Six months ago, when I first Googled ‘Camp Getaway’ and discovered Patti Londre’s brainchild, I knew that I would have to hone my powers of persuasion in order to convince my Los Angeles-based best friend to participate in the adventure. While Denise is brave and strong and all of those magical adjectives, she’s more attracted to fuzzy white robes monogrammed with spa logos and champagne flutes filled with sparkling mimosas. I would have to bring my A-game in order to secure a girl’s-only weekend, set amongst modest cabins in Southern California’s pristine San Bernadino Mountains.

Surprisingly, my debate tactics weren’t necessary, as Denise was interested in Camp Getaway, and the idea of getting away from it all for the weekend. Of course, there was that little matter that she thought the camp’s title sounded a tad like an 1980s B-movie, where the lead character walks right into the darkest, creepiest cabin, never to be seen again. Regardless, in early October, Denise packed her suitcase, and our road trip quest for isolation, tranquility and sisterly fun began.

“What will happen if you don’t get the oil changed on a new car, then drive it into the mountains?” asked the brave, strong Denise. “Aren’t you supposed to change your oil every 3,000 miles?” I convinced her that the car could make the trek, and we continued our trek, munching on salty and sugary treats that would fuel our 2-hour journey from Los Angeles. Our journey began a little late, due to various incidents, and we found ourselves dangerously near the empty mark on the gas tank. We tempted fate, (per usual) and held our breath as each twist and turn of the road offered no welcoming gas station. Miraculously, we made it to the campsite without placing a call to AAA.

Once there, we were met by the joyous, raucous sounds of women of various ages reveling in their newfound freedom. Some snacked, others perused magazines and some chatted by a calming fireplace. We climbed to our modest cabin, where we unpacked and realized that we were definitely not at the Hyatt anymore. But once we stepped out onto the wooden deck, we witnessed miles of open sky, gorgeous pines and a silence that enveloped us. It took some time to feel comfortable in such peaceful surroundings.

The weekend was as planned or spontaneous as each camper preferred. Denise and I voted on relaxation, as the higher altitude required more energy and oxygen. I enjoyed a masterful massage by Kei, who created a serene spa getaway with a few twinkly lights, music and aromatherapy. Other creative outlets included tie-dye, yoga, seminars, karaoke, dance, archery, scrap booking and movies. Camp staff encouraged us to consider the various activity options as a menu, not a schedule.

Veteran campers learned an intricate Hannah Montana dance, and entertained us upon completion. The highlight of the weekend was the Hollywood dinner on Saturday night, when campers wore their favorite celebrity costume, and ‘Joan Rivers’ met them on a red carpet for photos and interviews. Everyone brought their own personality to the weekend, and created a magical combination of fun, escapism and youth.

“I only attended camp once when I was a kid, and it was absolutely fantastic,” said camp owner, Londre. “I tasted foods my mother had never cooked, and was pretty sure that she had no idea what I was doing while there. Everyone is seeking their youth, and camp is such a great way to rediscover it.”

Many camp goers are regulars, returning each year to reconnect with their friends and share past year’s experiences. As first timers, Denise and I enjoyed our novice camper status, especially sampling s’mores, wine and laughs. I’m proud of my non-camping friend for testing out the San Bernadino campgrounds, and thankful that Camp Getaway didn’t live up to its 80s scary movie name. Yet somehow I see a white fuzzy spa robe and a glass filled with bubbly looming in next year’s reunion.

Camp Getaway
304 Tilden Avenue
Los Angeles, California
310-471-3138 x 103