The Best Thing I Invented Didn’t Make Sense to Anyone…but Me.

Maybe it was a midlife crisis. A couple years ago something in me shifted.

If you’ve ever torn a ligament in your ankle, you might feel a “pop” that signals, “Uh-oh, something happened.” I had a “pop” but it wasn’t in my ankle. It was in my psyche. And instead of feeling pain, I felt a wave of relief.

I realized I could stop running myself ragged as a consultant. Instead, I could gather wannabe futurists and teach them everything I knew.

With that “pop”, Futurist Camp was born. Camp is built on what I believe about humans and the future, and it’s the best thing I do every year. Here are three insane/nontraditional/heretical things my team did in creating Camp.

1. Camp is offline and in the woods.
Camp has no wifi. All classes are outdoors. And there are no Powerpoints. Some people can’t get over this and never apply to Camp.

But I believe that our addiction to digital distractions is short-circuiting the Big Work that humans are uniquely wired for.

So Camp is intentionally offline, slowed down to a more human rhythm: we rise with the sun; we eat real food prepared on site from local ingredients; we spend most of our time near water and in the woods; and every afternoon, Campers have free time to lie in a hammock (people need downtime) or compete in Camp games (people need relationships and fun).

2. Care — not comfort — is our top priority.
We don’t care if Campers are “comfortable.” Camp doesn’t have A/C. There are bugs as big as small birds. Campers share bunk rooms and showers.

Discomfort creates openings for new learning.

In lieu of comfort, we take great care of our Campers. The coffee is always on. Chef Pat accommodates food allergies and creates delicious meals and snacks. Every evening, our staff makes a new signature cocktail for happy hour and after-dinner we light a bonfire and offer all the s’mores fixins you can imagine. Last year we had coconut marshmallows. Holy shit.

And here’s the act of caring that leaves me gobsmacked: nearly all staff are Camp alum who take vacation from their own demanding jobs to pay it forward and help new Campers have an amazing experience.

3. Camp is demanding.
Camp is not vacation. People are paying us good money to learn something. So it starts early; Campers receive a care package full of homework to be completed before they arrive. At Camp, classes start at 7:30 am I-don’t-care-how-late-you-stayed-up-singing-campfire-songs-and-drinking-Jack-Daniels. You and your partner(s) have to find time beyond the ten hours of daily workshops to finish your group work.

To earn their Certificate of Completion Campers have to finish Camp Lakotah and participate in six months of webinars with guest faculty. To earn a Certificate of Achievement, Campers must complete all of the aforementioned and complete a supervised foresight project within one year of Camp.

So why do people pay thousands of dollars to be uncomfortable with a bunch of strangers in exchange for a piece of paper and a Camp badge?

Two summers ago, a high falutin’ consulting company asked me to do an in-depth interview about Futurist Camp because it was referred to them as “a good example of professional development for future leaders.” I gave a sincere interview, but no one can replicate Camp.

Camp is more than professional development; it’s a prayer that our current generation will get it right so that our next generation can have it better.