I didn’t know what glamping was and I certainly wasn’t going to try it. But not because I didn’t know what it was- but because whatever it was- I knew I couldn’t do it. A full time single mom of two, full time job, full time craziness where life basically has this background soundtrack playing at all times of the washing machine and the sink running from doing dishes. I wake up each morning to “I want corn flakes” and go to bed each night falling over, completely and utterly depleted of energy. Glamping? Ha! Have fun to whoever will get to do that.
But I pressed “interested” when the invite showed up on my Facebook feed, only to show support to my friend who was running the singles glamping “event” in the desert over an extended Shabbat. I knew that if I pressed “interested”, my friends would see it on their feeds, and I have many single friends on Facebook. Maybe they would get to go glamping. That’s it. That was the passing thought. Nothing more. Life went on.
Then two weeks later a friend asked if I was going. My response was, “What are you talking about?” When I told my friend they had gotten me confused with someone else, because obviously I would have never signed up for a Shabbat weekend away from my kids (whom I never leave), suddenly a cell phone was placed in front of me with the screen of the “invite” to glamping and what do you know? There was my name staring at me under “interested”. “Ohhh thaaaat- ya- no- I’m not going. I can’t”.
But why not? I was challenged by my friend. Well, ummm, because I never spend Shabbat without my kids? Or because I can’t walk away from my life to the desert? Maybe because I don’t have time to give myself much needed peace and tranquility? Or because clearly I can take care of everyone in the world that needs my love and attention beside myself?
The last thought was a segue to do something I never did before. I asked a big favor. Lucky for me, I have truly remarkable incredible cousins who were more than happy to spend Shabbat at my home with my boys. The moment they said yes was the same moment I realized I was going glamping. There was just one more question that had to be asked. WHAT’S GLAMPING?
Apparently, everyone knew beside me that glamping is obviously ‘glamorous camping’. Considering I do rugged real camping each summer, I figured I could handle glorious camping. And with that, I was off.
Surrounded by desert mountains, fresh clean air, incredible food, holy souls all around, amazing showers and ecological bathrooms that made me appreciate flushing when I got home…it was the perfect elegant balance of perfection.
Perfection? But perfect is usually not attainable! Incredible, maybe. Really really spectacular, maybe. But perfect? Things in life aren’t perfect. Everyone knows that.
Oh, but it was. It really was. The first night, 40 singles sat around a bonfire having to tell each other why they were there. People said, “to step out of my comfort zone” “to get away” “to meet new people” “to have fun” “to experience new things”. My answer was to give myself a loving gift. And boy, did I do that. In glamping style.
In the dark, people didn’t really see each other, but we instantly became close by grouping ourselves into different musical “teams” around the fire and we made sounds, beats and created rhythm and beauty (with no instruments) to create harmonious music between us. Around burning wood. In the mountains. Most of us strangers to one another…singing these beautiful sounds.
What did we do for 48 hours? Well, we glamped. But we also sat in self growth workshops, did meditation, learned about the ‘3 principals’ philosophy, did yoga, sang, played games, drank wine, laughed uncontrollably, learned Torah, ate incredible food, bonded with each other and became friends. Some people shared their remarkable stories, some sat quietly on the side, but everyone was participating with their energies. The weekend would not have been what it was if each and every person there wasn’t present. Together, this completely chex-mix of people, from different backgrounds, cultures, levels of religiosity, and languages, came together to be an incredible mosaic of beauty. The eclectic combination truly created a magnificent piece of artwork. As much as I wanted to recite “Ma Rabu Ma’asecha Hashem” through the entire weekend… from the birds, a shooting star, the sky, sunsets, stars, the moon, nature, and G-d’s glory…the most beautiful scene I saw the entire weekend was when everyone was standing around in a circle, arms around each other, by havdala. That made me whisper those words—“How glorious are Your creations Hashem!”
The energy that took place over the weekend is indescribable. If I explained it in more words it would insult the experience. If I tried to describe it better, it would strip away the essence of its innate holiness. The purity, love, connection, depth, growth, peace and tranquility that was experienced, by everyone, was truly a benchmark in life that could not ever be forgotten. No one left the same as when they had came. Each person might have taken away something different, but everyone got something.
Glamping. It glorious camping because we were in Bedouin huts and not tents, we had clean towels, pillows, mattresses, sheets, blankets, and even hot amazing showers. But that’s not what made it glamorous. What made this camping weekend in the the desert glamorous… were the people. Each and everyone. The glamour was tangible.
At the end of the weekend, after havdalah, we each had to say one word that summed up our feelings at that moment. Some of the words were peaceful, tranquil, loved, fulfilled, inspired, glamped-out, happy, sad (to leave), and someone (an Israeli) was even lost for words! Each person felt something big. The expansiveness that took place over the Shabbat was not theoretical or passive, it was tangible and incredibly real- and each person walked away holding something they had never held before.
Each and every holy person.