Places to Be: Camp Yoga on the Sunshine Coast

I never went to camp as a kid. The closest I’ve been to camping is roasting marshmallows over my cousin’s fireplace in her living room — not exactly the wilderness experience that everyone was talking about. So when I heard about Camp Yoga, I immediately signed up because of my love for yoga and the chance to live out my childhood dream of going to camp.

Camp Yoga is a three-day adult yoga camp with locations across North America. Luckily for me, Camp Yoga BC was only a 40-minute ferry ride away from Vancouver at the beautiful Camp Elphinstone in Gibsons. The site is surrounded by the temperate rainforest and rocky shoreline of Howe Sound, which is also a place I hadn’t been to before.

Little did I know, Camp Yoga wasn’t exactly the camp I had in mind as a kid. It also wasn’t the type of yoga I was expecting as an adult. Instead, it was a camp with wine, meditation, handstand workshops, glow-in-the-dark dance parties and much, much more.

Each class was unique and unconventional, including yoga to rap music, boxing and mindfulness, as well as fitness on trampolines. There were also many opportunities to enjoy BC’s great outdoors including stand-up paddleboarding, high ropes, archery, kayaking and rock climbing — and I had sunshine all weekend to enjoy it all.

Something I really enjoyed about being at yoga camp was the ability to lay your mat down on the grass to take a break and admire the scenery. I took the time to either read, journal, or get to know the other campers nearby. I could do whatever I felt like doing, whether that was attending five classes in one day — which I personally found a bit too hardcore, but I met several other people that did this — or taking a much needed afternoon nap in the cabin.

What I did not anticipate at all was the unwavering sense of community among the camp participants. There were people from all walks of life and all different parts of the country, and lots of opportunities to get to know them whether it was over lunch, in dance class or while doing partner yoga. Although, it was difficult to get to know someone while standing on your shoulders.

That said, everyone was so willing to share their stories with people they had just met. I was amazed and inspired by the vulnerability of the other campers and the instructors. At the end of “Camp Yoga Recess” led by the camp founder himself, we all laid on the ground in a dog pile singing “Hello” by Adele at the top of our lungs — apparently a Camp Yoga tradition. And strangely, I think I enjoyed it.

I left camp having found a community of positive people.
I left camp having found a community of positive people. Courtesy Lauren Lee

I went to camp not knowing a single person, so naturally I was a bit apprehensive going into it. But I left camp having found such an amazing community of uplifting, positive and motivating people. I sat back-to-back with strangers, and we exchanged our deepest secrets. I supported my fellow campers literally and figuratively and felt their support in return.

One of my favourite moments was when I was kayaking on the last night of camp. The sun was just setting and was accompanied by the stunning views of BC’s mountains. I stopped paddling and paused to notice the waves around me, the sounds of birds and the vibrant colours of the trees. I felt immense gratitude for where I was and the experience I got to have. How lucky I was to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

The view from the kayak.
The view from the kayak. Courtesy Lauren Lee

Being at Camp Yoga reminded me to slow down to notice and appreciate my surroundings at any given moment. Leading up to the weekend, I felt rushed trying to organize everything before I left; once I got on the ferry, all the chaos in my mind dissipated. I was finally able to set my responsibilities aside for just a few days and recharge how I needed to. Without any cell service, I had the time and space to be fully present, be with my thoughts and let my mind roam free. I realized how often I find myself living in a frenzy and vowed to live my life more mindfully and intentionally.