Our experience at CampFI

In 2017 at our first FinCon, one of the biggest takeaways was the comfort in knowing we’d found a community of people who enjoyed saving money, making money and talking about it without judgment.  We felt the way weirdo’s who attend [insert weird]con conferences feel except we weren’t dressed up in Sci-Fi character costumes.  Although, we did spot a few people wearing dollar bill and gold bar print suits but they were few and far between.

In 2018, we attended FinCon again and the second time around, it was like a family reunion.  We got to meet and hangout with our peeps, learn some tricks of the trade, talk shop, discuss business plans and shoot the $hit.  But one of the best parts was when we met one of our fave bloggers and #firegoals Tanja Hester of ournextlife.com.

Tanja had already earned the maximum cool points allowed for her contributions to the FIRE movement, the quality of her writing and her willingness to stand for what she believes in.  But she earned bonus points when she introduced us to Stephen, the founder of CampFi.  CampFi is exactly what it sounds like, except it’s for grown ups.

In summary, it’s an opportunity for people interested in financial independence (FI) to hangout in a camp-like setting with like-minded people, to unplug from the daily grind and learn a little in the process.  On the agenda, there are a handful of formal “talks” but the majority of the time is spent building relationships and other outdoorsy stuff.

Given neither of us had ever gone camping before and had attending a regional event on our to-do-list, it was a no-brainer to accept the invitation. The icing on the cake was that we were asked to lead a talk as featured speakers while we were there. Schweet!

It was a great way to start the year, especially since we didn’t meet our vacation goal last year.   Secondly, as we inch closer to hitting our number, we’ve come to realize just how important it is to have a community to lean into.  After all, when we’re young and retired, travelling the world with a child and unbound to the traditional Monday thru Friday workweek it’s important to have folks who get it.

When something happens at a rental property and we don’t quite know what to do, it helps to share with those who have their own set of crazy landlord stories. We know our pursuit of FIRE is some crazy niche $hit, but attending events like CampFi make the world feel cozier.  Here’s a recap of our time there.

Our CampFi was over a weekend with the shoulder dates [Friday and Monday] as light agenda travel days.  So we packed our bags and drove down to the sunshine state Friday morning. We always have mixed feelings when driving ‘cross the GA-FL line.  As relaxing as we find road trips, we also know that along the way, we’ll be greeted by reminders of the Old South like cotton fields, images of racist relics and giant Confederate flags waving in the face of progress.

Yes, we see things like this regularly in the metro-Atlanta area, but we also know we’re in a relatively diverse community here.  The further out we venture from those densely populated areas, the closer we venture into the belly of the beast.

Nevertheless, we packed some snacks, bug spray and bourbon and headed down I-75 to meet our future friends. We’re so glad we did because we got some much needed rest, shared some big laughs and met some pretty amazing people.

While, the FIRE movement deserves some of the criticism it gets, the FIRE community continues to leave permanent and positive impressions on us.  At CampFi, you experience FIRE at it’s best.

The agenda was simple.  Eat, drink, chill, mingle, enjoy the outdoors—repeat.

We pulled in just as dinner started and made ourselves a plate with the rest of the gang. At this point, the meaning of the term “glamping” became clearer since we were actually indoors, given a wiFi code and eating a hot “home-cooked” meal served off a buffet line.  Uhh, we’re not complaining.

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After dinner, we all slipped into evening mode, drinks were poured and conversations flowed right along with it.  Some people were on the covered patio, some were inside playing board games while others shared their favorite local brews from around the country.

At any given moment, you could hear conversations about Roth IRA conversion ladders, IT geek-speak, the Amazon HQ2 search fiasco, travel hacks, frustrating work stories or your run-of-the-mill trash-talking about Suze Orman.  If you listened closely, you could even hear sweet baby giggles in the background since a few attendees brought their children.

During the days and in between meals, there was ample time for outdoor activities.  After all…it’s called CampFi.  Each camp is unique since they’re hosted in different locations but ours had an obstacle course, archery, basketball court, outdoor pool, hiking trails and canoeing on a nearby lake.

