The Insider’s Guide to the 3-Day – Camp: Just Like a Sleepover, Only More Pink

Just imagine: You did it! You finished Day 1 of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®.

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You logged thousands of steps and boy, do your feet feel it. You filled up on string cheese, animal crackers and orange slices and you emptied your water bottle (and your bladder) a dozen times. You took a hundred pictures. You’re sweaty and spent, but looking ahead, you can see the pointy tops of a giant white tent in the distance, like the most welcome circus ever. You hear music and clapping growing louder. Suddenly, you’re filled with exhilaration as you approach the end point, surrounded on all sides by cheering admirers.

Seattle Day 2

Camp Services crew team members, ready to welcome you home

San Diego Day 1

High fives for everyone!

The support you had all along the route kept you moving, and right now, it propels your tired body, arms raised triumphantly above your head, over the finish line. You’ve arrived at last to your home away from home for the next 2 nights – CAMP!

Holy smokes, you need to pee again…

Okay, feel better now?

Welcome to Camp!

I’m probably one of the least outdoorsy people you’ll ever meet. My idea of “roughing it” is a hotel without room service. So when I did my first 3-Day, my thought was, “You want me to sleep where now?”

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Seriously? THIS is where I get to stay? Yes please!

But it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with camping on the 3-Day, because the 3-Day camp is so many things to me:

  • It’s a big, colorful, vibrantly delightful part of the full 3-Day experience.
  • It’s the long-sought and welcome refuge at the end of a 20-mile road.
  • It’s full of community and congratulations and comfort.
  • Oh, sweet relief, it’s a warm shower!
  • It’s a place where it is perfectly acceptable—expected, even—to wear your jammies to dinner.
  • It’s where my team and I join each other again and share our stories from the route. Have you ever had one of those experiences where you get to the end of the day, then recall something that happened just that morning, and it feels like forever ago? THAT’S the 3-Day! There is SO much life packed into a single day on the 3-Day, that you can spend the whole evening talking and laughing and hugging and crying about things that happened just a few hours ago. And that’s what you do at camp.

The Clean Machines (aka, the 3-Day Shower Trucks)

The fact that they have built showers into the back of semi-truck trailers is American ingenuity at its best, if you ask me. How else could you expect to get hundreds of road-weary walkers and crew members all clean and relaxed while camped out in a mobile city? Other bathing options may be passable (I’ve done mud runs where they literally hosed us down at the end), but the 3-Day shower trucks—like everything else on the 3-Day—exceed expectations. Each truck is divided into private stalls, compete with hooks and benches for your stuff, and you can take as long a shower as you want to. The water pressure is good, and I am pleased to report that I have never taken a cold shower on the 3-Day. There’s even an optional towel service that you can buy so that you don’t have to worry about packing up damp towels. It’s not uncommon to hear audible, sincere sighs of contentment from walkers exiting the showers. A clean walker is a happy walker, ready to take on more miles tomorrow.

mobile shower

Showers on trucks. Brilliant.

A Pink Tent for Two

On the 3-Day, you will share a sleeping tent with one other person. Just you and a buddy, sharing a 6’ x 6’ tent. Some of you are panicking now just thinking about it, I can tell. But take my word, you’ll be fine. Your tent serves a very specific function: to cover you when you’re asleep. The rest of your time in camp will be spent out and about doing other things (which we’ll get to in the next couple of Insider’s Guide posts). You don’t need a whole ton of room for sleeping, and you’ll be so darned tired anyway, it won’t really matter much where you are.

Tampa Day 1

Remember that bag you dropped off early on Day 1? It’s waiting for you at camp, just like baggage claim.

Seattle Day 1

Off to your tent!

Susan G. Komen 3-Day® walker take on Day 3 for breast cancer awareness.

Volunteer “tent angels” will help you get your abode all set up.

San Diego Day 2

Ahhhhhh!

Take your tent, multiply it by a few hundred, and the result is “Tent City.” It really is a sight to see all of those charming pink nylon domes popped up throughout the campsite. If you’re part of a team, your tents will all be next to each other, like your own little block party in the neighborhood. And like in the neighborhoods you walked through on the route that day, Tent City’s residents pull out all the stops on decorations too, decking out their tents in bras, banners, boas and balloons. You’re encouraged to decorate your tent, or if you decide not to, at least take note of the adornments on the tents near yours; it will help when you’re trying to find your way back from the porta-potties in the middle of the night (“I’m two tents down and one over from the twinkle lights and inflatable palm trees.”).

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Home pink home.

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Fabulous tent flair is a common sight on the 3-Day

Susan G. Komen walker gear up and take on Day 1 for breast cancer awareness.

Teams tent together, in all kinds of weather.

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 2 to find a cure for breast cancer.

Just another beautiful morning in Tent City.

