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Tammi Leader Fuller is an Emmy-Award winning TV producer who walked out of the control room and into the woods to take people to her childhood happy place and help them align with their life purpose. Leaving behind her successful career at NBC News, The Today Show, CBS News, and EXTRA TV, in 2013, at age 53, she created Campowerment, a sleepaway camp experience that wraps an empowering, expert-led curriculum around fun and games.
In just five years, Leader Fuller grew Campowerment to include over 30 camps serving 5,000 happy campers. What began as a women’s-only brand morphed into a corporate co-ed retreat space, helping companies and organizations rebuild their cultures through the power of playtime. Events have taken place at high-end kids’ summer camps from Malibu and Ojai, California, to the Catskills and Poconos Mountains in the Northeast. In 2016, Leader Fuller created Give Her Camp, a non-profit designed to help deserving women get to Campowerment on scholarship.
Then on November 8, 2018, as Leader Fuller and her team of 22 were setting up, preparing for a 160-woman retreat in Malibu, the now infamous Woolsey Fire began and started to move closer. In dangerous and frightening winds, Leader Fuller led her team down the mountain, leaving behind all their supplies as they believed they would be returning the next morning for business as usual. Instead, 14 hours later, they learned that the entire facility had burned to the ground, taking with it all of Campowerment’s material possessions, which they kept in a storage container on the property. Since then, Leader Fuller has been overwhelmed by the support of the Campowerment tribe, which has inspired her and her team to rebuild. “The few thousand people who have attended our retreats have astounded us with their love,” Leader Fuller says. “Talk about the power of community.”
Leader Fuller, who runs Campowerment full-time along with her 30-year-old brand strategist daughter and 82-year-old college writing professor mother, loves what she does. “ We give people of all ages an intergenerational platform to grow and learn and share some of life’s universal lessons, through hilarious laughter and coaching, along with a roadmap to help them elevate their lives.” Leader Fuller is also excited about the corporate side of the business, which she says is exploding. “Companies are searching for more way to get their people to collaborate and connect more deeply with themselves, each other, and the corporate mission. And we’re helping them rebuild their cultures, making room for their people to thrive.”
Here, Leader Fuller offers stories of five participants who say that their 72 hours at Campowerment helped them discover what they were meant to be doing with their lives. Each one made a big change to align her career with her life purpose.
Kelli Vieweg, 56: HR Consultant, CMCK
Vieweg spent her whole career at Nestle USA, and recently walked away from a huge job as a Corporate Training Manager in HR. Her own personal Campowerment experience was so profound that she brought it to Nestlé and convinced her bosses to take 100 of their women leaders to a Campowerment retreat in October 2018. And then she quit.
“If I hadn’t gone to Campowerment, I don’t think I would have had the courage to leave Nestle after 25 years. The company was moving and offered to relocate me and I was seriously considering it. At camp, I learned there was no wrong decision, which made my decision to leave so much easier.”
Kelli is now on her own, an HR consultant for businesses and organizations working with teams and leaders to implement change. She helps companies re-create their organizational design to increase efficiency and optimize systems. She says, “At Nestle, I was criticized for being so strict about process. Now I get to go implement that strategy into other companies, where I’m celebrated for that.”
Jesse Moss, 28: National Program Manager, Experience Camps
Moss is an experienced social media strategist and project manager who spent years perfecting her craft in the world of television production at Warner Brothers and E! Entertainment. Then in 2012, her brother died by suicide, and she started searching for a community of support.
Three-plus years later, Moss moved to DC to become one of the last President Obama appointees, working at the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH), where she was hired to run the government agency’s social media marketing and redesign their website. That same year, ahead of the move and new job, she says Campowerment helped her open the door to acknowledging her grief.
Encouraged by her journey at Campowerment, Moss decided to volunteer at Experience Camps, a one-week camp for kids who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling or primary caregiver. It’s a place where kids can laugh, cry, play, create, remember the person who died, or forget the grief that weighs them down. She loved volunteering there so much that she applied for a full-time job to become the newly-created National Program Manager for the organization. She’s using her digital expertise to help this nonprofit grow and prosper, and at the same time, continuing on her grief journey as she helps others do the same.
Jen Schwartz, 35: Founder, MOTHERHOOD | UNDERSTOOD
In 2016, Schwartz walked into her first Campowerment retreat slumped over and unsure of herself. It had been two years since she had overcome severe postpartum depression and two months since she had launched a blog to share her story and help other moms feel less alone. In just three days, she says, “I morphed into my authentic self… These women told me how fierce and strong I was. How my honesty and passion to help other moms inspired them. I may have started putting the raw details of my postpartum depression battle online for the world to see, but I didn’t exactly see myself as these other women saw me. It was life-changing. I felt validated.”
Over the next two years, Schwartz attended five more Campowerment retreats. As a result, she says, “I’ve never felt so connected and aligned with my true purpose.” She has transformed her blog into a platform called MOTHERHOOD | UNDERSTOOD, which speaks to the 20% of new moms affected by maternal mental health issues. Her Instagram account has quickly grown to 15,000 followers. Schwartz has written over 50 posts for more than 15 online publications and is considered an influencer. “I want other women to feel the authenticity, connection, empathy, and power of women supporting women that I found at Campowerment.”
Freda Hobbs, 50: Executive, Bedroom Kandi
“Campowerment came at a pivotal point in my life,” says Freda Hobbs. “My mom had died a month before my first experience there, and I was raw.” Already a certified life coach, Hobbs was motivated by camp to start a business as a sex toy party consultant. “It began as a fun hobby, but soon I realized what a great match I was for this home party business.”
Today, more than 500 people work under Hobbs as reps for Bedroom Kandi. She has been celebrated as the company’s top salesperson for the past two years. “Campowerment is where I found my mojo,” she says. “It’s where I realized that I had a unique voice and that I could help other women like myself find their voice. It’s helped me feel comfortable with the idea that what I do is valuable, important and worthy of supporting me financially. “
Elisabeth Fort, 36: Global Service Training and Development Manager, Ingersoll Rand
Fort came to her first Campowerment while in between jobs. She had been let go not long before, and was feeling “overwhelmed and downtrodden with job hunting, resume building and creating the perfect package for a future employer.” Campowerment gave her much-needed time to reflect on what she wanted from an employer and her career. She says, “I realized that I bring a spunk and zest for life to those around me, and that this is a gift I have to share with the world.”
A year and a half later, Fort is working for a company that she admires for its strong values and commitment to developing women. “I run leadership and on-boarding programs for my business unit, and I am known for bringing fun into work,” she says. “For the first time in a long time in my career, I am thriving as me. Campowerment reminds you to have the power and confidence to be your true self, even if you don’t know beforehand that’s who you’re supposed to be.”
January 7, 2019 at 09:32AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs