Camp Rahh!: Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Wifi
NPR tells us more than 2 billion people are connected to the internet. Most are never more than a smart device away from family, friends, or work. The cacophony outside us can get so much louder than the music within. We think about what it would be like to disconnect, recharge, unwind… But with deadlines and calendar reminders, are we kidding?
We don’t have to be.
There exists an old idea retooled for a modern, wireless, hyperconnected world. If ever there was a time for this, it's now. That is where Brian Oh and the team at Camp Rahh come in. Taking the best of what that social media-centric world has brought them, by way of artists, chefs, and musicians, they created the ultimate reason to disconnect: Adult Summer Camp.
Camp Rahh was inspired by the memory of camp from long ago: school is still far away, and friends are scattered, back with their own families for that never-ending summer. The joyous monotony of the season is broken by the excitement of something not entirely new: returning to Camp. Finding those old friends from far away, land/water activities, first crushes and late nights. That moment, Brian said, let him know summer was coming to an end, but it helped transition him for the coming year.
That last hurrah of summer.... Readying for a big year. I find myself thinking similarly about the year. Fall always felt like the beginning. So camp is near the end of summer- those hot, sweet last weeks of August.
This is where what you remember from long ago melds with what you know of the adult you. How do you unwind? What helps you find your calm?
“Camp was created for you to have your own experience. We’ve had campers who come and sat around in a hammock and read or write their book. These are adults- they don’t need a structure. At the same time we’ve had people who do every activity,” said Brian. He noted that just like summer camp, there are counselors to help those who might be a bit more shy, and communal meals to get everybody on the schedule of getting together.
Brian and the team have been meeting to set this plan into action since last year’s camp. Meetings are unpaid, and the event itself covers the costs, with a bit leftover to start next year in motion, but nothing more. They don’t take from the event. They have used it to share new music they love, artists who are at the top of their game, and chefs that are on their way to Michelin stars.
Who wouldn’t want to create a camp experience with a music festival component? This camp opts out of the ‘nowhere to stay, sleep in van/tent’ festival vibe, with enclosed cabins that just get better and better. Separated men’s and women’s bunks and showers are available. Everyone gets a bed, and there are no casserole surprises of last night’s leftovers for lunch.
Brian first cast his vision out for us in his apartment, his history in photography and artistic eye apparent on every surface. As a freelance photographer and videographer, he even has the historic cameras of his profession to match. He has a chill excitement talking about Camp Rahh. But his demeanor changes talking about his business.
As an entrepreneur that makes sense; your output is your livelihood, and there is no room for a miss. Structure, utility, efficiency, branding. We all feel that. In a sense, that’s what being an adult is. But how do we avoid settling into a rhythm? How do we find new energy or people?
Brian may have found the answer. It's a change in mindset that, each year, has been doubling in size. Brian and the team’s hope for this year is 250. When we sat down with him, he had 150 filled spaces. Mostly women, he says, which is super cool. Many are local, but it's transplants whom he would love to mix in with the campers.
He has ideas about how to do that, but he is currently focusing on this year’s camp running smoothly. We can’t help but ask if he has a dream lineup for the camp. He does. But he says, smiling, “Have you seen who we have now?” He showed us. It was impressive.
Shout out to the artists in this year’s lineup, who were new to us but had us sharing videos with everyone we met.
Shy Girls (you had me at R&B), Paris Alexa (that skill), Naomi Wachira (woman, your voice messed up my friend in the best way), Sea the City favorite Saint Claire, Otieno Terry (smile sing/rapping with style), and the trifecta of DJs, Cuff Lynx, J-Nasty, Jerry Wang, rounding out the sound for the final night’s silent disco.
The more he talks about the camp, the more we start to talk about what we can cut from our budgets. It's the same itch to go as the one we felt every year planning for summer camp as a kid. Personally, he had me at glowing headsets and silent discos. As hard working adults, don’t we deserve a break? A breath?
You deserve to unplug from the world, if only for a few days.
It's time to go to Camp Rahh, my STC Explorers. August 24-27th.