Dirt in your skirt blog


Posted on September 19, 2013 by Ambassador Keri


Valerie, Heather, Jackie & Keri

Valerie, Heather, Jackie & Keri

I had the amazing opportunity last month to attend the first ever Dirt in Your Skirt Camp with three of my fellow Dirt in Your Skirt Ambassadors.  It is very hard to put into words an experience that had such an incredible impact on each of us.  It’s truly an experience that you have to be there to understand fully what we’re talking about so start saving up your pennies for next year!  Here are our thoughts and reviews of the camp.   Hope you enjoy the read!

 –Ambassador Keri Strand





Ambassador Valerie Hinsley

DSC_0015I feel like I came back from the Dirt in Your Skirt Camp a bit of a different person.  It was an experience which will stick in my mind for a long time.  I have had a difficult time describing camp to people who have asked me about it but, the first word out of my mouth tends to be amazing!  Then they will ask why, which is not so easy to answer.  The camp was on beautiful property in upstate New York.  No TV, no internet and very limited cell phone coverage.  There was only one way in for campers, which was by boat.  The setting was perfect, with no distractions.

It was an experience where we learned how to bond with others and work as a team.  We overcame fears and did things outside of the norm.  We cheered each other on and pushed ourselves just a little harder than normal.  We learned training techniques and positive eating habits.  I feel that we took something away with us from each person who was there and when we left, it was like leaving a family.  We spent a week together cheering for each other, sweating, laughing and sometimes even crying and a bond like that is hard to break.

DSC_0081 (2)There was such camaraderie and teamwork.  Everyone wanted the others to do well.  At one point, we had to jump into the lake for some swimming instructions from Juliana.  I absolutely did not want to jump in because the water was so cold, but what happened?  Heather reached over and grabbed my hand to jump in with me.  She may not know it, but she made an instant friend for helping me past this.

For each day, we had different work-outs we would do.  Typically, the day started at 8 for breakfast and work outs ended around 5.  The days were full with some being more challenging than the others.  We never knew each morning truly what Margaret had in store for us.  Different days had focuses such as swimming, endurance and OCR’s but never really in the traditional manner.  Margaret would tend to give us challenges to complete such as a timed WOD with while Juliana was a little more indirect with her trainings.  They both pushed us physically but also mentally.

On the last day we had an obstacle course which had been put together by Forrest. What a great sport he was. When he wasn’t cooking us bread, he was working on the course which by the way, was awesome. We all started the course at the same time and once some of us finished, we doubled back to help some of the others through it. A few people even helped out by doing burpees for other racers. While it is always fun to do a race yourself, it is very fulfilling to assist and cheer on others.

DSC_0015 (2)We each spent some time setting goals for not only racing but for life and I feel like I left with a new found inspiration for OC racing.  The time we were able to spend with Margaret and Juliana getting advice and guidance was priceless.  I have taken a lot of this information and already integrated it into my lifestyle and workouts and will continue to do so.  We also go a wealth of information from Irene Call who I will now blame for all the lunges I am doing (in a good way).  But overall, I would not have missed this opportunity for anything and again, I go back to it being amazing.  Regardless of skill or athletic level, it was an experience that anyone could learn from and take away valuable lessons.


Ambassador Jackie Rust

DSC_0019 (3)There are so many times in life that I feel like I am a crazy person or incredibly strange according to the “normal” world.  When I tell people about my racing and my training they look at me like I came from another planet and usually ask me why I would do such a thing.  For one whole week of my life I felt so normal and at home with a group of women who all share the same passion for obstacle course racing as I do, even though we all came from different backgrounds and are in very different stages of our lives.  It was amazing how within days we managed to create such a strong bond with one another and were able to open up to each other.  Although we were all at different fitness levels, I know that each one of us was pushed and we came away from camp with a lot of new tools for our toolbox and a renewed drive for ourselves.  The focus on goals and how to set them and then make a plan to achieve them was very impressive.

DSC_0119The scenery and the atmosphere of the camp cannot be described in words.  It was amazingly peaceful and healing to be out in mother nature and to be so far from our technology driven lives.  Many of us mentioned incredibly vivid dreams and I experienced one so real I woke up with tears.  Margaret said that is actually a very common thing and that they consider these particular woods to be healing woods.  I believe it!

