An event unlike any other, the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® is a full weekend experience. While the walkers are out putting in all those miles on the route each day, the 3-Day staff and crew are back at camp, creating a home away from home for all participants.
In the last Insider’s Guide post, I talked about the some of the basic necessities that the 3-Day camp provides for its inhabitants, including sleeping tents and showers. If those things were the only amenities that you got at camp, it would still be impressive. But no. The 3-Day doesn’t stop with the basics. They take your average camping experience and turn it up to 11.
Nom Nom Nom…
As I’ve already described in delicious detail, the 3-Day keeps its participants well-nourished throughout the event, and camp is no exception. The big difference is at camp, you’re treated to hearty, hot catered meals for dinner and breakfast. Fun fact: I recently found out that the 3-Day caterer is the same caterer that the US Olympic team uses. We’re eating the same food that Olympic athletes are eating, you guys! How cool is that?
There’s a great variety of food options for your in-camp meals. In addition to two or three hot cooked main courses and sides, dinner always includes a salad option, bread and dessert; likewise, breakfast also has scrumptious hot selections, as well as cold fare like cereal, yogurt and pastries. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, soft drinks and juices are included with all camp meals as well. And all of this deliciousness is served up right onto your plate by the wonderful Food Service crew team. In case you’re worried about getting enough to fill your belly, rest assured that like your on-route sustenance, food in camp is all-you-can-eat.
Under the Big Top
Once you’ve got your mitts on a plate (or two…What? Sometimes you need a whole separate plate just for rolls and brownies! Don’t judge me!) of yummy grub, head on over to the dining tent. You can’t miss it. It’s an enormous white tent in the middle of camp.
You may already be hearing music coming from inside, as live entertainers perform for your dinnertime enjoyment. As more and more walkers make it back to camp and get settled, the dining tent fills up with the sights and sounds of hundreds of people with 20 miles more of life under their belts. They’re 20 miles more tired, yes, but also more alive. It’s awesome.
In 2014, the dining tent set-up that many of you were familiar from past years got a makeover. We said adieu to the long rows of plastic-covered tables and chairs and ushered in a warmer, friendlier configuration of round-table seating, staging and ambiance (less “mess hall” and more “fun wedding reception”).
Time Out! The Last Walker Has Arrived to Camp!
This is one of my absolute favorite things that happens at the 3-Day camp. As we’ve said before, the 3-Day is a take-it-at-your-own-pace walk, and NOT a race. There was no gold medal for the first person who finished the route hours earlier, but a big announcement is made and everyone stops what they’re doing to come out and welcome the LAST walker who arrives at camp each day.
It’s genuinely inspiring and very emotional to see. This is a walker who perhaps moved a little more slowly throughout the day, but still kept moving. Maybe she had to stop and get her sore feet and legs taped up once or twice, but that didn’t stop her. While many of her fellow walkers were already back at camp, showered and fed, she was still putting one foot in front of the other, determined to make it to the end. She’s a living example of the spirit of the 3-Day – a commitment to never give up, even when it’s hard. And now, she raises a flag in the middle of camp to celebrate the victory we all share: being one day closer to the end of breast cancer.
Back in the Dining Tent…
The nightly Camp Show is another much-anticipated aspect of the 3-Day camp experience. The inspirational hosts of the Opening Ceremony from earlier in the day (seems like forever ago, doesn’t it?) take us through an entertaining and often downright hilarious recap of the day’s adventures, reveal a glimpse into tomorrow’s route and weather forecast, and share other news and announcements from around camp. They also help us welcome guest speakers, including survivors and co-survivors who bravely share their stories. The Camp Show includes videos, a slide show, games, audience participation, music, jokes and more.
Friday night is all about celebrating the 3-Day participants. We recognize top fundraisers, top teams, training walk leaders, multi-event participants and team captains. It’s a massive pat-on-the-back for all of the extraordinary things that the 3-Day walkers and crew have accomplished to get where they are. Hugs and high fives for everyone!
On Saturday night, we take that same love fest and open it up to friends and family. This was a new aspect that the 3-Day introduced in 2013, and I think it’s just wonderful. So often, our friends and family members who are not part of the 3-Day themselves struggle to comprehend what an incredible, life-changing experience the 3-Day is. Allowing them to visit camp on Saturday gives them a chance to see first-hand all that you have worked toward for the months leading up to the walk. And it’s not just the visitors who get something out of the experience: last year, I talked to a first-time walker after her event, and she told me that by Saturday night, she was so physically and emotionally exhausted from walking, she was about ready to throw in the towel. But then her family came and met her at camp that night. Getting hugs and kisses from her kids and her husband and being showered with their very sincere amazement at what she was achieving was just the thing she needed to keep going on Sunday.
Boogie Down on 40-Mile Legs
A lot of people would tell you that you’re nuts for walking 60 miles in 3 days. A lot of people would claim that the physical demands of such an endeavor would be overwhelming. A lot of people would shake their heads in disbelief when you tell them that, after completing 40 of those 60 miles, you’re then going to shake your groove thing at the 3-Day’s epic Saturday night dance party. And a lot of people would be so, so very wrong!
The Saturday night dance party is everything a great dance party should be: good music, friends all around you, lots of people who “can’t dance” dancing anyway, laughter, zero judgment, FUN! And yeah, you’re tired and sore from 40 miles of walking, but my hand to heaven, I swear that dancing actually makes your muscles feel better. You may sit there at first and think, “I’m not getting up there,” but the energy is infectious. You feel your toes tap, your hips get a little swivel in them and before you know it, you’re up on the stage leading the crowd in the Wobble.
Think you know all the ins and outs of camp now? Well we’re not done yet! In the next Insider’s Guide post I’ll show you all the ways that the 3-Day makes its participants into “Happy Glampers.”
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