Mighty Summit 2012

A few weeks ago I flew from NYC – and the HP Designer Matchup reveal – to San Francisco for Mighty Summit. Midway across the country I had an allergic reaction to something in the plane’s air system and spent most of the time gathering tissues from the restroom and hoarding them like a small squirrel. I showed up at SFO to meet a few of my fellow summit goers with rubbed off makeup, a runny nose, and red eyes. HI, I’M KELLY.

Me showing up in dire need of antihistamines and the four of them immediately jumping into action let me know what an incredible group of carefully selected women I was about to spend the next few days with. Go-getters, helpers, doers, sympathizers. We stopped in downtown San Francisco at a Walgreens for tissues, allergy meds, and snacks and drove two hours north to a small town in the Russian River Valley called Guerneville and made our way to Boon Hotel + Spa.


We were the last car to arrive (thanks in part to me) and showed up to a bawdy group of ladies enjoying margaritas and a taco truck that had driven right up into the middle of the resort. Fiesta! Sombreros, handmade piñatas, and Mexican food is now in my Top 10 Welcomes for sure. We were even highly encouraged to grab a “room burrito” for a midnight snack. My kind of people.


Boon itself is gorgeous, tucked into the bottom of a hillside climbing with redwoods and palm trees. All of the rooms surround a common area with a pool, hot tub, and cabana. This is where the majority of time was spent talking, making plans, and wining. Tough to beat considering the always clean orange beach towels and stacks of magazines.

We were paired up in our rooms with someone who was most likely a stranger on Friday and a good friend come Monday. My roommate was Kristin Appenbrink of Real Simple, a girl with a plan that one.


Besides the hotel and spa, the owners of Boon are also proprietors of Boon Eat + Drink and Big Bottom Market. They provided almost all of our food and it was incredible. For real. As in there wasn’t one thing I shoved into my pie hole that wasn’t an A+++. Ask me about the yogurt that was more like custard some time. Or the curry chicken salad sandwich. Or the polenta lasagna. Or just visit and try it all yourself.


After a pajama-filled breakfast around the pool Saturday morning, we headed to Moshin Vineyards to get a little insight into winemaking and tasting. We saw the sorting process, tried the grapes (SUPER sweet), and witnessed some bottling in the works.


Then we stood outside on a gorgeous day trying about six different wines for ourselves. All before noon.


But everyone knows that one winery isn’t nearly enough, so we headed down the road to VML. To say the grounds were well manicured would be an understatement, there were flowers literally everywhere you turned. And lawn Jenga. We settled in at picnic tables mere feet from a lilypad-covered pond for lunch. And a little more wine tasting, naturally.


This is what I look like while listening. And this is what I look like with Rena Tom.


After some down time (or work time or nap time, depending on who you might ask), we gathered for a relaxed dinner.


Nights and mornings were downright cold, and a well-stoked fire was welcome. There were even s’mores, but I think everyone was too stuffed with food and alcohol to enjoy any.



Boon was actually named after the owners’ dog, a nine year old boxer/lab/pit bull mix who made his rounds daily to say hello to all of the ladies before retiring to the chaise of his choosing. A rough life by any standards.


Sunday was the big day, the punctuation mark on the trip. After walking the trails through Armstrong Redwoods we gathered for lunch and Life Lists. Before we ever made our way to Mighty Summit we were all tasked with creating our own list of goals, everything from the easily attainable (plant a lilac bush) to the extreme (hug Oprah). Now we were asked to choose five items off our list that we wanted to accomplish in the next 12 months, asking the group for help achieving one of them.

There’s a reason this is one of the last activities, after having a few days to get to know one another. I’d liken it to a verbal trust fall. You’re putting a lot on the table and it can get emotional. And afterwards? You feel drained and exhausted and awesome.


And a lot like you just entered the best club ever. And then you risk your lives climbing on a fallen centuries old redwood tree and you do evil laughs for the sake of photography.


Sunday night we all gathered for our celebratory farewell dinner in downtown Guerneville at Big Bottom Market. Our hosts, Maggie Mason and Laura Mayes , said a few words about Mighty Summit and why they put it on every year and then we each received a necklace with five small gold rings on it. One for each of our goals.


I left Might Summit with a better sense of self than I’ve had in quite some time. Goals clearly outlined, plans written down, proposals in the works. All thanks to Maggie and Laura who thought it would be a great idea to start an annual retreat for women in media, who might combine their awesome powers when together and create something bigger.

If all of this sounds amazing, you should definitely consider attending the on steroids version – Camp Mighty – that’s taking place November 15-17 in Palm Springs, CA.

Also? We took lots of good free stuff home, you can try your hand at winning a bag full of it too!


Attendees: Amber Doty – The Daily Doty | Anne Sage – The City Sage | Catie Nienaber – Cuffington | Christine Koh – Boston Mamas | Dana LaRue – The Broke-Ass Bride | Elizabeth Stark – Brooklyn Supper | Fiona Tang | Jessica Zollman | Jessie Char – Char* | Jordan Ferney – Oh Happy Day! | Kate Nicholson – Modern Baby | Katherine Stone – Postpartum Progress | Kathleen Shannon – Jeremy and Kathleen | Kristin Appenbrink – Real Simple | Lily Stockman – bigBANG Studio | Maggie Shipstead – author | Maile Wilson – Epiphanie Bags | Meg Biram – MIMI + MEG | Meredith Sinclair – HOO-DEE-HOO | Rena Tom | Sarah Bryden-Brown – blogstarSarah Lane | Sarah Urquhart  – Alt Summit | Stephanie Brubaker – stephmodo | Tiffani Jones Brown

Sponsors: Lands’ End, boon hotel + spa, Mixed Bag Designs, Tieks, Lemonade Handmade Jewelry, fiestyelleEpiphanie, Wine Sisterhood

Photos by Kelly Beall: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20,
Photos by Maile Wilson: 10, 13, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26

  • Katherine Stone

    September 24, 2012 at 11:38 am Reply

    What a fabulous recap. Absolutely gorgeous. I now I think I will procrastinate and just wander around your site.

  • Kate

    September 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm Reply

    Awesome walking down memory lane with you. Great to meet you there! And I agree with Katherine, I’ll spend some time on your site, too.

  • Boston Mamas

    September 24, 2012 at 12:46 pm Reply

    I want more time with you next time around, luv! Thanks for this beautiful sharing!

  • Amber

    September 24, 2012 at 12:49 pm Reply

    Beautiful recap of a wonderful weekend. It was so nice to meet you and to spend time with you!

  • Addie

    September 24, 2012 at 1:20 pm Reply

    sounds absolutely amazing!

  • Melanie

    September 26, 2012 at 4:55 pm Reply

    I love your write up! I’m going to Camp Mighty for the first time this year and I’m so excited. I love the energy that being around a group of creative people brings.

    P.S. Hug Oprah is on my list too. 🙂 xo

  • Hotly Spiced

    September 26, 2012 at 5:27 pm Reply

    What a great retreat. It looks like an incredible and productive time. I’ve had a flight like that where my eyes and nose just started watering for no reason. I have no idea what caused it but yes, you arrive at your destination looking rather ordinary.

  • Kelly M

    September 27, 2012 at 11:28 am Reply

    I am lucky enough to live in Sonoma County and so it was a fun surprise to see you were in the area. I just love Armstrong woods. It’s such a beautiful escape. Hope you enjoyed your trip!

  • Maggie Mason

    September 27, 2012 at 5:37 pm Reply

    That was a good read. Thanks so much for coming, it was great having a chance to get to know you a little better, and I can’t wait to see what this next year brings for you.

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