Were Having A Party

Expert Advice

Janine Pettit: We're Having A Party

The Sisters on the Fly know how to throw a party! One of the reasons they are so well attended is because of people like Karen Reichert. Karen, sister on the Fly #831 from Illinois, is the party planner for the Midwest Sisters! Karen has the gift of party planning. Karen is a former Legal Assistant (detail oriented!) who traded in her heels and daily rail pass to attend pastry school and then went on to work for the Boy Scouts of America organizing stays at their Michigan Summer Camp. She has taken all of her considerable life skills and put them to good use for the Sisters on the Fly. Her events have waiting lists even when she finds the largest venue possible! This doesn’t surprise me at all because having met Karen several years ago I could tell right away that I would want her on my team if I had to survive in the woods in style for three days. I don’t know anyone else who has ever hosted a peignoir party. I didn’t even know how to spell peignoir. Her ideas and enthusiasm are endless.

Karen’s annual Peignoir Party that she hosts at her weekend home in Indiana each year. It’s homage to our mothers! My mom still wears these!

Karen came to Sisters on the Fly the same way I did, after reading an article in Country Living Magazine about the Sisters. Like me she was “fascinated” by the idea of women vacationing together and towing their own little houses behind them. She read the article several times during the next few weeks soaking in the trailers and the whole bold idea. But with most of the sister trips and members out west, and her life as a single mom in Illinois already full to the brim raising two daughters, the timing just wasn’t right. She placed it on the middle, not back burner, because Karen Reichert is a woman who never says no to seemingly impossible things. A passion had ignited in her. An active Girl Scout leader, she was also independent with a “how to” attitude. She never thought, “I’m not going to be able to join this group.”  She instead began to ask herself how she was going to make this happen.   Her “how to” brain however reasoned that she could recreate such a group in her area someday.

Several years later, remarried and with her daughters about to finish their many years in Girl Scouts, she began thinking about that article again. She was running an errand with her boss from Boys Scouts of America when they passed a vintage trailer for sale on the side of the road. She excitedly told her boss all about this group of women that camped together out west. She took seeing that trailer as a sign to resurrect her idea of creating something similar in her neck of the woods. The juices were flowing and the pot was on the front burner now.

Karen’s costume for the I Love Fall Camping themed party, “Witchy Woman.” Karen was a menopause Witch!

Each year Karen’s job took her to the Boy Scouts Camp in Michigan for the summer. Her husband Rich drove the four hours north each weekend to enjoy time at the camp with Karen as she settled in each new group of campers. One afternoon her boss called her into her office as the incoming group of Scout Leaders were settling in their troops. Karen’s thought was, “What have I forgotten to do?” When she entered the office her boss was so excited to introduce her to a scout mom, a Sister on the Fly from Illinois! Karen was thrilled to discover that although their numbers were relatively low in the Midwest, the group had inched eastward and were now in Illinois.  And… bonus, they were also having a camp out in a few weeks. Karen was invited to come along as a “Sister on the Try.”  Ditching her plan to reinvent the wheel, she signed on immediately.

Karen came home from a full summer at camp with only a week to turn around and plan her trip to meet her new friends in Wisconsin. Her husband Rich, a normally affable guy who cheerleads all of her endeavors, did not want her to go. She was sick with a terrible cold and sinus infection. He thought she was nuts to go out in the woods and sleep in a tent when she was so ill. She was not going to miss this chance though. Their next trip would not be until the following spring.  She conceded to not sleeping in the tent and made up a comfy bed in the back of her SUV! She packed up her meds, her bowl of homemade Tiramisu and her great attitude and hit the road for the 2 ½ hour trip. As she was leaving, Rich leaned in for a kiss goodbye and said, “See you tonight honey!” He was certain she would be back before nightfall!

Some of Karen’s Midwest Sisters out to lunch at her annual President’s Day Weekend gathering in Indiana.

Karen’s Sister on the Try weekend was a total success. She bonded with the ten women she met there. She medicated herself through the rough patches. At one point on Saturday afternoon she told the girls that she just had to leave the campfire and go for a nap in her truck. All the “fun” was wearing her out but she would leave them with a treat. She handed over the bowl of Tiramisu to all the sisters sitting around the fire. Someone ran for spoons and passing the bowl around the fire they finished it off in record time. Karen has a picture of one of the sisters licking the inside of the bowl!! I don’t know about your world but, in the Girl Camper world, wine and desserts are a good way to make friends!! Karen went home on Sunday night and immediately joined the Sisters on the Fly.

Karen and her vintage Shasta all decked out for the Scarecrow decorating contest at I Love Fall Camping.

Some people are natural born cheerleaders and Karen is one of them. People gravitate to her enthusiasm and encouraging nature. If she loves something she wants to share it with everyone. Her light is not under a bushel! As the Sisters on the Fly grew in the Midwest Karen took a leadership role becoming the “Wrangler” for her area. A “Wrangler” helps new sisters get acclimated by helping them source possible trailers, find other sisters in their area, navigate their first few trips and build trailer towing courage for those who need it. Karen being Karen though, took it all a step further and made the trips she planned fundraising successes for the charitable arm of the Sisters on the Fly. By this time, the Sisters on the Fly had partnered with Casting for Recovery to help raise the funds for women recovering from breast cancer to attend fly-fishing weekend retreats.  The action of fly-fishing is very therapeutic for someone recovering from a mastectomy. The women have an opportunity to forget about cancer and take some time to relish the outdoors and heal the spirit while healing the body. It was the perfect charitable match for the Sisters on the Fly.

All the loot collected for the Casting for Recovery Auction, which is a highlight of the weekend.

Each year Karen plans and hosts a trip called, “I Love Fall Camping” at a beautiful state park in Indiana. The first year she did it, five years ago, 14 sisters attended. I will be in attendance this year and will gladly share the photos on my Girl Camper blog. The attendance is at 65 sisters now, which is the campground limit for their covered shelter. The waiting list is long and Karen will have to search for a larger venue to accommodate all those that want to attend. In the last four events Karen has raised over $12,000 for Casting for Recovery.  Her method is brilliant and so easy for sisters to participate in!  She asks everyone to bring all the trailer goodies they are no longer using and they are auctioned off to other sisters. With all the horse-trading among sisters buying and selling each other’s trailers and changing names and decors, a lot of treasures are easily gathered. I know I have a big box going to this year’s auction and I don’t mind parting with it for such a good cause. I can’t wait to catch up with old friends and meet all of my new friends. Thanks to Karen, we’re having a party and everyone will be swinging and dancing to the music on the radio and having such a good time!

The Sister on the Fly motto is, “We have more fun than anyone!” These sweet sisters sure look like they are proving that adage.

Some Witchy Women!

Even the food is fun at Karen’s events. Ding Dong the Witch is dead cookies.

Cocktails for those without fear!



woman posing

Girl Camper

Janine Pettit

Janine Pettit is a lifelong lover of camping who took a 25 year sabbatical when she married a “resort” type guy! She discovered that camping was still in the cards for her when she stumbled onto an article about a women’s outdoor adventure group that travels around the country in RVs, meeting new friends, checking off bucket list adventures and doing things she had only dreamed of. Janine has become an Ambassador for the Girl Camping movement and encourages women to go places and do things in her blog and podcast.