The Insider’s Guide to the 3-Day – Camp: I Love the Night Life!

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.

Route image

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?

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

More of anything? More of everything!

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.

Dallas Day 2

A fed walker is a happy walker.

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.

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


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.


That’s entertainment!

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.

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

Escorted by a Route Safety supporter, the last walker carries in a flag with the words, “One Day Closer to the End of Breast Cancer.”

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.

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 3 to find a cure for breast cancer.

Well deserved cheers surround the last walker as she raises the flag.

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

Welcome home!

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.

San Diego Day 1

Stories from our survivors remind us why we walk.


San Diego Day 1

All kinds of shenanigans go down during the Camp Show.

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!

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 3 to find a cure for breast cancer.

Dance Party!

Washington DC 3-Day Day 2

Aw yeah…she got that “Survivor Swag”

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.

dance party emts

Even the EMTs can’t resist the dance party.


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

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®.

Route image

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?”


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, complete 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. Outside the showers, you’ll find baskets of sample-sized beauty products, as well as hair drying stations. 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


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.”).

september 09 140

Home pink home.


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.


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.
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 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.

Route image

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 grahamwiches. 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

grahamwiches stamped


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 in 2013. 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 (or even an orange sign along the route), 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 16 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 grahamwich 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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