My trip to Camp Nerd Fitness started from a position of very little sleep. I got excited about the costume parties and spent hours modifying wigs and sewing together fishnets, when I really should have been packing! It kept me up late but at least I got everything in the bags. (I normally prefer packing light but I wanted room for costumes.) And I was really happy with the eventual costumes, so IMO totally worth it.
So, up early Tuesday morning and off to New York with only one hour’s sleep (if that). Then a layover in a not-too-shabby hotel where I managed to catch up a bit before checking out again at around 3 a.m.
I got to Atlanta about 9 a.m. on Wednesday 21 September. The Nerd Fitness team had arranged shuttles from the airport (a 2.5 hour drive) but even the first one wasn’t until 12:30, and I was booked on the 2:30 one. I got to know a few people while I was waiting and had breakfast and lunch in IHOP before it was finally my turn to leave. I also missed a group photo – something that would turn out to be a pattern over the course of my stay.
When we arrived at Camp we each got a little goodie bag – oh, excuse me, I mean we got a bag of preparedness (w00t!). In it there was a lanyard (in your house colour) with a name tag (already by the time I arrived at Camp I had had so many “Hi, I’m Itti”, “Itzi?”, “Itti”, “Itzi.” conversations so it was a relief to have something written that I could wave in people’s faces), one starting badge, a bandana in your house colours, an information booklet, a Nerd Fitness wristband, and finally a poncho, torch and sunglasses also in your house colours. So a lot of yellow stuff for me 😛
I went to my bunk to say hi to my bunkmates, but no-one was there. It was actually several days before I even saw anyone else other than Becky in my dorm, but we shared a bathroom with the cabin opposite and I bumped into a few of them on costume prep nights. I guess my cabin mates and I were just on different timezones… that or I was sleeping way more than everyone else 😀
There wasn’t a lot arranged for the first evening, which was a blessing as I was pretty exhausted.
After dinner we all gathered in the “Colosseum” for the welcome talk/opening ceremony. We were all welcomed by Steve and given a little intro on the background of Camp Nerd Fitness. Everyone was really psyched up and cheering at just about any excuse. We celebrated the people who were there at the first year of Camp by making them stand up and get cheered, then year two people, then year three (I missed standing up because he said “first-timers” and my brain just heard “first” and thought it was for the year one people again). And we celebrated the international people – far fewer of us than I expected; only about 15-20 out of 400-plus – and the US armed forces members.
We were also introduced to the Camper Cup, a competition where all the houses could compete against each other, and the house quests, where we could earn badges for demonstrating characteristics of a particular house (didn’t have to be your own). More about those in another post.
There were two things in particular that Steve did in his welcome talk that made me feel like this was the right place for me. First of all, he explained the wristbands. It wasn’t just a random extra piece of branded plastic as I had initially assumed. It was a code. You could wear your wristband the normal (black) way, with the Nerd Fitness logo showing, and it meant, “Hey, come and chat to me!” or you could flip it to the red side, which meant, “I need some space, please don’t approach me right now.” Talk about the ultimate introvert accessory! I loved this! When he finished explaining, I thought, “Wow. They get this.”
The other thing was that he made everyone repeat after him, “It will be okay.” (And, after that, “It’s just for fun.”) As someone who struggles with anxiety, I can never have too much “it will be okay” in my life; it was a great way to start the holiday.
After that, we had safety talks for archery and the powerlifting competition (you can see me to Staci’s right in the pictures below, concentrating hard!). There was a fun moment in that too. There were maybe 80 or so of us in the powerlifting safety talk and almost everyone else was on the other side of the Colosseum. 300 people chatting amongst themselves makes quite a noise and Staci is not a shouter so she was struggling a bit. We closed all the doors between the two areas and we scooched up closer together so that we were closer to Staci but you could still hear the buzz from the other side. She carried on and it wasn’t too bad but someone must have gone over there to shush them because ten minutes or so into her talk there was a mass “Sorry!” from the other side which made us all giggle.
After the safety talks we could hang out and socialise or get an early night. I stuck around and chatted just long enough for the evening snack and then made my way back up the hill to my cabin in Misty Mountains, setting my alarm early for a full day of classes ahead the next day.
Photo credits: The photos with the official logo on were taken by Will Byington – check him out on the Instagrams @willbyington. Most of the others were taken by me, with a few exceptions: Robbie Green took the “Welcome to” sign, Amanda Brooke Cockerham took the one of the cabin and Loren Wade took the one of Steve and Alek on stage.