Full Circle Hoop Camp {Flow Retreat}

Full Circle Hoop Camp {Flow Retreat} Hoop Dance Photographer Rachael Lust So. Full Circle Hoop Camp happened last week. Im preparing to leave for my trip to Utah tonight, and as I sit here, I don’t know what to write. I have been thinking about this post for days, even thinking about the exact phrases I would use. But I don’t know where to start. And I think apart of it might be that I know once I post this… it’s written, it’s done. There’s no more uploading, theres no more editing, theres no more having to thinking about what to write. And I’m not ready to be finished with Full Circle. But life is moving along a little too quickly and tomorrow I’ll be on to the next exciting thing.

It’s so hard to put into words what you feel and experience at a flow retreat. Your heart is always over-pouring with pure joy. Even in the moments where you feel a deep hurt from hearing your new friends’ stories. The moments where you feel nervous right before meeting a bunch of new people. And even in the moments where you feel raw fear because you’re about to spin fire for the first time. At Full Circle Hoop Camp, we experienced the widest range of emotions together. But the one we felt the hardest was joy. Seeing old friends from all over the world, meeting new ones from places where you didn’t have friends before, we all shared this experience together. We are all connected through this wonderful, inspiring, experience. And we all have Rachael Lust to thank.

Our week at Full Circle Hoop Camp started with settling in to our cabins and exploring our home for the next several days. And it wasn’t long after that we all gathered for Open Circle in the field. And the talk of the town was the “Big Surprise” that was put on the schedule at the last minute. As I was walking into the dining hall before dinner, I looked to my right and saw a man hop out of the car, clearly trying to hide his face. I got a glimpse of him, and thought to myself… “No. No way. Is the King of Hoop in our presence?!” And he certainly was.

Baxter walked in to the dining hall and everyone lost their damn minds. That night, we all gathered in our new hoop space for the first time. Baxter sat above us and we all listened as he spoke words of wisdom and inspiration straight into our souls. And lucky for us, his words floated in our space throughout the week, reminding us all to accept, honor, and live in our authentic place.

I could walk through our whole daily routine, but in short, yoga in the morning, breakfast in the dining hall, followed by two workshops, lunch, two workshops, dinner, followed by night time flow jam. And from an outside perspective, that was all it was. But inside each planned activity, were moments upon moments upon moments that brought us all together. To single out one of my favorite moments, I have to single out Patty, the Camp Marengo Director. She started her week with an outside perspective. I can only imagine what its like to have your space invaded with a bunch of brightly colored, always smiling, weirdos who like to play with hula hoops.

Throughout our days, we would see her a little bit here and little bit there, and we slowly started getting to know her. And on the second night, Patty stopped by our late night hoop jam with her grandson, Levi, who was always helping her out with anything she needed around the venue. We welcomed her with open arms and a giant hoop for her to try out. We were SO glad she was here. That night, Patty got a big glimpse into our lives – our reasons for being here. We were all here for connection and for support. On the second night of Full Circle Hoop Camp, both her and Levi became apart of the hoop dance community! And unfortunately for them, they’re stuck with us whether they like it or not.

There are so many more parts that I want to talk about, but I know if I stay here too long, I’ll be here forever. On Thursday, the fourth day of the retreat, I took a little break from working. I didn’t upload, I didn’t edit. I took a break for myself to replenish the tank. And it was my favorite day of Full Circle. Packed full of events from start to finish, and I’m so glad I took the time to participate. The first half of the day started like every other, breakfast, workshops, lunch, workshops. But before dinner, we all got to spend time with Katie Sunshine and her famous paint hoops! 5 years ago, Katie had an idea of drilling holes in her hoop and filling it with paint. She brought those hoops with her and we collectively painted a masterpiece!

The energy was the highest it had been this week. Everyone was getting drenched in paint, dancing in the sun, and watching the blank canvas come to life. The photos from our Paint Jam make me SO happy. Not only because Katie Sunshine is my Hoop Mama (the first hooper to inspire me), but because it was such a unique experience. Of all the hoop retreats I’ve photographed, the Paint Jam was hands down one of the best parts of all of them! Katie cut the canvas up so we each had a piece of our experience to take home with us. And I for one will be framing my little masterpiece as a reminder of the time I spent with each and every one of these amazing hoopers.

Photography is my passion (with hooping coming in at a close second!), but in the “real world”… it’s still my job. And you know how jobs can be, day in and day out. I truly love it, and I find joy in it, but it’s still a job, you know? And over the past several years, I’ve learned that running my own business means that I’m not doing it for me, I’m doing it for my clients. I’m expected to shoot a certain way, edit a certain way, ACT a certain way, and it can be very mentally & physically draining some days. Hoop retreats are my play time. They are the farthest thing from work to me. They’re where I get to experiment, be myself, and do what I want to do. Hoop retreats are where I can experience my true photography flow and I will always be grateful to be apart of them.

And lastly, to all of you amazing hoopers, THANK YOU. Thank you for showering me and the photos with so much love. It means the world to me that you appreciate these images. Thank you all so much for being apart of the very first Full Circle. And thank you for welcoming me into your space as I clicked away with my camera. It was an HONOR meeting you, flowing with you, and documenting the collective experience. I can’t say enough about how grateful I am. I am feeling more inspired than I have in the past 4 years. And ooooooh does it feel good! Giving virtual hugs to every single one of your right now and can’t wait to see you all again someday!

Baxter, thank you so much for being there to start our week off the right way.
Veronica, Mindy, & Rhonda, thank you for supporting Rachael with all your heart and helping the week run so smoothly!
Instructors – Morgan, Lee, Katie, Anah, Hannah, Jean, Jennifer, Zach, Jasmine, Nicole, Heather, Kalyani, Rhonda, & Rachael, thank you for your hard work & dedication to your flow. You are each such a huge inspiration to all of us!
Patty & the camp staff, thank you so much for providing the most beautiful space for us, and in the most unsuspecting of places for that matter.
And lastly, Rachael. Thank you so much for ALL of this. Thank you for seeing it through even during some hard times. It wouldn’t have happened without you and you have put yet another mark on the hoop community. We are so grateful for you and we can’t wait to support Full Circle 2.0!

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