And just like that, one week is down! What an experience it has been at that. A week full of emotion, shock, adaptability and introduction to individuals from all walks of life. An emotional rollercoaster filled with despair, hopelessness, optimism, and denial. Once I was escorted to the camp, I knew that my life has changed for now. Dave, the docile older man, walked me to a dusty corridor and into a large, military barrack with 90+ bunks lined in 4 rows, 9 communal showers, 10 toilets, and 6 urinals. I was given a quick intro to my bunkie ‘V’, an intimidating yet friendly fella. ‘Welcome to the house, ‘bud’ he stated.’the following are the house rules – no shoes under the bed, shower once a day and be silent in the morning’ he proceeded to say in a polite yet serious tone. I was immediately shocked by the level of hospitality across other inmates, I was given a ‘welcome pack’ filled with shower slippers, soap and other basic toiletry items. I was issued a military style locker to place my items, 5 feet high and 20 inches wide. I looked across the horizon in the barack and saw faces from all walks of life, new reality. Doctors, lawyers, politcians, top Hollywood producers and even millionaires..heck, I even met a former government agent. Breakfast at 6am, lunch at 10am and dinner at 4pm is the food schedule. I walk into the cafeteria and immediate nostalgia I get, it’s as though I’m back at my 6th grade cafeteria. ‘Chicken or beef?!’ yells the cafeteria worker which consists of other inmates. I opt for the beef. I was amazed at the portion of the servings but felt less than favorable with the taste. Wilted salad, chewy slices of beef and canned veggie mix, it was enough to keep me full. Back on the bus I go to my camp. Many have reached out and asked how life is or how do I create a life in a federal prison camp – The answer is, it’s in the hands of the individual. I’ve seen inmates sleep their term away, I know of an inmate who is creating a business plan to franchise his successful retro arcade store, an inmate that is self-publishing his 3rd book, and an inmate who learned mandarin while behind the gates. I’ve seen inmates cry and i’ve seen others give amazingly powerful speeches on how to turn this time around. While in the SHU, the inmate next to me cried and yelled for his wife, I started to meditate into a very deep state amidst deep desperation. You have to power through if you want to thrive in this environment. My mentor Michael Santos once told me, ‘Robert, you’re going into an environment where hopelessness and negativity run rampant, you must remain positive and perservere’. Those words have stuck through and will continue as I embark on this journey. Off to the weight pile.