At CampRahh near Seattle, campers play games, take art classes, kayak, hike or engage in other activities just like summer camps across the country. Nothing would set them apart except for the fact that all of them are over 21 years of age. Camp Rahh is a summer Neverland for adults.
The 47-acre escape caters to the high-tech crowd who are stressed out by the noise, cell phones and rushed schedules that are so much a part of their routine. The four-day program promises participants a chance to be a kid again with no worries and plenty of fun and games.
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To eliminate stress, camp rules strictly forbid all devices. Cellphones, tablets, any timepieces and all other gadgets are checked in upon arrival. Campers are expected to live without Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram for four whole days. They cannot take or post selfies with their new found friends. Like all children’s camps, all alcohol and drugs are forbidden.
While the camp tries to recreate the childhood camping experience, CampRahh is not an ordinary camp.
Remember, its clientele are the pampered grown-up children from the techie world. They cannot be expected to eat normal camp fare or exert too much effort. That is why the food is expertly prepared by Seattle gourmet chef Brian O’Connor, who knows how to cook much more than just hot dogs.
The normal, structured schedule found at most summer children’s camps does not exist at this four-day getaway. There is no morning reveille and campers are free to sleep as late as they want. They can choose from all sorts of activities or no activities at all. During the day, they even have the option of finding some of the hammocks hidden in the woods where they can sleep if they so desire. At night, the unstressed campers engage in lively conversations with s’mores and sparklers around the campfire.
The message is short and tweetable: Put away all worries or concerns. Disconnect from the frenetic intemperance of the high-tech world. Re-experience your inner child. As one existential camper commented, he wanted “to just be.”
The existence of an adult camp is a sign of times. Apparently, the camp has found its market since business is booming. There seem to be plenty of grownups willing to make the four-day trek back to an imagined childhood. There is talk of franchising the concept and opening up similar CampRahhs all across the country.
However, there is something profoundly wrong with a camp for grownups just as there would be with a university for toddlers. Everything has its time, place and season.
Children need places like camps because they have energetic and challenging activities that will help the development of their minds and bodies. Camps cannot be places of laziness since children also need formative structures to mold their character and instill good habits. They need strong emotional ties to parents, other children and role models to nurture them and make up for their shortcomings. They need a time of innocence and wonder to anchor them in virtue and guide them in their love of God. In short, they need all these things so that they might grow up.
It is completely different when dealing with young adults. They don’t need camps to grow up because they have already grown up. What they need is to develop, mature, and bring to plenitude everything they acquired in their childhood. Indeed they will still have times of recreation, but these should consist of “grown-up” pleasures that require appreciation and effort. They must channel their still exuberant energies to think seriously about their vocation and calling. As grown-ups, they need to assume the responsibilities and duties that come with making a living and finding a purpose in life. They need to leave behind their childish pursuits and begin to confront life’s hard realities, even the reality of fighting for their country. They need to learn to love others to the point of self-sacrifice. This is their time to enter into marriage, establish families and join a community. Young adult should do as the Apostle Paul, who says in 1 Corinthians “When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.” (13:11)
Today, however, such considerations are ignored, and young adults are bombarded with a contrary message. Everything must be entertaining and fun. Life is not made to confront hard realities but to create one’s virtual reality. Relationships need not be lasting but can be fleeting, lasting just a moment. It is as if the world is a big CampRahh where one can put off adulthood for as long as possible. The result is frustrated young adults who never grow up and who end up finding out the hard way that Neverlands never work.
As seen on theblaze.com