As a Mother it is such a rare treat to be able to take time away and focus on nothing but myself.  At first it was an awkward feeling, not having any responsibilities or anyone that needed me. I got over that very quickly!  I was surprised to see what I chose to do with my free time and how much I had lost touch with me by becoming a wife and Mother.  It was nice for one week to just be Jackie, not mom or wife or employee or one of the many hats that I wear every day.  Just Jackie!

It was actually quite rough to transition back to the “real” world.  I remember being in the airport and I was a little overwhelmed by all of noise and the stress level after such an amazingly calm week.  Once I arrived home I knew that I had definitely changed as a person and an athlete.  My family noticed and my class definitely noticed!  The knowledge I gained from this camp has passed on to my everyday life and I am so thankful that I was able to participate in such an incredible event.


Ambassador Heather Cammarata

DSC_0243The first ever Dirt In Your Skirt weeklong women’s only obstacle course training camp has come and gone.  I learned so much during that week. Looking back quickly I thought it was the physical aspect of the camp that I benefited the most from, but as I sat here and really thought about it, it wasn’t the drill sessions, or the swimming, or the obstacle course that they had set up for us.  As I look back it was really none of that.  I benefited most from the “downtime” or free time that Margaret gave us during these days.  We didn’t have television to watch and there was basically no cell service that meant, dare I say it, no internet!  We were pretty much cut off from the outside world for a whole week.  Having this opportunity of no distractions really gave me time to reflect on my life, goals, and dreams.  It was one week where IDSC_0240 actually had uninterrupted time to sit and think about things that I just pushed off to the side in a normal day because I didn’t have the time or energy to really sit down and contemplate about.  It was the perfect time to regroup and have a renewed focus for when I returned home.

Once I got home I felt so relaxed and ready to jump back into the life of being a mom, wife, personal trainer, coach and so on.  I now know that every once in awhile we need to take some time for ourselves, so that we can recharge not only physically, but also more importantly mentally.  It will not only do our mind and body good, but our relationships as well.

Thank you Margaret for the most amazing week both physically and mentally.  I came back with so many more tools added to my box and look forward to incorporating them into my workouts and daily routines.


Ambassador Keri Strand

DSC_0026I will never forget the week I spent at the first ever DIYS Camp.  What made it so special?  Well, the location was gorgeous.  To get there we took a 3 hour shuttle from the Albany Airport and then waited at a dock for Margaret to pick us up in her boat.  We had no idea what to expect at this first camp, so we envisioned a row boat and Margaret telling us that our first workout was to row across the lake.  But no, it had a motor and we went across the lake to the camp.  We pulled up to a picture-perfect boat house and then proceeded to the lodge.  It was so beautiful and peaceful!

DSC_0086 (2)What really made the experience unforgettable though was the other people at the camp.  I was able to get to know some incredible women.  Juliana Sproles and Irene Call showed up a couple days into the camp and brought a whole new level of energy.  Juliana “The Shark” Sproles decided that everyone needed nicknames.  They decided mine would be “The Caveman” because I was able to throw a spear pretty far and accurately during a game of Spear Pig the day before. (Just like playing Pig with a basketball except with a spear!). I thought it was ironic because that was my high school mascot.  Chris Davis of Project Christ Davis also came to the camp a few days in.  What an amazing person!  It was so great to be able to hear his story from his own mouth.  He is such an inspiration and spends most weekends helping others get through the Biggest Loser Off-Road Challenge at the Spartan Races.

When you have no TV or IDSC_0038 (1)nternet, things can get interesting.  The last night, we had a bonfire and then went inside and had an impromptu talent show.  We had singing, dancing, head stands, the “Screaming Eagle”, self-defense and Margaret at the end with the worm.  If you want to see the good, the bad and the ugly of our talent show here is a link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-TPTj4iKdM.  The night ended nicely with Forest Call singing with his guitar.  Good times with lots of laughter.

During the inaugural DIYS camp we had great workouts, OCR training, an obstacle race, goal setting, good food, relaxation, and massages.  But what will stick in my mind forever are the conversations I had, the friendships gained, and all the laughter.  It’s amazing how much easier these things come with no distractions from our lives, no technology and no responsibilities.  I will definitely do all I can to go to the camp again next year.