Community and Belonging in the Digital Age and the Rise of… Adult Summer Camps!


You may remember us introducing Amy Silverman, Founder of The Connection Movement and Connection Camp, in interviews last year and the year before. We love what Amy is doing, and the community she has built, so naturally we ‘connected’ again to explore new topics as well as get the scoop on plans for this year’s camp coming up in Sussex, NJ, June 14-17th.

It might appear that community is a fading phenomenon. Statistics show a steady decline in church and other organized religion attendance as well as decreasing participation in service clubs such as Rotary and Kiwanis. Yet the human need to belong is as strong as ever.

Amy tells us that over one million people attended Adult Sleepaway Camps last year alone. These camps are intended to create deep and meaningful relationships, connect with nature, experience play, and practice self-expression and creativity in fun-filled multi-day retreats.

To catch new readers up, Connection Camp is set at a kids’ summer sleepaway campground, providing the space and an itinerary of workshops and activities (from guided meditations to wine tastings to dance parties!). Campers spend 4 days and 3 nights interacting in different contexts — through play, conversation, and creative expression. This combination allows for uniquely rich relationships to form.

In past articles, Heartalytics has solely interviewed Amy. We’re shaking things up this year by talking directly to campers as well. Laetitia, a first-time camper last year reflected on the overall mindset of those who attend, “Everyone’s intention is to communicate clearly, to understand others and be understood.”

Laetitia at Connection Camp 2017

Laetitia at Connection Camp 2017

Come alone, leave connected to community

After chatting with Laetitia, we gathered that even first-timers who don’t know a soul leave with renewed sense of community.

Laetitia didn’t know anyone when she went to camp last year. Having never attended a sleepaway camp as a kid, she was keen to experience one as an adult.

She shared, “I consider myself to be really shy. I knew at Connection Camp they were going to provide us with ways to learn how to have authentic meaningful connection with people. I was really excited about that.”

“Then, I ended up spending all year bumping into people from camp — at least once a month. We met there and it rippled through the year.”

Another camper we talked to, Jennifer, expressed similar sentiments. She told us, “I came to Connection Camp 2016 knowing no one and left with friendships that have lasted until today. I then attended Connection Camp 2017 and my circle of friends grew even bigger. The humans who come together for these few days are the most loving I have ever known. So you may arrive alone but you leave with a tribe.”

Maybe even meet someone special

Heather and Andy at a Connection Movement Immersion in 2017

Heather and Andy at a Connection Movement Immersion in 2017

Relevant to Tawkify community members — if you’re single, camp has possibilities for romance! Lila, met someone special at camp in 2015 and returned with him in 2016. She shared: “It’s a great environment to meet someone because you get to see deeper into them than you would in ordinary circumstances.”

Andy and Heather (pictured above) met at camp last year. Although they didn’t go looking for love necessarily, both felt their hearts open and walls crumble at camp. Over the course of the retreat, Andy says, “It felt like we did in three days what for most relationships happens in three months, in terms of the level of intimacy.” Their time at camp “laid a deep foundation” that enabled them to ride through the rougher times. They’re still going strong a year later!

Develop new friendships

Anyone who went to camp as a kid knows that camp friends are friends for life. It’s no different as adults. The opportunity to play, co-habitate, eat together, brush teeth together — creates bonds that cocktails in a city lounge likely doesn’t.

Amy and Jason met through the first Connection Camp three years ago, and even though they live in different cities, they see each other a few times a year. They easily pick up where they left off. Amy says they continue to use the communication and relating tools from workshops presented at camp.

“I never would have met Jason if it hadn’t been for Connection Camp. Because of the experiences at camp, we share a meaningful history together that is so easy to build on.”

Experience someone you love in a new way

Olivia came to connection camp two years ago solo, and set her mind to return the following year in a relationship. So in 2017, she brought her boyfriend, Jonathan, to camp.

Jonathan remembered how fun it was to be there together. “It was a space to connect around play. I got to see sides of Olivia that aren’t always active.”

Tawkify goes to Connection Camp!

If you want to check out Connection Camp, use the code Tawkify to save $40 on your registration. And tell us all about your experience afterwards. Connection Camp will be assigning ‘secret sweeties’ (everyone is matched secretly to someone who they will do nice things for over the course of the weekend), group activities, and 40+ offerings from teachers and healers (think yoga by the lake, zouk dancing, authentic conversations, and a DJ’ed pool party).

Here’s to s’mores, new friends, and even some new romances blooming this summer!

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