Life Lessons Learned From Summer Camp (Camp Nerd Fitness Update!)

“We run, we jump, we swim and play…”

So begins the theme song to one of my favorite shows growing up, “Salute your Shorts.”  If you’re familiar with the show, you’re already probably singing the rest of theme song in your head right now, and will most likely be doing so for the rest of the day.  Sorry bout that 🙂

Although I didn’t spend a significant amount of time growing up attending long summer camp trips, I spent enough time in a cabin, making friendship bracelets, canoeing on a lake, and playing “Capture the Flag” to get the full camp experience.

Over the past few months, we’ve been hard at work planning and preparing for Camp Nerd Fitness, ultimately a kickass Nerd Fitness experience for 300 rebels.  We just updated the site with a TREMENDOUS amount of detail, including pricing and our on-sale date, so make sure you head on over to the site to check it out.


During that time, I couldn’t help but think back to my time in camp, and my afternoons spent watching Salute Your Shorts, Heavyweights, Camp Nowhere, I began remembering all of the amazing lessons I’ve learned and applied to my life as a result of those times.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane shall we?  Grab a s’more and let’s get after it.

Variety is the spice of life

variety leaves

Of all the things I loved about Camp, it’s that there was never a dull moment.  From swimming competitions in the lake, to a barefoot soccer match on the lawn, to making bracelets in the cabin, to telling ghost stories around a camp fire, we always had stuff to keep us busy, challenged, and learning.

I’ve done everything I can to continue that tradition, like Neo, in my every day life (and at Camp NF).  I know our bodies too easily fall into ruts and get stuck; our brains require stimulation and challenge. We need chaos and variety to stay strong and limber.

Just like I was good at some activities and camp and horrible at others, I know I will be better than terrible at some new activities in my life (rock climbing) and horrible at others (swing dancing, yikes!).  I love to play the piano even though I’m mediocre, and I love learning new bodyweight exercises to mess around with even though I’m always falling on my ass.

When was the last time you picked up a new hobby, tried a new skill, or explored a new territory?  Adventure is out there, and variety keeps us on our toes and off plateaus.

Friends go beyond who you see on a day to day basis

NF Dallas Meetup

Remember going to camp as a complete stranger, and leaving a week or month later with 15 new best friends?

Friends that you would stay in touch with throughout the year knowing that you’d all return to camp the next summer?  And then despite the fact that you never saw each other during the year, you’d pick up RIGHT where you left off?

Who your friends are, and who you can lean on, goes far beyond who you see on a daily basis.  Form a strong enough bond quickly and you’ll have a friend for life.

That was my favorite part of camp….and now my favorite part of Nerd Fitness.

A few weeks back, I flew to Dallas, TX for an unofficial Nerd Fitness powerlifting meetup (pictured above!).  I saw 35 rebels, all of whom came together as a result of the Nerd Fitness Community, acting like friends who had known each other for decades (pictured above!)

It was honestly one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of, and gave me such excitement for Camp Nerd Fitness.  With my previous job at Sixthman, I saw communities, relationships, and families form in just a few days at sea; I have NO DOUBT in my mind the same thing will happen at Camp Nerd Fitness.

Your friends no longer have to be the people you see on a day to day basis. They can be people you see once a year at a convention (or camp), people you talk to online in chat rooms or message boards; they can push you to be better, help pick you up when you’re down, and be there for you when you need it…from thousands of miles away.

If you don’t have that support group at home, don’t forget you got a pretty darn supportive community here waiting to help.

Get out of your comfort zone

comfort zone cat

I’m going to share a quick story: I remember the first time going away to camp as a kid at the age of six.  My mother was busy sewing my name into the inside of every piece of clothing I have, as advised by the camp.  When she started sewing my name inside my underwear, I freaked out and panicked.  Asking what was wrong, I replied “mom, if lose my underwear, and somebody finds it, I don’t want them to know it’s mine!”

Why was I so worried about that? I don’t know!  I was worried about pretty much everything back then, including underwear.  Would I make friends?  Would I have fun? Would I get home sick?

Thus, I went to camp nervous and scared, but without my name in my underwear.

Well done, Steve! 

Not surprisingly, I had the time of my life, learned all sorts of cool stuff, and went home a changed man.  Well, a changed six-year old.

