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At Campowerment in Malibu, women find joy, inner strength or simple relaxation

Mary Olson, a 59-year-old IT executive from Falls Church, Va., scaled to the top of a 40-foot high pole and perched there for 10 minutes, trembling, summoning the courage to make the next move. Below, clusters of women shouted encouragement. Finally, Olson began slowly shimmying 40 feet across a horizontal beam to the other side. Then she jumped, gently swinging from a rope, yelping in delight, the Pacific Ocean her backdrop. The ropes course was a star attraction at Campowerment, a three-day women's retreat in the hills of Malibu. One hundred fifteen women had signed up for the hikes, yoga classes and workshops centered on relationships, parenting and career goals. "I wanted...