When we were indoors, we were treated to insightful roundtable discussions and talks led by a handful of speakers.  Writer, MK Williams gave a brilliant talk about passion and Mindy Jensen of Bigger Pockets broke down how Real Estate can provide a route to Financial Independence.

Cody Berman of Fly to FI spoke about designing freedom in life, Brad Rice  of Heads Carolina Tails California spoke about how to enjoy the journey and Carl Jensen of 1500days spoke about overcoming the skeptics of FI.

Oh, and we spoke too!

We had complete freedom to talk about whatever we wanted so while we had an active audience, we shared our story on the journey to financial independence.  We also shared some thoughts on the racial wealth gap in this country because it’s a problem that hits close to home for us and is at the heart of why we tell our story openly.

If you think talking about racial wealth inequality in front of 60+ mostly white and privileged people is hard then...you're right.  If you think they'd be automatically closed to what we had to say...you're wrong. Click To Tweet

For your viewing pleasure, here’s some video of our presentation we snagged from the CampFi facebook live feed.  Sorry about video quality 🙁

If we had an opportunity to go to another CampFi, we would go in a heartbeat.  The time spent this weekend was great not just because we got a chance to escape the grind but because it gave us a glimpse into our future.  For a camp designed by and for money nerds, we sure didn’t spend a lot of time talking about money.  Instead, we talked about our lives.

During our time there, we learned about how other couples met, the military, flight attendants, teaching, cyber-security, the habits of doctors, the Canadian healthcare system, real estate, community workspaces and more.  We learned about games we’d NEVER heard of, said a prayer to the original Batman theme song [don’t ask], made smores, toured a beautiful Airstream and ventured into the darkness of the night to gaze at stars.

We heard from mothers and women who are grappling with raising their children, trying to get their husbands on board with the budget and struggling with supporting financially insecure parents just like us.  We heard from fathers actively rebelling against patriarchy and stepping up in their roles as fathers and husbands.  We also heard from twenty-somethings who are acutely aware of the destruction the student loan crisis has left in it’s path and how it has defined their generation.

Just as we were starting to fully accept the internet as a reflection of how crazy this world is, we were reminded of how therapeutic getting outdoors can be and how it naturally brings people together.  We were already on the FIRE train but this experience made us want to get there faster and to spread the word as far as we can.

Something tells us this won’t be our only time at CampFI.



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13 comments

  1. It was a pleasure getting to know you and your mission at CampFI Southeast. Your passion and practicality had a significant impact on me personally and altered how I am shaping my own objectives within the FI Community. I am better for knowing you both and look forward to our next visit and future collaboration.

    • David, we had such an amazing time with you and the rest of the gang at CampFi. We also look forward to future collaborations, growing and sharing FI with more people. Talk to you soon!

  2. Okay, I already wanted to attend a CampFI someday, but now I REALLY want to. RE: the south – we lived in SC for a time but in a military community, so a bit removed from “the south” if you well (though obviously not entirely). It was actually driving NORTH this past spring into Wilmington NC that really got me, because they have confederate statues still standing in the middle of town, and a lot of them. I’m not sure how we still think this is okay.

  3. What a great post you guys! I wish I had seen your talk. Another reason I’m sorry to have missed Camp FI SE this year. Hope to see you again down the road!

  4. So glad we met this past weekend at Camp FI. I’m sure I’ll be seeing you in the future at other personal finance related events. Keep crushing it and spreading this movement as far as you possibly can! We’re all in this together.

    • Same to you Cody. The movement is in good hands if people like you will be leading it into the future. ✌🏾✌🏾

  5. Video quality was good, content GREAT, and delivery very fitting to your audience there and here! Wish I was there. Is there some gathering in Atlanta that pulls a similar crowd to CampFI SE? Hope to meet you (and others) nearby so I can chat a bit about handling unsavvy ancestors and spreading the sanity that’s FIRE.

    • Hi and thanks for the comment. Between the ChooseFI and FinCon Atl groups there are regular meetups of FIRE fanatics. Hope to meet you at one of the events.

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