Into the Wild Photo Camps Travel Guide 

If you love the combination of adventure, outdoors, and national parks, Into the Wild Photo Camps are your opportunity to re-discover your inner wild woman ! In this guide and podcast episode, we take you inside an Into the Wild photo camp retreat, where you’ll get out and experience nature like you never have before. Join activities with other women, such as hiking, rock climbing, snowboarding, camping, and shooting the Milky Way, to build life-long friendships and memories. 

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Into the Wild Photo Camps

Into the Wild Photo Camps – which are more like retreats since we don’t stay actually stay in tents – are designed to get women together to find themselves again via outdoor adventures. Some of them are just a weekend, like the Southern Utah National Park series in Arches or Zion or Yosemite. Those are 3 or 4 days long. And some of them are a full week because it takes a while to get to the location, like Hawaii, Mexico, and soon Iceland. 

Most of the National Park retreats in the US are based in parks such as Yosemite, Arches, Zion, Canyonlands, etc. 

The target audience is women above 18-years old. They come from all walks of life, all professions, mothers, non-mothers, people interested in photography in general, but that’s not necessary. These are definitely not geared toward the pro-photographer, but there are quite a few professionals who also come. The best part is seeing all of these women, who at first glance may have nothing in common, but by the time the retreats are over, they are friends for life and keep in touch year after year!

Why Specifically Women for Into the Wild Photo Camps?

The camps are geared toward women because they tend to often be overlooked on solo or adventure trips. There’s a stigma that women must travel with their families, or have to have some kind of partner. And that’s just not right. Or, many times, women go with the flow of whomever they are traveling with. For example, family vacations, and don’t end up doing what they’d really like to do. They lose themselves in life. They have so much focus on helping everyone else succeed – it almost becomes part of their identity.

So what ends up happening during these camps is that women discover, “oh wow! I actually love kayaking or rock climbing!” They discover that they want to get back to themselves; to what makes them tick, and succeed, and bloom. The aim of the camp is to be a jumping-off point for a new beginning for women.

How National Parks Play a Major Role for Into the Wild Photo Camps 

Everybody loves National Parks! They are places with a great concentration of amazing things to see, and they already have established, successful ways to view and experience everything relatively easily. There are rangers there to help with safety, questions, etc. The locations chosen as National Parks are chosen for a reason – they are gems that everyone should see! Into the Wild retreats have been in Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, and Yosemite, and more. 

Favorite National Park to hold a retreat: Jasper National Park in Canada. The sites and wildness are so beautiful and breathtaking. The Canadian Rockies are so wild that many times you can hike without anyone around. 

How do I Plan for an Into the Wild Photo Camp?

After you sign up for a camp or retreat, you will be provided with a list of what to pack and bring, considering that each destination requires different items. It is seriously so different for each retreat, but the basic staples are the same.

It also depends on the season – what each participant needs to bring. Everyone is also provided with a swag bag, full of goodies they can either use on the trip or things they can enjoy and use to remember the trip at home. For example, once in the Moab swag bag, each person received a Macro extension tube for participants’ DSLR cameras because we were doing an Intro to Macro Photography lesson. The women loved that!

What can I expect to do at an Into the Wild Photo Camp? 

A typical day, from morning to night looks a bit different depending on the location, but we normally start with yoga for those who want to attend in the morning. There is always a yoga teacher available who professionally leads us through a flow. This is followed by breakfast, usually home-cooked and packed full of the good stuff to get us through the adventurous day ahead. 

At this point, a photography lesson that lasts about an hour is given, and then we head out for our first adventure – usually a long hike, and sometimes a kayak float. 

We then return to the camp, have a homemade lunch by a cook or catering, and have another short lesson such as composition or beginning LightRoom. We then head out again for another adventure, depending on location, and meet again for dinner or have the dinner packed in lunchboxes to enjoy picnic-style. 

Learning about night photography or Milky Way photography is also integrated into these lessons, which is most people’s favorite class! We then relax until the milky way appears in the sky – sometimes not until 3 am – and head off on a night hike to capture some amazing shots. 

The days can be long and packed with awesome things to do, but I’ve never heard a complaint about it being too rigorous or demanding. And people always have the option to stay back and relax if they aren’t feeling it.

What will I learn about photography?

The retreats are deemed photo-adventure retreats because I love, love, love teaching people how to use their cameras in the best, most effective way. I usually do an intro to manual class, a night photography class, and have some mini-classes stuck in there, too. And, I usually ask beforehand what topics people might want me to cover. 

