Camp Gritty / Cornbread (Vegan)

Imagine a place full of color. Colorful clothing, colorful scenery, colorful people. A campground in the woods of Tennessee sparkling with glitter, laughter, and tears. A drama-free zone where you can let go of the shyness within, wiggle out your nerves (literally, wiggle), and feel free to be yourself for  perhaps, the first time in your adult life. There is no judgement, just ears ready to listen to the voices that deserve to be heard. We were the weird art girls who sat in the corner in high school, we were the ones who were teased, isolated, and hurt. We were told we weren't good enough, skinny enough, curvy enough, strong enough, loud enough. We are the girls of gritty, and we are freakin' beautiful.

About two weeks ago, I attended a summer camp in Tennessee called Camp Gritty, and I've been mildly obsessed with it ever since. (Mildly is an understatement).

It's been incredibly hard to find the words enough to explain gritty to my friends and family who have seen bits and pieces of camp on my social media feeds. To be truthful, there will never be a proper way to describe the magic that happened at Fall Creek Falls, but I'm going to do my best here.

(The video below by Lauren Schroer serves as a fantastic visual explanation).

Camp Gritty is an adult summer camp for 18-35 year old women/non-binary/female-identifying individuals to gather in a safe place that promotes friendship, self love, and creativity. It's a bully-free community of amazingly talented, beautiful women who come together to make friends, make things, make funny faces, and dance just because we can. 

Together, we explored the beauty of Fall Creek Falls and all of it's creepy, crawly creatures, jumped off wood-plank diving boards into swimming holes, showered under waterfalls, got tattoos, upcycled our clothes, made backpacks for foster children, dyed our clothes and hair, had dance parties, endured the preciousness of vulnerability during a talent show, and ate the most delicious vegan camp food known to man (shout out to the kitchen staff!). 

Upon our arrival to camp, we received a recipe booklet full of each camp recipe. I don't think any of us realized how useful this would be in soothing post-camp blues. It's been two weeks since I left camp and I've made about half the recipes in this booklet, one of which, is cornbread: 

Skillet Cornbread (Vegan)
Makes 9 servings
Recipe lightly adapted from:

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds 
6 tablespoons water
1 cup all purpose flour 
1 cup cornmeal 
1/4 cup sugar 
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup non-dairy milk
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 jalapeño, chopped 
extra cornmeal
vegan butter

  1. Preheat over to 425 degrees. 
  2. Place an 8" skillet in the oven for at least 10 minutes to pre-heat. (If you aren't using a skillet, grease and line an 8" baking pan).
  3. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the ground flax seed, reduce the heat to medium-low, simmer the flax seed in the water for 5 minutes or until thickened. Set aside. 
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and pepper. 
  5. Add the flax seed mixture, milk, and oil to the flour mixture. Beat just until smooth.
  6. Grease the hot skillet with oil and turn the batter into it. Sprinkle cornmeal over the batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes. 
  7. Coat with a thin later of vegan butter. 

(Below you'll find a video made by the lovely Alex Molina). 

Returning home from camp made for a difficult transition. I kinda forgot that it wasn't widely accepted to cover your cheeks in glitter and stick out your tongue at strangers. I immediately felt lost without my fellow grits and sort of annoyed with the fact that I'd have to start showering again. 

However, something amazing happened. As I gradually adapted to the world outside of camp, I found myself feeling more accepting and patient toward others. I smiled more at work and felt lighter, happier, and whole. There's this feeling I think we can all relate to when we have a new person in our lives that we look forward to seeing and are grateful to have around. Most of the time, for me, the person who sets off this spark of joy is a boy whom I have a huge liking for. For the first time (ever), I felt this heart-fluttering feeling not because I couldn't wait to see my crush, but because I seriously look forward to being reunited with my friends. Believe it or not, it only took 5 days of summer camp to go from feeling a scary amount of loneliness to gaining a support system of lifelong friends. And just like that, "I don't feel so alone."

I'd like to thank Charlavail, Sam, and all of their wonderfully talented friends for making camp the most amazing and unforgettable experience of my life. Until next year, and of course, Long live the grit. 💖


  1. I am moved to tears as I read your post and watch the videos! I love seeing the perspective of Gritty from someone other than my daughter! I hope all of you share this post with your families! Profound seems to be the word for Camp Gritty! I wish I had an experience like this when I was your age - I would definitely have been changed for the better!

    1. I love that my writing about Gritty and all of it's magic touched you. I hope your daughter is able to spread the spirit of camp to you. We all have a little grit in us whether we went to camp or not, so let that grit shine! ♡

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