“I first heard of the CMG in 1993. A good friend of mine pitched it to me, and it took him 13 years of selling it to me to finally go. I decided to register for the Spring Gathering in 2006, after moving to LA from the Bay Area a few months beforehand. I felt at home in the CMG community, so much so that I ended up joining the planning committee the following year and have been volunteering ever since. This was a game changer for me. My only regret was taking 13 years to attend!”
~ Michael Kramer
“I was hesitant to sign up for the event because I have always seen CMG events but I did not know anyone who went. Once I signed up, I felt relieved because I was assigned a buddy. Andy, my buddy, literally went through a checklist of everything that I needed. We talked right up to the minute before I got on the road to get to the camp.
I felt so uncomfortable at first because I didn’t know anyone, but the guys at check-in helped me feel comfortable. I felt so welcomed. Then I made friends with my bunkmates. We shared meals throughout the whole weekend. The Men of Color Breakfast was very stimulating. I made some good friends.
My favorite events were the community assemblies and the bonfire. I had some really great heart to heart conversations under the stars with some of the men I met. It was awesome! At the end of the weekend, I attended the newcomers’ debrief. I felt so moved to help that I decided I wanted to be more involved in the group.
Now I’m on the Planning Committee for the gathering that starts in just a few weeks (May 24th, Memorial Day Weekend). It’s been great being on the team. I’m getting to know the great men who are working together to invent a weekend that will include something for everyone. If you’ve been thinking about coming but haven’t decided, just go for it! It would be nice to meet you and I’d love to meet you there!”
~ Marco Ramirez
I’ve always been somewhat of an introvert. The type of guy that has a handful of very close friends rather than tons of friends that are just more of an acquaintance. Like most people, as I got older and life became busier, I found it harder and harder to make new friends. This was fine, as I had my small group of friends that really were amazing. That is until I found myself needing to relocate for work.
My partner and I found ourselves in a new city, where we knew no one. My partner and I worked very different schedules (I had a typical Monday through Friday 7-3 job, he worked evenings, nights and weekends). I found myself with a LOT of free time with nothing to do. I was starting to feel more and more disconnected, and feeling very lonely. To add to my feeling of being disconnected, I work from home 4 days a week, so my opportunities to go out and meet new people were very limited.
I remembered seeing a booth for CMG at San Diego pride several years earlier. Now thinking I need to do something to meet new people and feel more connected with other like-minded men, I did a quick Google search for their website. I discovered they had a Gathering coming up soon and decided to attend.
I attended my first CMG Spring Gathering in 2017. I know it might seem cliché, but I was hooked. Honestly, knowing me, and my personality, I did not have high hopes, but opened my mind and decided to give it a shot and try to make the best of it. I decided not only would I attend, but I would also volunteer to help set up camp. I arrived early and started to feel the nerves of facing something unknown bubbling to the surface. I gave myself a quick pep talk, and went for it.
I was immediately greeted by friendly faces that made me feel so welcome. This was something that happened throughout the weekend. Everywhere I turned, there was someone looking to get to know me. The feeling I felt throughout the weekend is a bit indescribable… the closest I can come is just “joy.” Every aspect of this weekend just brought complete joy to my life. I left camp forever changed by my experiences. I had made some amazing new friends and acquaintances, had some incredible experiences and returned home feeling happy and centered for the first time in a long time. My partner even remarked several times about how much happier I seemed. I had such a transformative experience at that gathering that before I left, I expressed my desire to volunteer for the next Spring Gathering Committee – and here I am!
Hugs, Jack Lanzillo
Would you like to share about your first time at a Gathering? Write it up and send it to Clay K. at firstname.lastname@example.org!