I find that learning how to take photos can be more difficult for women – just because it’s hard to find a teacher who will actually show how to do it, rather than just lecturing about the principles and numbers – it can be mathematical. Most women don’t like that approach – they like to be taught and shown and then practice. At the retreats, I am there to answer any and all questions as they come up. 

And you don’t need a DSLR to learn a lot of what I teach. Women have come with iPhones before, and for the night photo segment, I let them use my cameras.

Hiking Tips during an Into the Wild Photo Camp

The number one hiking tip is to figure out shoes beforehand. Many times, people who don’t like hiking just don’t have the right shoes and aren’t used to walking long distances. We all know that the wrong shoes can be downright painful. So for these retreats, people should have broken-in hiking shoes and get used to them beforehand.  

One thing that can affect people at these retreats is altitude! Many of the women live at sea level, and sometimes even the fittest are shocked at how the altitude affects them on hikes. So that’s something to be aware of. 

Hiking poles can be great, although not necessary, and sunblock is a MUST! 

Hiking is all about the views and snacks! 

Favorite Hike Tips: Everyone loves the Delicate Arch hikes in Arches, which is stunning! In Yosemite, the Panorama Hike is amazing and the views knock you off your feet. In Zion, the Angels Landing Hike is a fan favorite as well as the Narrows Hike, as you walk through a river surrounded by canyon walls. 

Will I learn wildlife photography during the retreat?

The photography taught is mostly just landscapes. We do see animals, and on those occasions, we take tons of pictures! A lot of elk, bears, deer, small animals, and more. But wildlife photography is not specifically taught during the retreats.

Lodging during the Into the Wild Retreats

It can vary, but the majority of the time we stay in very large mansion-type homes just outside the national park. Since this is a home, though, rooms, bathrooms, and everything is shared – except beds. Everyone eats together in the kitchens, and we hang out together like a big family. Sometimes we are in a hotel situation and this August we are trying out the most adorable little series of campers in the woods.

Do Not Miss Moment from the Camps

This is a tough one! My favorite thing that happens every single retreat is the initial show-up. Everyone arrives shy and reserved, and within one hour, everyone is best friends. We all help each other loosen up, friendships are formed, and the rest is just so serendipitous. The other do not miss moment is when women see the Milky Way for the first time. It’s a magical moment. 

Favorite Into the Wild Photo Camp Activities 

Rock climbing is a popular activity – some of the best views of National Parks are from the side of the wall! And of course, hiking is a favorite one as well. But most of the women really enjoy the night photography lessons and spending time and getting to know each other. 

Favorite Story from an Into the Wild Retreat 

“I like to give motivational speeches near the end of each retreat. Usually, the topic is something that I find to be rather helpful to all women regardless of what their life circumstances are. At one camp, I gave a speech about how, as women, we need to stop criticizing ourselves and bonding over negative self-talk. There was a lot more to it, but by the end, many women were crying. They just felt so happy to be understood and hopeful that the future would be happier because their self-esteem would be much improved! It was a really special moment.” – Wendy

Upcoming Into the Wild Photo Camps

There are many retreats on the horizon, and the best way to check what’s coming up is on their website. Trips such as Santorini, Greece; Iceland; Peru; Hawaii; Banff and Jasper National Parks; and more! There are so many amazing retreats coming up. 

About Our Featured Guest:

Wendy is a photographer, climber, snowboarder, and triathlete who loves to meet new people, travel, and play. She has been a family portrait photographer for 14 years and has traveled to over 22 countries, taking family portraits. Her passion for teaching photography is only surpassed by her passion for being outside with friends and family. One day, she came up with the idea, “why not make a business of it.” So that’s exactly what she did! Her Photo Camps are incredible opportunities for women to rediscover the wonder and beauty of earth’s nature, gain the experience of Photographing Nature’s wildness, and enjoy this with other women. She can be found on IG: @intothewildphotocamp and @bluelilyphoto

National Trippers Podcast

Did you know we also have a podcast all about Into the Wild Photo Retreats? Get ready for even more awesomeness and hidden gems by listening to this episode. 

Published by Maureen Hochdorf

Writer. Editor. High Techi. Non-Profit Founder. Traveler. Sports Lover. Star Wars Fanatic. Tel Aviver. Michigander....

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