Last night I attended my first Camp Hoo Ha event, Skivvies. I wasn’t sure what to expect, knowing only that there would be a bra fitting expert there to share some of her wisdom with us women. I wasn’t prepared for the glory that is Camp Hoo Ha, facilitated by ‘camp counselors’ of epic repute.
The event was held at Festival Hall in the heart of Inglewood in Calgary. I left Airdrie early, both out of excitement and anxiety to arrive on time and find a parking spot. A couple of laps around the block once I found the place, and I found a sketchy spot in what I hoped was a parking lot.
Upon entering the venue, I was warmly met by some of the counselors who explained that there was Camp Hoo Ha merchandise to peruse as well as bras, panties and lounge wear from Body By Chai. I immediately looked at the various sweaters and t-shirts with the hilarious camp logo on them and decided on a soft black shirt, stuffing it in my purse so I could grab snacks and a drink.
There was truffle popcorn, very tasty by the way, and a selection of wines. The lady asked me if I wanted to try a Meadjito from Fallen Timber Meadery. I’m a curious person and the rep went on to explain that the Meadjito was made from honey and included fresh mint and lime. I was given a taster and loved it. I highly recommend it! Apparently you can check out their operations by appointment and I’m thinking that would be a fun day trip. The rep gave the first presentation of the night, talking about the origins of the business and their products. The women in the crowd, sitting on camp benches, eating their popcorn, sat with rapt attention. It helped that the rep had rugged good looks.
I was sitting with a friend and we giggled like school girls, stoked to be at our first event, waiting for what was coming next.
The creator of this magical camp, Mel Mckay proceeded to jump on the stage and welcome us all, about a hundred women. There were seasoned campers in the crowd who cheered when called upon and then there were us newbies who hollered our little hearts out. Mel gave the origin story of the camp, this mystical sisterhood of like-minded women, building real life skills in a fun environment, earning badges as they go.
Next up was the camp song counselor, I can’t remember her name but I liken her to Lisa Kudrow’s character on Friends. Bubbly and hysterical. The first song she sang was about sexual health called G-spot. I was laughing so hard I had tears running down my face. Next was a song fit for the theme of the night called Bra Bra Blah, Blah, Blah. Again, another hilarious jingle about ill-fitting bras and sagging boobs. She had the crowd all geared up for the main presentation.
Chai Swinton is a little Asian woman with a huge personality. She owns a lingerie boutique called Body By Chai. Essentially you make an appointment at her luxurious shop and from one look, no measurements, she can tell what size you are and fit you into a bra. Several of the camp counselors called it a game changer. She fits everything from an a-cup to an O-cup. Yes, an O cup. What does that even look like? It was clear from the presentation that I was not fitted right by the teenager who took my measurements at La Senza.
Her business is fully inclusive, catering to women of all sizes and shapes, trans women and even specializes in lingerie for women who have had mastectomies. Bras and panties for every financial situation.
The highlight of the night was when two of the camp counselors came on stage to share their experiences with the bra whisperer. All of a sudden they dropped trou and modeled their underwear. Such confidence was jarring. The one lady was slender but the other lady was more like me. Overweight but she wore it with pride, strutting her stuff all over the stage. It was inspiring.
Through the course of the night several counselors modeled the bras and panties that were available for sale on various racks around the venue. Real women. Not professional models.
The evening wound down and we had time to check out the clothing and underwear available. I had wanted to ask the camp counselor that I identified with about a one piece that she had on that made her look gorgeous but she was swarmed by women coming off the stage. I committed in my head to make an appointment at Chai’s boutique and to take the Bear with me so she could be fitted as well.
Upon leaving, every camper is gifted a badge (see picture above). I proudly collected mine, absolutely in love with this group. I’m registered for an overnight camp next weekend at Heritage Park and I can’t contain my excitement. I wonder how many badges we’ll earn. The friend that I attended with said she would make us sashes. There had been one woman with a sash full of badges, another with a jean jacket loaded with them. They wore them with pride and I felt a tinge of jealousy.
This is my tribe, I thought. I left feeling amazing.
My Bipolar disorder can be crushing but my meds have kept me pretty stable, allowing me to feel up to the challenge of putting myself out there, registering for these events. I was outgoing, happy and enamored. I felt more like my old self. Being able to get out of the house is a huge win and confidence-building.
A very special thank you to Darren, who encouraged me to register when I was having doubts about taking this time for myself. I love you and all of the support you give me.