My TFL (Tentmate For Life) is my friend Sondra. We fill our little pink home with a queen-sized air mattress, which comfortably cushions us in our two sleeping bags, while still leaving enough room along the side for our bags. There have even been times when we’ve left our bags outside the tent at night (tucked nicely into enormous trash bags for protection from the elements) to give ourselves a little more space. We wear flashlights on our foreheads without feeling the least bit silly. We set our alarms for earlier than we’d like, but it makes it a little easier knowing that the other will rise and shine at the same time. We laugh at each other trying to maneuver into our sleeping bags, and we eventually zip ourselves in, then whisper and giggle for a few minutes, before the earplugs go in and we’re quickly asleep.

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Me and my TFL Sondra, ready to take on another day!

The next Insider’s Guide post will get into more of the exciting things awaiting you at camp. I don’t want to say too much now, so I’ll just tease two words: dance party.

We’re giving you the “Insider’s” peek at what the 3-Day has to offer, but there’s so much more to see! Register before February 28 for just $50, and become an Insider yourself!
Want to see the entire Insider’s Guide to the 3-Day? Here are all of the segments:

The Start of Something Beautiful
Pointing, Pacing, and… Motorcycles Wearing Lingerie
Pit Stops and Cheering and Sweeps, Oh My!
3-Day Camp: Just Like a Sleepover, Only More Pink
3-Day Camp: I love the Night Life
3-Day Camp: Happy Glamping on Main Street
Over But Not Ending

The Insider’s Guide to the 3-Day – Pit Stops, and Cheering, and Sweeps, Oh My!

The last Insider’s Guide post delved into the ways that the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® keeps you moving and keeps you safe. Now, let’s jump into the ways for you to stay nourished, stay well, and stay motivated.

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Rest, Refuel, Relieve Yourself – No, that’s not just a catchy headline I just made up, that really is the unofficial motto of the 3-Day pit stops. Pit stops are magical little worlds—themed, decorated, and costumed—that are strategically located along the route every 2-4 miles, so you’re never very far from the next one. Read on to see what you’ll find at a 3-Day pit stop…

Atlanta 3-Day Day 2

Right this way, mama

80s pit

A time warp, or just your typical 3-Day pit stop?

Food – You will be many things while you are a 3-Day walker, and one of them definitely is well-fed. Good thing too. Keeping your energy up is crucial to sustain your physical activity for 6, 8, 10 hours a day, and your body needs constant fuel to do that. On average, walkers burn about 100 calories per mile of walking, so you should absolutely permit yourself to indulge in the delectable assortment of all-you-can-eat goodies offered at the pit stops. You’ll find packaged snacks (chips and pretzels, peanuts, baby carrots, granola bars), fresh fare (oranges and bananas, bagels), and the 3-Day community at large would never forgive me if I failed to give a shout-out to the graham-wiches. I know for a fact that there are walkers out there who wait all year to get their hands on those sweet PB&J treats. So dig in, walkers, and hit the road when you’re ready. Noshing while walking is totally permitted. And since there will be snacks for you every 2-4 miles along your way, you don’t ever have to worry about going hungry.

Arizona Day 1

Some Youth Corps kids pass out snacks

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Graham-wiches!

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 1 for breast cancer awareness.

Quite a variety of tasty treats

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 1 to find a cure for breast cancer.

Arrrrrrgh ye hungry?

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 2 for breast cancer awareness.

Orange you glad we have snacks? (Okay, I’ll stop now.)

 

Hydration – You’ll also refill your water bottle at the pit stops – at every pit stop. Dehydration is one of the most frequently treated medical issues on the 3-Day, and remember, if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. So drink your water, even if you feel like you don’t need it. Consume the entire bottle between pit stops. Alternate with sports drink at every other stop, so you keep your electrolytes up too. If you have trouble remembering to drink (not usually an issue if it’s hot, but a more common problem in cooler temps), you and your teammates can play the Orange Shirt Drinking Game, a little something I picked up walking in the very hot Twin Cities this year. Unlike the drinking games you may have played in college, this one will actually result in your good health and well-being. It’s simple: any time you spot an orange-shirted Route Safety crew member, take a drink of your water/sports drink. They’re out among you all day, so you’re sure to get plenty of drink reminders. See? You didn’t know staying hydrated could be so much fun, did you?

refill time

1) Refill bottle; 2) Keep being fabulous; 3) Repeat.

Deluxe Accommodation Portable Toilets -  So now you’re out there, hydrating like a champ, and it naturally follows that when you get to the next pit stop, you’ll be making a beeline for the pee line (you can thank my 15 year old daughter for the rhyming reminder). I know what you’re thinking. Porta-potties? Ugh! I thought the same at first, but believe me when I say that these are not the foul, stinky, oh-dear-heavens-what-is-that-on-the-seat? outhouses you may be imagining.  I swear, on my last square of TP (which you won’t have to fret about, since there are always spare rolls within reach), that these are the cleanest, most well maintained mobile commodes you’re likely to come across. The pit stop crew teams even go the extra mile to make your…ahem, “alone time”…a bit more enjoyable, by hanging entertaining pictures, comics, trivia, or jokes inside the doors. Bottom (no pun intended) line, when nature calls, you’ll answer from the inside of the nicest portable facilities you’ve ever used.

