WEST MILTON - Camps are common during the summer, as people walk through the woods, sit around the campfire and do arts and crafts projects. These activities are not just for kids, however, with Camp Ladybug for Women celebrating its third year July 12 to 15.
Terry L. Stahley, camp director, started the camp as a way to help women relax amidst their busy schedules.
"As a woman, I'm a natural-born caregiver," she said. "Wife, daughter, mother."
Camp Ladybug attendees gather in the woods. Front row, from left: Terry Stahley, Sara Merritt, Karen Borusiewicz, middle row: Shelly Adams, Patricia Masden, Monica Fisher, Susan Epley and back row: Mary Willard, Betsy Robertson, Rosemary Colgrove, Faith Clark, Jeanette Bongiovi, Janie Neff.
Some women tend to get lost in those titles and do not take out the time to focus on themselves.
With all of the camps available for children - such as music, basketball and Boy Scouts - Stahley thought it would be "fun" if she could go to camp.
The idea sat for years, until her daughter saw a similar camp in California. That got the ball rolling because, shortly after, she found the Central Oak Heights in West Milton as a place to host the camp.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Camp Ladybug
WHEN: July 12 - 15
WHERE: Central Oak Heights, West Milton
"I fell in love when I pulled up the driveway," Stahley said.
It felt like she had gone back in time, with bare cabins, an old-fashioned swing set and a screen door that slams behind the people exiting it, she said.
Since the camp is for women, Stahley dresses up the cabins with art work and cloths to give it a feeling of home.
"It's a chance to nurture yourself, your body, mind and spirit," she said.
At first, she did not know if the camp would work.
"I took a leap of faith that this was a good idea," she said. "No cellphone, no computer, no responsibilities, no husband, no kids, no cooking. (Women are) so attached. They just need to stop and go live."
After finding the location, she sought out ways to entertain the women during the weekend.
She brings in a singer for times around the campfire and a massage therapist and Reiki master to help the women relax.
Participants also can work on their creativity by doing arts and crafts projects. Some of the women tell Stahley they don't know how to do them.
"Just play," she said she tells them. "Paint. Have fun."
Simple tips also help the women feel better about what they have created.
"Putting mattee around something that looks 'eh,' (makes it look) like a masterpiece," Stahley said.
Plenty of options for exercise are available. Besides walking in the woods, staff from Evangelical Community Health lead the women in a hula hoop exercise.
"What fun!" she said. "When's the last time you have hula-hooped?"
On Sunday morning, a non-denominational church service is held before the women go back home, led by the Rev. Jasmine Loney in the outdoor Sylvan Chapel.
All of the programs are included in the cost of the camp, except the massages and Reiki, which comes with an additional fee. Women can choose to attend some, all or none of the programs.
Because the camp is in the woods, women have to be physically able to walk through it to be able to come. She has had women between 19 and 74 attend the camp in its previous two years.
And what's camp without food?
Excluding s'mores around the campfire, the participants have a weekend where they do not have to cook. Instead, they are provided with a cooked meal. The weekends start on Thursday. On Wednesday, Stahley goes to the farmer's market to get the food.
"I want them to feel really special because each and every one of us has something to offer the world," she said.
Space is limited to 24 women at camp.
For more information, visit campladybug4women.com.