My Experience at CampFI

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The Birth of This Blog Occurred at CampFI Mid-Atlantic

Due to the generosity of some extraordinary people, this blog became a reality at CampFI Mid-Atlantic.

Firstly, I have to give a shout out to Stephen, the organizer of CampFI, as he puts on an awesome retreat! It was such a fun-filled, inspiring weekend, that I want to share some highlights with you.  

Secondly, Seonwoo Lee gets the photo credit for the theme photo, karaoke photos, and sunset photo.  My new friend, Donna, gets photo credit for some of the presenter pics. Thank God they were on the ball capturing some memories.

What is CampFI?

CampFI is a 3-day retreat where a bunch of financially like-minded people come together and talk about money. All are welcome regardless of where you are at on the spectrum of financial independence.

Hedging off Nervousness

My assessment is that everyone, sans maybe those who had been to one in the past, was filled with some anticipatory, nervous excitement about the weekend.  Here are two ways that I hedged off some of that nervousness:

  1. Got in a day early and met up with some CampFIr’s
  2. Participated in the carpool

Stephen invites you to a private FaceBook group prior to camp so all of the above can be arranged ahead of time.

Arrival

We pulled into the awesome retreat center, Chanco on the James, on a beautiful sunny Friday afternoon. One of the first people I saw was Brad from ChooseFI. After conversing online for months it was so great to meet in person. Kinda feel like he is my brother from another mother.

I met Jonathan from ChooseFI pretty early on and he immediately said he would introduce me to someone who would help set up my blog. #mindblown

Structure

The retreat consisted of 7 formal sessions, some organized fun, meals, and free time to be used however you wanted.

Formal Sessions

  • Stephen hosted an icebreaker session where we all introduced ourselves.
  • Hunter Post gave a talk on achieving your optimal fitness. Also, as a bonus, Hunter did a morning workout each day, which I gladly participated in.  Not sure if this type of formality occurs at all camps but there were plenty of FIr’s working out, in particular, some running groups formed.

  • Karsten from Early Retirement Now explained why the math of withdrawing money in early retirement is shockingly complicated. He is so smart that my brain hurt a little after his talk. However, he is also super approachable and entertained my questions. 
Big ERN & Ms. Fiology

  • JD Roth from Get Rich Slowly spoke on the power of purpose and asked us some really thought-provoking questions that, for me, solidified the importance of relationships. 

  • Joel from FI180, who BTW is an awesome karaoke singer, shared how he and his wife went from 6 figure spending to being FI. As a new early retiree, he also spoke on the importance of flexibility. This certainly balanced out ERN’s scary talk of early withdrawals.

  • Lastly, Jonathan from ChooseFI hosted a roundtable which will be aired on a future episode. The roundtable was comprised of Military Dollar, Justin, JD, & Kartsen and some surprised guests (ahem, me being one of those nervously surprised guests).  

Organized Fun

The retreat center hosted some fun group games and activities:

  • Ziplining
  • Rock wall climbing
  • Ropes course
  • Kayaking
Picture shamelessly stole from Seonwoo

I did some ziplining and then opted to head inside where this site was built with the help of Kevin from Clack Consulting. I have only one word to describe his talents…

P H E N O M E N A L !!

Un-Organized Fun

There was no shortage of board and outdoor games. Groups formed organically.  Advark Advisor & I happily kicked off the Kan Jam outside and I also participated in playing Avalon – intense game!

My favorite was the karaoke on Saturday night. I am no singer but I had a blast watching, cheering, dancing & even trying to sing.   Let’s just say a boy band was formed which included Big ERN.

Kevin (yep, the same guy who built this site) blew us all away with his theatrical performances at karaoke. 

Apparently, there was a campfire going on too, which sounded fun, but no one was dragging me away from the karaoke festivities.

Um, Jonathan from ChooseFI, who we all know and love, was as enthusiastic at karaoke as you’d expect him to be.

The people

I knew there would be so many high caliber people, so I set some goals for myself ahead of time. Doesn’t that sound like a FI thing to do? I had specific questions and/or conversations I wanted to have with specific people – achieved. Then my strategy for meeting as many people as possible (and hearing their stories) was to sit with different people at every meal. I almost accomplished it but unfortunately, I did miss a handful.

It was so great to meet Paige and Sam. It is a different strategy for those of us from an older generation.

CampFI wasn’t a blogger convention but there was no shortage of bloggers. In addition to the presenters, here are the ones I met:

Military Dollar who writes about personal finance, military-specific topics, FIRE and cheap travel. She is also a worthy Avalon opponent.

Luke from Teal Collar who is a realtor with a simple blog about how he does life.

Aardvark Advisor who is my fellow ChooseFI author companion.

Rethink the Rat Race is run by James & Emily who are a total power couple in their twenty’s and BTW, are killing it.

Guy on Fire is another young guy who is crushing it. Realty questions? He is the one to talk to.

Jazz and Lee who have a blog and a photography site.

Fiology (great name) is a course on the foundations of financial independence.  One of my goals in 2018 is to write a quality article which gets linked to in one of these lessons :).

I Love FI which is another new blog born over the weekend.  We rode to and fro the airport together so that makes us besties.

Reaching for FI, once again an inspiring young person on fire.

Kevin from Clackapedia. This is the talented guy I spoke of earlier.

Jackie wrote a book, Money Letters 2, to her daughter teaching her to manage the money she has. Jackie is a respected teacher/authority on financial literacy and, BTW, is crushing it with her HSA.

College Factual is a site designed to help students decipher what college is the best fit for them. This site intrigues me.

Miss Mazuma, who I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time at camp. Her story is so raw and inspiring it got me a little verklempt.

Rewire Behavior was just started by a CampFI Mid-Atlantic attendee; the content is coming soon.

Cost

Mid-Atlantic 2018 prices, which included food, were $225 for a chalet and $300 for the lodge. I opted for the rustic chalet and camped in the woods. This was especially enjoyable when the chorus of birds serenaded the sun up every morning.  However, it became a little more of a challenge when we had a tornado watch and rains to contend with. I lost a little sleep but all is okay. The only other cost is transportation but with travel hacking that can be kept to a minimum.

Final assessment – A M A Z I N G. If you ever get a chance to attend one of these events go!! It was an economical way to have a fun and educational weekend with people of a like mind. I definitely made some lifelong friends.  Cheers!

Oh the memories

13 thoughts on “My Experience at CampFI”

    1. I think I have to chalk it up to beginner’s luck ;-). So nice to meet you and I look forward to next time, MD!

  1. So glad we got the Kan Jam going and got to hang and chat. Much respect for listening to Karsten breaking down crazy complex finance concepts and still being interested and open to learning more 😉

    Hope to see you at more camps in the future!

    1. Yes, I need to practice my frisbee throwing. Kan Jam is such a fun game!

      Haha, Karsten has a beautiful mind! I figure if I keep studying and asking questions, I’ll eventually get better at understanding the complex stuff. Thank God for the shockingly simple math on the savings part!

      Definitely more camps in the future 🙂

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