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 2 for breast cancer awareness.

See? They aren’t so bad! Look how happy we are!

Medical attention – Oh, how I seethe when someone dismisses what we 3-Dayers do: “Well, it’s just walking, right? How hard can it be?” Yeah! 20 miles of walking a day, times 3! Make no mistake, the physical impact that walkers endure from all those miles is real. Training is vital, and in a perfect world, your body will be as prepared as it can be for the 60-mile demands you’re putting on it. That said, if you do find yourself with a troubling muscle ache, joint pain, blister (the other most frequently treated medical issue), or some other feeling of unwellness, seek out the red shirts, and you will find the incredible medical crew members ready to take care of you at every pit stop. Doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and paramedic/EMTs, these saints on earth volunteer to spend the weekend with your sweaty feet in their hands, working small miracles with moleskin, trainer’s tape, and cooling ointments so you can get back out on the route. After you grab one more graham-wich for the road…

San Diego Day 1

The medical crew is SO happy to take care of you!

Arizona Day 2

You’ll find a medical tent at every pit stop, just in case you need it.

Dallas Day 2

Trust the medical crew’s advice.They know their stuff.


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Have Hope, Will Travel

After John Shinar lost Martha, his wife of 30 years, to breast cancer, he got involved with the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® in a big way. He decided that walking in one Komen 3-Day event in the Twin Cities, where he lives, wasn’t enough for him, so John made the extraordinary commitment to raise funds and walk in all fourteen 3-Day® events in 2013. He traveled coast to coast, logging 840 miles in memory of Martha.

John’s undertaking—essentially becoming a full-time 3-Day walker for the summer—was exceptional, but every year, hundreds of other 3-Day walkers pack up their sneakers and sleeping bags and travel to an out-of-town 3-Day destination as well.  What a wonderful world it would be if we could bring a 3-Day walk in every city in America. Alas, that just isn’t possible, so for many walkers, a “destination 3-Day” is the only option.

I live in the Los Angeles area, a location that doesn’t currently have a 3-Day event, so I’ve pretty much always had to travel to walk. At first, my teammates and I stayed as local as we could—we traveled a couple hours south to San Diego, then a couple more hours north to San Francisco, and one year, we even ventured all the way up to Seattle. Then in 2010, we decided to make the destination part of the whole experience, and registered for Washington, DC. In the years following, we’ve made the choice to travel to walk in Philadelphia, Boston and the Twin Cities. This year, we’re Atlanta-bound.

Traveling to the 3-Day is not easy. I have to budget additional time (an extra day before and after the walk for flying, and sometimes more days, if I decide to do some extra visiting) and money (plane tickets, hotels, cabs). Packing a duffle bag with everything I need for the event, plus extra travel days, is an exercise in creativity and patience. Then there are the additional logistics that go with leaving my family for several days and making all the arrangements for the kids’ carpools, after school activities, meals, etc. But I truly look at those sacrifices as an investment in something bigger. If I travel, I walk, and the funds that I raise for the 3-Day go toward my goal of seeing an end to breast cancer in my lifetime.

The investment is also in what I get out of walking. In my “Insider’s Guide to the 3-Day” blog posts, I’ve been sharing my perspective on some of the incredible experiences of being a 3-Day walker. Day to day life moves so fast (fast technology, fast paced job, fast cars…well, except in L.A. traffic), and walking forces me to slow down and take in every moment. Seeing another corner of the world, sometimes a place that I’ve never been to before, and experiencing what it has to offer from two feet instead of 4 wheels is such a gift.

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I know that some of you reading this may be saying, “That’s great for you, but I just can’t do that.” I get it. I respect that making the trip to walk somewhere far from home is not feasible for everyone. It’s a choice I make—and a personal choice for each person—to give up some other things throughout the year so I can do this thing for 3 days. They’re 3 days that fulfill me in an immeasurable way, so for me, the choice is simple, even if getting there will be difficult.

This year, with the 3-Day visiting 7 cities instead of last year’s 14, even more participants will be traveling to their events. It was a tough decision for the 3-Day to exit from cities where we had established deep ties over the years, but it has been inspiring to see so many walkers and teams from those cities accept and embrace the change and look forward to representing their hometowns in a new location this year. Look for big contingents of Tampa Bay walkers taking on Atlanta, Boston and DC walkers descending on Philadelphia, and Chicago and Cleveland folks greeting their Midwest neighbors in Michigan and the Twin Cities.

John and his Miles for Martha teammates will return to a few cities to walk this year, and in the meantime, there are 7 other incredible people (so far!), who are registered to walk in all 7 Komen 3-Day events. If you live in one of those cities, we hope you will welcome them and all of the traveling 3-Day participants to the place that will be their home for the weekend. And if you’re thinking about making the trip to a distant 3-Day destination in 2014, I encourage you to do it. Make it happen! Like with everything 3-Day related, you won’t regret it, and there’s no question that a warm welcome awaits you, too.