practical. In the mental and emotional guide, you’ll find some tips for getting your whole self ready for a likely life-changing experience. The practical guide will provide a packing list that will ensure you have the most comfortable time possible. We’ll begin with the mental and emotional aspects, since those might inform what you bring. For maximum efficacy, we suggest reading this in order. 

Mental & Emotional Prep

You’re about to dive headfirst into a journey you can’t begin to predict. Who will you meet? What will you learn–– about the world, about yourself? What will your favorite moment be?

While you can’t guess what might happen, you might be tempted to assume you’ll have a certain type of experience. Maybe you’re an optimist and have the assumption that every single moment is going to be a breakthrough on your personal path toward enlightenment. Or, conversely, perhaps you’re certain you’ll have a terrible time, and you aren’t even sure why you’re going. 

Tip #1: Eliminate Expectations

You might think that moon ceremony will be the highlight of your retreat, but it may just be the night you spend quietly stargazing beside a bunkmate. The thing is, you’ll appreciate that moon ceremony and your astronomical admiration more if you don’t carry assumptions about the value they might bring to you. Accept each experience for exactly what it is: organic, temporary, and completely yours. 

You’re about to be in uncharted personal territory…

Forget about what you should do, and do what feeds your soul. 

Tip #2: Suspend “Shoulds”

Yeah, you should drink more water than you think is necessary (adventures require massive hydration!), but other than that, you should just enjoy yourself. Whatever that means in each moment. So what if you wake up and decide you’d rather sleep in than take that vinyasa flow class? Sleep in! So what if your friends are going to go chill in the hammocks by the beach when you’re craving a salty snack and some solo time? Do it! Indulge in that hummus, friend! You choose your own adventure every day of your life, but that power is amplified to its maximum when you’ve invested time, money, and energy into a container for self-nourishment and growth. Forget about what you should do, and do what feeds your soul. 

Tip #3: Set Aside Sacred Time

When you attend a huge event, it’s easy to fill up your schedule with activities and hanging out with amazing people–– and it’s easy to forget to slow down, take a deep breath, and re-center, solo. Even if you have a friend (or ten) or partner(s) with you, taking a little time to soak up the juiciness of your experience without anyone else to distract is an amazingly potent tool. And, taking a little time away from your crew? It’ll just make you look forward to seeing them again, and that’s a win for everyone. Make sure to schedule yourself some time to be with just you–– and potentially some strangers, all on your own! You won’t regret the opportunities solitary indulgence provides. Bring a journal, some tarot cards, flow toys (like hula hoops or LED wands), or art supplies and let yourself play. Be free. Be you. All on your own. 

It’s powerful.

In Conclusion:

You’re about to have a completely unique and magical experience. Don’t try to limit yourself with old patterns, and don’t feel bad if you decide you’d rather stick to the path that feels comfortable. If you want to stretch your comfort zone, that’s great! If you don’t, that’s okay too. When you invest in following your heart–– with all your heart–– great things happen. 

Let them.

While you can’t guess what might happen, you might be tempted to assume you’ll have a certain type of

experience… Accept each experience for exactly what it is: organic, temporary, and completely yours. 

Packing: What YOU Might Want (or Need) to Bring

You’re about to be in uncharted personal territory and while you know the basics of what to pack, there might be some extras you haven’t thought about. This is a supplemental packing list for those who wish to enhance their experience with forethought. (I’m looking especially hard at you, Earth signs.)

The Social Butterfly
Wanna be everybody’s bestie? There’s no better way to connect than to have something for all your new favorite folks to remember you –– and your shared experience–– by.

  • Sharpies for signing shirts and other clothing, surprise love notes
  • Swag to hand out to new friends (stickers, glow sticks, and travel-size toiletries are always good choices)
  • Matching bracelets, handkerchiefs, or headbands for you and your friends/bunkmates 
  • Biodegradable glitter. You will be everyone’s bestie if you’re the (eco-friendly!!!) glitter-bearer
  • A bluetooth speaker. When you have portable music, the party follows you–– and so do the people!
  • Gum and mints. Everyone wants fresher breath after a long day of hiking, dancing, and lazing in the sun. Be the hero of every trail by stocking up on a variety of flavors
  • Personal “business” cards. It’s easier than swapping numbers with every person you meet

The Nervous Newbie

It’s not only extroverts that come to camp, festivals, and retreats! We attract all kinds. If you’re worried you might be getting in over your head, make sure you’re prepared for self-care in all situations.

  • Headphones! Take anywhere, even if you don’t turn them on
  • Reflective sunglasses for when you don’t want to catch someone’s eye on accident
  • Journal, pen, coloring book, markers
  • Calming essential oils
  • Fidget toys to keep your hands busy when you’re stretching your comfort zone
  • A wide-brimmed hat. It’s good for keeping the sun off your face, but also double as a partial sleeping mask if you need a quick nap to recharge
  • Your favorite snack. Take a moment and taste something familiar as a grounding exercise

The Ambassador

You know how to have a great time, and you understand that half of all fun is problem solving. So why not come prepared to help others solve some some problems? 

  • Sunscreen. Bottles, packets–– you name it, the people around you will appreciate it
  • A multipack of mosquito bracelets. Even if someone brought their own, they might lose it during a swim, while hiking or dancing, or they might just be extra delicious to those buzzy buggers
  • A travel first aid kit. Sure, it’s no triage, but that person who skins their knee on a tree will appreciate the antibacterial gel until they can get proper treatment. Bonus points for up-to-date first aid training!
  • Gluten-free, vegan snack bars. Fruit leathers are a great choice! When the people around you are starving and grumpy, one of the best ways to get the party back on track is to make sure they have calories in their bodies. Making sure they can eat those snacks? Way to be thoughtful!
  • Misting bottles or squirt guns. When it’s hot out, all anyone wants is to head straight to some cool water–– but that’s not always possible. A misting bottle filled up with slightly cold or peppermint-infused water is a great cool-down, but a giant water gun? That’s serious refreshment

Armed with zero expectations and an arsenal of supplies to ensure your most perfect adventure possible, you’ll be sure to enjoy yourself. Don’t just pack the basics–– pack what will bring you joy. Plan for inducing peacefulness, happiness, fun and connection. 

Just make sure to leave your doubts behind. 

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Callie Little

Callie Little writes professionally for places like Vice, Architectural Digest, Teen Vogue, and more. She lives in Seattle with her spouse and really, really likes dogs and La Croix sparkling water. Find her complete portfolio at callielittle.contently.com and follow her on social media at @goshcallie.

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