Melissa Lee is the founder of The GREEN Program, which curates travel experiences that enable young people to participate in sustainability efforts around the world. When she’s not helping people save the world via GREEN’s immersion programs, she escapes to the beach for camping weekends with her fiancé, Kaz, and their dog, Boris. Below, the Philly-based entrepreneur reveals what she does during her ideal weekend away from the office.
SLEEPING UNDER THE STARS: My favorite weekend getaway is getting out and taking shorter camping trips in the surrounding areas. One of my favorite spots to go is camping on the beach on Assateague Island in Maryland. (It’s where I got engaged as well!) It has white sand beaches, the perfect breeze, wild horses, and it’s dog-friendly—all just a two to three hour drive away from the city. We’ve also gone to the Pine Barrens in New Jersey, just an hour drive away. I love the ability to disconnect with our phones and busy work lives, reconnect with nature, and get back to basics. I always find myself feeling so much more relaxed just after one night out camping.
MEAL PREP: Meal prepping is huge because we camp and cook everything over firewood. A few days before we leave, we marinate all vegetables and food, and organize in baggies so they’re ready to go for their trip. We also settle necessary items for the dog.
PACKING LIST: Marinated, prepped food in cooler, breakfast foods (eggs, bacon, bread), cast iron skillet, tent, sleeping bag, dog necessities.
GETTING THERE: The drive is about three hours. We have a few key stops along the way. Before heading out, we research online if any locals are giving/selling extra firewood (as a way to keep with sustainability and not buy cut down trees). We’ll stop at houses if there is firewood available. If not, we buy from the store. We also stop by DogFish Head Brewery and pick up some beers for the weekend.
ON-SITE: We park the car and make sure the tent is facing the water—it’s nice to wake up and see the water right outside the tent. After everything is set up, we take a long walk on the beach during sunset. If super hot, we take a jump in the water. There’s a lot of alone space on the beach; people are there but it is very private. Then, we come back, crack open a beer and start making dinner. Afterwards, we’ll make s’mores, hang out, sit by the campfire in lawn chairs, and recharge.
READING LIST: I try not to read anything too business-oriented. I just read The Power of Moments, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, about how you create impact through curating powerful moments. We put that same theory to work at the GREEN Program: we engineer moments for students to have this life-changing experience through our excursions.
I’LL NEVER FORGET: The first time we went with Boris, he slept in the tent but was kept on a long rope so he could roam without being too loose. In the middle of the night, I woke up to my fiancé stressed out because Boris was gone. We couldn’t see him because he’s an all-black dog and it was pitch dark outside, and we couldn’t scream out his name because other people were camping around us! All of a sudden, we saw two glowing eyes that looked like a wolf coming at us. It was Boris—back with a plastic bag filled with chocolate cookies from someone else’s campsite!