Last summer, Kesley Howard was in a rut. All her friends were getting married or changing chapters, and she was working a stressful job glued to her phone. She felt like something was missing.
“I didn’t know what I was looking for until I found Camp Rahh,” Kesley said. “I’m not joking — it’s one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had.”
When you want to have fun, meet new people, and disconnect from the daily grind, you don’t often think, I need to go to summer camp.
But grown-up summer camps are a thing now. There’s Camp Grounded in California, Camp Bonfire in Pennsylvania, Club Getaway in Connecticut. Camp No Counselors, which was on “Shark Tank,” has 16 locations across Canada and the U.S.
The idea for Seattle’s Camp Rahh took root three years ago, at founder Brian Oh’s birthday party. He worked at a tech startup at the time, and told his friends he thought people in the city could use a really fun, really intentional way to escape the stress of their tech-fueled daily lives and actually connect with each other — and themselves.
There’s nothing else quite like it around here. There are no phones and no alcohol, for one. And the idea is to meet new people, and see things in a new way.
You’re given a journal on the bus ride up, asked to sit with someone you don’t know at every meal, and encouraged to talk about all kinds of things other than work. There’s live performances by local artists, yoga, team contests, art classes, hammocks, tons of outdoor stuff, a pajama party, and more than a few ways to get a little crazy.
“You just be silly. In your day to day life you don’t have space for that,” said Mary Hazen, who runs camp operations as a volunteer. “It brings you back to a time when you were younger, and there was less stress, less pressure, less responsibility of being an adult.”
Kesley said she felt most connected to everyone at camp at the late-night silent disco. Three DJ’s played three different tracks, and everyone put on headphones and danced to their own beat.
She’d been nervous on her way to camp, she said, and fought off a few cravings to grab her phone and look occupied.
“You hear about the Seattle Freeze, but legit — every single person I came into contact with was nice and inspiring,” Kesley said.
The openness paid off. She had conversations so deep, Kesley said, she hadn’t even had them with her closest friends. And she left camp with more friends. People she checks in with throughout the year, even people who changed their careers after camp. One guy she met left to teach in Thailand. And a woman she loved talking to decided to train to be a life coach.
This year, Kesley is coming back to Camp Rahh as a camp counselor. And she got three of her friends to come with her — one who’s more reserved, one who’s immersed in his work, and one who was looking for something different.
“I don’t see anyone who wouldn’t have fun,” Kesley said.
Camp Rahh has been postponed for 2021, but plans to be back in action for 2022. Want to sign up for updates? Head here.