Sometimes, you need to take risks and go into unknown situations without knowing anybody.  At this Dallas meetup, new NF rebel, Mike, showed up alone and talked to us how he was scared about joining up with a group of people he met through the internet.  Mike ended up staying long into the night and made 35 new friends; I hope he becomes a bigger part of the NF community now that he feels more comfortable.  Sometimes, it’s a risk, but just like you can develop better social skills, you can develop the confidence to develop new groups of friends too.

You have to be okay with uncomfortable sometimes. That’s where growth happens. In and out of the gym.  You have to walk into a situation that scares the crap out of you, muster up 20 seconds of courage, laugh at the fact that you’re scared sh**less, and do it anyway.

As my buddy (and now neighbor!) Nick Reese told me, “the amount of success people will have in this world is directly proportional to the amount of uncomfortable situations they’re willing to put themselves in.”

99 times out of 100, you’re going to walk away from that experience saying, “I’m really glad I did that.”

everybody plays a role


 At camp, everybody had a job:

  • Somebody had to raise the flag in the morning.
  • Somebody had to gather firewood.
  • Somebody had to help clean up after dinner.
  • Somebody had to dump the bucket of water on the fire at the end of the night.

Individually, none of these activities seem like a big deal; however, each and every role is pivotal to the ecosystem of the Camp.  If one person starts to slack, it can set off a chain reaction that screws up everything else!

Your body operates in a similar fashion.  That one cookie here and there, and that one skipped workout here and there might not seem like a big deal.  Working on handstands for just 2 minutes every day or building a hard hat habit by flossing just one tooth a day might not seem terribly important.


Each and every one of these decisions has a role to play in who you are, and how you operate.  Although we love big picture wins and like to think in giant, grandiose terms, it’s the small details in our every day life that will determine whether or not we have success or failure in our goals for a leveled up life.

salute your shorts


I’d love to hear from you about your favorite summer camp experiences, and the lessons you learned from attending camp as a kid.

I’d also love to hear about any questions you have about Camp Nerd Fitness that we haven’t addressed in our FAQ.  I’ve never been more excited than I am for this event. This is an idea years in the making, now finally coming to life.  Like attending camp back in the day, I’m both nervous and excited at the same time.

We’ll be opening up booking sales for Camp Nerd Fitness tentatively on March 3rd.  With our email list now over 160,000 (!!), and only a few hundred spots available at camp, MAKE SURE YOU SIGN UP for the Camp NF Interest List so you get all of the most up to date information.

I’m looking forward to hanging out with 300 of my closest friends for a long week of adventure. I hope you’ll join me!



photo sources: Peter Blanchard: Arriving at Summer CampLet Ideas Complete: Leaves, Viola and Cats: Cat, Pink Sherbert Photography: Shadow Friends

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  • Ceasefire

    Super. Frickin’. STOKED.

  • PrincessHeather

    So jealous of the 4T crowd, but I already have almost enough saved for a bunk and my flight! Huzzah!

  • Oramac1968

    As an Eagle scout and someone who’s been camping hundreds of times, I’m super bummed that I’ll probably not be able to make it out for this. But I am stoked to see it happening!

    The best camping experience I ever had was going to Philmont shortly before I finished Eagle. Hiking 100-ish miles in 10 days through New Mexico was awesome! Well, except for the below-freezing night at the top of a mountain. That kinda sucked. But either way, it was still awesome!

  • Devyn Price

    Eek! I’m famous! I had a great time in Dallas. Both Steve and Staci are incredibly wonderful.

    I never did the summer camp thing when I was a kid. I always felt like I was missing out on something that most kids got to experience. I was a huge fan of Salute Your Shorts and I always wanted to go on adventures like those at Camp Anawana. Now, it looks like in my 30’s I may just get to reach that childhood milestone!

  • Allen

    Favorite Camp experience was family camp at Camp Tockwogh on the Chesapeake. Without electronics, having to walk or bike from point A to point B, and a great staff, the week felt so long. I can’t wait to take my family on day.

  • Here in Brazil it’s not usual to go to a camp when we’re kids. I’ve never been in one before and I hope I can make it to Camp Nerd Fitness this year

  • Scale Lily

    Camping in itself without too many ammenities is a great health boost. Fishing, paddling, hiking all great life style changes.