CampFI Southeast 2021 – The Experience
What is CampFI?
CampFI is a 4-day, 3-night weekend event where fans of Financial Independence gather to gain insight, inspiration, and incredible lifelong friendships. CampFI Southeast was held from 8 – 11 January and was the first CampFI held in 2021.
CampFI is short for Camp Financial Independence.
The founder, Stephen Baughier, held the first CampFI event in January of 2017 in Florida.
Since that first CampFI in Florida, these events have expanded to include other locations throughout the United States.
In 2021, CampFI events are scheduled for Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Minnesota, and California. Ticket information can be found at the bottom of this article.
Each event includes lodging and meals in the ticket price. Travel to and from the events are not included. There is a general CampFI Facebook page but each event also has a Facebook page where people can coordinate rides to and from nearby airports.
The events are scheduled from Friday through the following Monday.
What happens at CampFI on Friday?
People arrive Friday afternoon and receive a name tag, get assigned their rooms, and explore the venue.
Many take this time to make small talk and begin getting to know each other.
All meals are included. Dinner is served. It’s fun to watch the energy of the group grow. In only a few hours, the conversations escalate in both passion and volume…in a good way.
Many take advantage of the adult beverages that fellow campers brought to share. It’s just a fun social time for the rest of the night.
The only formal-ish activity on Friday is where we introduce ourselves. I take advantage of this time to take notes on each attendee. This helps me remember names and gives me some potential discussion prompts for the many conversations we’ll have over the weekend.
What kinds of people go to CampFI?
One woman attended a prior CampFI and returned home after that event with so much passion that her spouse wanted to come check it out this year.
Because CampFIs are held in the same locations each year, there are many return visitors. If I were to guess, about thirty percent of the attendees had previously been to a CampFI.
One of the attendees had been going to CampFI Southeast for a number of years and during her introduction she said that so much happens in her life that it felt like CampFI was the most stable part of it. This goes to show just how deep connections are made when you attend a CampFI event.
There were people of all ages. Normally there are at least a few kids or young children in attendance but there was only one child, a seven year old. He understandably was not interested in listening to the presentations but did find a friendly cat. They grew very fond of each other over the weekend.
What Happens at CampFI on Saturday and Sunday?
Saturday and Sunday of CampFI are very similar. Breakfast starts at 8 o’clock and lasts about an hour.
After breakfast, the official Financial Independence presentations begin.
The presenters at CampFI Southeast 2021 were:
- David Baughier (Me) of Fiology – Mentoring in the Financial Independence Community
- Jillian Johnsrud of jillianjohnsrud.com – Is the 4% Rule Holding You Back?
- Diania Merriam of economeconference.com – The Concept of Fi-lexibility
- Mr. Refined of refinedbyfire.co – Six Factors to Enable Your Greatest Goals
- Christine Hughey of the 5 Star Experience Show – Financial Independence Resilience during COVID-19
After the morning presentations comes lunch.
Miss Sarah runs the staff at the CampFI Southeast venue. She and her staff do an excellent job of cooking and serving amazing food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
During past events, there would usually be a salad and food bar with a variety of options. Measures taken to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 included serving individual meals, ordered by and plated for each attendee.
Note: Much like blowing all over the cake to extinguish birthday candles, I personally hope plating food buffet style becomes a thing of the past.
After lunch comes the Breakout Sessions.
What are CampFI Breakout Sessions?
Breakout sessions are informal subject-specific discussions led by the attendees. Because the attendees bring so much knowledge, others get the chance to learn new things or dive deeper into concepts they are interested in.
In comparison to the formal presentations, the breakout sessions are much more laid back and conversational.
The breakout sessions of CampFI Southeast 2021 included:
- How to Teach Kids About Money, Saving & Investing
- How to Make Money Selling Tradelines
- Small Business Entrepreneurship
- Real Estate Investing
Some choose to attend one or both of the day’s breakout sessions, while others enjoy a siesta (perhaps after much socializing the evening prior), or the camp’s extracurriculars. There is no expectation to spend your time one way or another. Just do what you want to do during the afternoons.
While it was uncharacteristically cool in Florida this particular weekend, attendees participated in archery, kayaking, and trail hiking.
Depending on the number of official presentations Stephen has planned for the weekend, there may be a third scheduled prior to dinner.
After dinner, it is social time once again. Board games, karaoke, streaming sports on the projector, enjoying the campfire, and just kicking back and having great conversations last into the night.
What Happens at CampFI on Monday?
Some people may have had to leave on Sunday night. Monday morning starts just like Saturday and Sunday. People mosey into the cafeteria greeting each other, sipping coffee, talking about how great the weekend was and making plans to meet up again soon.
Venue expectations vary but we were able to stay until about noon before heading out. It is a leisurely morning. Most attendees are just chatting and helping clean up and organize the common spaces back to pre CampFI specs.
I took some time on Monday morning to walk through the woods to the lake.
How much does CampFI cost?
Stephen has done a great job at keeping the cost of the events extremely reasonable.
Personal profit is not a primary motive. He started CampFI to help expand and nurture the Financial Independence Community. If he keeps tickets affordable, it will be accessible to more people on the FI spectrum.
Tickets for CampFi Southeast 2021 were $375. There were no upsells or any kind of selling anything during the weekend. There are currently no sponsors for the events.
Those who attend these events walk away wondering how Stephen can hold such an event at these ticket prices. It’s simple. He would rather more people go than line his pockets.
Bottom line is that if you go to a CampFI, you will likely learn something, make a connection, and become motivated in a way that results in much greater value than the price of a CampFI ticket.
What are the amenities like at CampFI Southeast?
You may be wondering if you get your own room. It depends. The venue has recently expanded to provide many more two-person rooms. This is great for couples. This year, there were fewer attendees due to fewer people wanting to travel during these challenging times. I believe those who wanted their own room got it this year but I don’t think this can be guaranteed in years to come.
The rooms themselves each had at least two beds, a private shower, sink, and restroom. There are heating and AC units in each room that you can control. The beds were comfortable, the water hot, and the rooms private enough.
What was CampFI Southeast like in the time of COVID-19?
People are taking precautions. Fewer people came but we still had about thirty attendees. Some commented that they felt they were able to spend more time in deep conversation without feeling the pressure to introduce themselves to what would normally be about fifty other people.
Stephen prefaced the event stating that masks are to be worn within a distance of six feet of each other. This guideline was respected by all attendees. There was no mask shaming or anything negative that I noticed. All seemed to be onboard and acted in accordance with guidance.
Should You Go To CampFI?
You can find a number of CampFI reviews online, just like this one. It may be another venue. More or less people may have attended. The weather may differ from one part of the country to the other. One thing that stays consistent is the value that we receive from attending. Friendships are made. New knowledge is explored. A good time is had by all.
If you feel comfortable traveling, I encourage you to attend CampFI in 2021. Determine if there will be a CampFI near you.
What CampFI events are scheduled for 2021?
- CampFI Southeast 2021 January in Florida
- CampFI Southeast 2021 April in Florida
- CampFI Mid-Atlantic 2021 in Virginia
- CampFI Rocky Mountain 2021 in Colorado
- CampFI Midwest 2021 in Minnesota
- CampFI Southwest 2021 in Southern California
CampFI Southeast 2021 was my first CampFI in about a year and a half. It was my first opportunity to speak at a CampFI event. I’m grateful for the opportunity and I hope most got something from it. But, to be clear, it isn’t the presentations themselves that attendees walk away from wishing they can have more of. It is spending time with others who share similar perspectives on the world. It was wonderful to see friends and catch up.
I look forward to meeting you there sometime soon.
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