Escape Adulthood Summit 2012 Recap (with Pictures!)

“When your heart speaks, take good notes.”

That quotation spoke loudly to me and Kim when we were in Alaska last fall. That’s when we decided to go ahead and host our first Escape Adulthood Summit. A live event was something we’d talked about for a long time, but we were held back back by a lot of preconceived notions and, frankly, fear.

What if no one wanted to come? What if it flopped? What if we lost a lot of money?

We tend to regret the things we don’t do way more than the things we do, so we decided to listen to our hearts and give it a go.

I am happy to report that it exceeded all of our expectations.

We spent a lot of time talking, brainstorming, and planning. We wanted to bring together like-minded people and unleash their shared childlike spirit. We wanted to affirm them, inspire them, and create an atmosphere where they would inspire each other. Our goal was to infuse it with as much magic as possible.

The thing that probably touched me the most was when I stopped to consider how much trust was involved in the decision to come. I mean, we sold it as something not to miss and worked hard to make it great, but when you’ve never done anything like it before, all people have to go on is your word and their belief in you. Looking out into the eyes of thirty people from all over the country who gave up a weekend of their lives, plunked down their hard-earned money, and in some cases bought plane tickets to be a part of the Summit was so incredibly humbling.

Fortunately, it turned out great. It really was an event that was equal parts conference, retreat, and mastermind group. There was deep laughter, heartfelt tears, gripping stories, surprising aha!s, profound insights, and probably too much sugar. Yes, definitely too much sugar.

Here are a few highlights:

We were guided in our planning by the credo to “Wonka-ize” the typical conference. Naturally, we thought it would be appropriate for me to dress up as Willy Wonka and surprise the Golden Ticket-toting attendees with an opening ribbon cutting ceremony. (Thanks to the Bubble Man for contributing bubbles for everyone and the scissors engraved with the date!)

After the ribbon cutting ceremony, we kicked things off with a Kids Wine and Cheese Curds Social.

The centerpieces are alive! Each table was decked out with a live goldfish, several cans of Play-Doh, old-fashioned candy and swag bags stuffed with a t-shirt, a copy of Cheap Family Fun, and other neat stuff, like mustache straws and balloon racers.

It was so cool to see how quickly connections were made, which was a testament to the open-mindedness and big-heartedness of everyone there.

The popular Show & Tell sessions — yes, we had Show & Tell — allowed everyone a chance to show off some treasured items and unusual skills.

Kim and I brought our kids for Show & Tell.

The table groups each worked together to create an “escape vehicle” for their goldfish using a mystery box filled with materials such as pasta and paper towel tubes.

Here’s one of the impressive feats of noodle-fortified engineering!

Breakfast featured a cereal bar stocked with fruit, Easter eggs, and toppings like nuts, raisins…

…and Lucky Charms marshmallows!

Some people had fun playing with our “Pick Your Nose” cups.

It was so refreshing to be in the company of people who don’t take themselves too seriously. If only the whole world could be that way!

I enjoyed jumpstarting some discussions on Life Balance, Small Rebellions and The Rules That Don’t Exist.

For lunch, eating dessert first was encouraged, and each table was presented with a retro lunchbox filled with homemade mini whoopie pies.

Dessert was followed by a build-your-own gourmet PB&J bar, with fresh-baked bread, creamy and chunky peanut butter, locally sourced jellies, bananas and…BACON!

Of course, there was recess. Complete with bubble blowing, walks along the pond, and kite flying!

On Saturday afternoon, everyone was encouraged to submit a topic for discussion and we spent a couple hours crowdsourcing tips, ideas, and strategies. Topics ranged from “How do you make your workplace more fun?” to “How do you deal with the Adultitis-ridden people in your life?”

Attendees were surprised with a mid-afternoon snack.

Old friendships were strengthened and new friendships were made. We had two sets of sisters, seven couples, and two women who’d been friends since kindergarten!

The weather cooperated nicely, allowing us to spend a little bit of time outside sharing ideas and insights from the weekend.

A few hours before the Summit kicked off, our friend Michael reminded us that you only get one chance to experience something for the first time. With that in mind, Kim and I tried hard to be present in every moment. It was an experience that neither of us will ever forget, and it was definitely one of the best things I’ve ever been a part of in my whole life.

We couldn’t have done it without the help of our super sidekicks Sue & Jenna, and we certainly couldn’t have done it without the trust of the thirty people who said yes to a new adventure. Although we need a little time to reflect and recuperate, we are DEFINITELY doing this again.

To those of you who made the journey with us, and to those of you who rooted us on from afar…thank you.

And remember: The next time your heart speaks, listen good. Your story is about to get a bit more exciting.

P.S. Like the pictures? Here’s more.

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  1. Sarah says:

    Congratulations! Well done!
    Thank you so much!

  2. What a great write-up. Most pictures are worth 1,000 words… these are priceless! Thank you Kim & Jason for saying YES to your little idea that grew into a great big full-fledged amazing weekend full of incredible moments and unforgettable scenes! Now that I’m coming down from my sugar high I’m able to reflect with a clear head and I’ll testify that the weekend was indeed magical and something that is not to be missed!

  3. Truly remarkable, and thanks for writing all about it. Conference organisers should learn from you guys and inject some FUN into their whiz bang events.

    Congratulations! Enjoy the unique and amazing experience you created and the friends you have made :)

  4. How awesome! It looks like you all had a blast. I LOVE the nose cups. Thanks for sharing your adventure.

  5. Hey Kim and Jason, I thought this might appeal to you. Just a short Vi Hart clip about googly eyes.

  6. Best investment in joy that I’ve spent in a long time!

  7. Jacki Rocklewitz says:

    I am still thinking about it! Thank you for creating a weekend for us to play while we learned. Another step forward on my journey to live FULLY ALIVE.

  8. What an amazing story…one that will be told, and told, and told again.

  9. Lundee Amos says:

    Awesome week-end!! I treasure the people that I met and the fun times we ALL had. Many thanks to Jason and Kim for orchestrating a fabulous FUN workshop.
    Keep creating and smiling,
    P.S. Moments that I will remember with a light heart!

  10. I missed it and I’m so bummed! It looks like you all really enjoyed the simpleness of it. No stress at that party.


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