Last week I attended Nail Camp which is a four-day event that combines multiple facets of nail training including business seminars, hands-on classes, competitions and workshops. Under the very capable management of Jessica Briarmoon, Nail Camp USA alternates between Eastern and Western locations. The camp I recently attended in Idaho was this year’s Western event. To relate all the details of Nail Camp USA is beyond the scope of this blog and quite frankly my poor overwhelmed mind. Therefore I recommend you visit www.nailcamp.org for more information regarding the organization and future events. However, I will attempt to relate some of my experiences and what I observed from my perspective.
The Nail Camp West I attended took place at Trinity Pines Camp in chilly Cascade, Idaho (population: 939). There were 85 campers including 16 educators in attendance and lodging was in bunkbed equipped lodges. Classes took place in various meeting rooms and meals were taken in a spacious dining hall/conference center. The mealtimes also featured various raffles and games with the opportunity to win products donated by various sponsors. The games also included “challenges” selected by raffle which basically gave campers the opportunity to lose in a spectacularly embarrassing way. Which of course, yours truly did. The sting of the near fatal embarrassment of the challenge game was however somewhat alleviated by a subsequent raffle win of a very nice prize donated by Footlogix.
Because it was October, there was a Halloween party, complete with costumes. There were dozens of fantastically creative costumes and everyone snapped pictures of each other; some of which are included with this blog. And of course no nail tech gathering would be complete without a bout of power shopping from the sponsors represented. It is fortunate we were advised to leave home with ample empty space in our luggage for all our purchases!
With the large number of educators present, there were multiple classes occurring simultaneously, requiring campers to make hard choices about which classes to take. The classes offered are definitely not entry-level ones and as the sole unlicensed nail school student there I attempted to attend those classes in which I had at least an elementary understanding. (I was also the sole male attendee, but then due to the demographics of nail school I am already accustomed to being the lone thorn surrounded by many roses.) To their credit, every educator was extremely patient and gracious; as were my fellow classmates. I even had the opportunity to be a demonstration model a few times which afforded me a front and center view of educators’ techniques.
The specific classes I attended were:
“Incredible Improvements” – Workshop for improving Salon Nails. The hands-on workshop was led by Lysa Comfort of Charisma Nail Systems and Head Judge Nailympion. I was fortunate enough to be partnered with Monica Alsop, who also served as Lysa’s demonstration model.
“Specialty Shapes” – Covered how to create salon viable specialty shapes. The class was led by Allie Baker, Camp Competition Director and EZ Flow Educator.
“Acrylic Tips, Tricks and Please Don’ts” – Addressed ways to incorporate colored acrylic powder into salon services. This class was also led by Allie Baker. I was fortunate enough to serve as a demonstration model.
“30-Day Manicure” – Jessica Briarmoon, Camp Director and Akzentz Educator, demonstrated a layered technique suitable for most clients and how to troubleshoot various problems. I served as one of the demonstration models.
“Natural Nail Care with an Electric File” – This demonstration and hands-on workshop taught how to do natural nail care with an electric file. The workshop was led by Lysa Comfort.
“C-Curve Gel Sculpting 101” – Demonstration and hands-on workshop on how to sculpt gel nails using specialized c-curve tools. The class was led by Amy Becker of Masterworks. Amy also created an amazing Russian almond shaped nail for me.
One of the many highlights of the four days was the Salon Nails Competition. I did not compete (maybe next time), but I was privileged to serve as the model for competitor Wendy Kerr. This occasion was my first time observing a nail competition in any capacity, and it was a very awe-inspiring experience to say the least. Not only was it a thrill to observe the competition as an event; but more importantly to share that moment in time as an occasion of community. Although it was a competition, it did not always feel that way. Certainly, there was stress in the atmosphere; but there was also a powerful current of joy and sharing.
Before I close, I have to emphasize my gratitude to Jessica Briarmoon, the educators and my fellow campers. I cannot express enough what a wonderful, amazing and magical time I had at Nail Camp. I also want to thank my good friend Vonda Christensen who convinced me to attend despite my many misgivings. (My arm has nearly healed from all the twisting.)
I can’t wait until the next Nail Camp.