Some of my favorite memories from childhood come from sleep-away camp. I fondly remember leaving Brooklyn, discovering a new sense of freedom where I made incredible friendships, learned to swim and picked up a few new skills (juggler for hire, anyone?!). Sadly that time came to an end around the early high school years, but Camp Navarro doesn’t think that the camp experience has to be limited by age. Their unique camp can provide an incredible location where groups can drink in nature while being spoiled by amenities such as gourmet food, yoga sessions under the trees, stargazing, river exploration, spirit pole carving, foraging hikes, and more to help revive the spirits of the modern (a.k.a stressed out) adult.
Situated in Northern California’s Anderson Valley, Camp Navarro comprises over 200 acres of old growth forest nestled along the north fork of the Navarro River and was reborn in 2013 as a nature retreat and unique event destination. Today, Camp Navarro welcomes groups such as Camp Grounded/Digital Detox (a tech-free summer camp!), Yoga Tree, Spirit Weavers, and more who have enjoyed its state-of-the-art facilities, including its 10,000 square foot Main Lodge, a restaurant kitchen, and an outdoor amphitheater.
We recently spoke with Dan Braun, adventure travel guru with more than thirty years of experience in environmental hospitality and owner of Camp Navarro to better understand what a person can expect and why he thinks the camp experience is important for adults. Read on to learn more about this unexpected soul-cleansing experience that might even inspire you try it out this year.
Interview with Dan Braun on Camp Navarro
Wellness Patterns: Why do you think the camping experience is important for adults?
Dan Braun: The camping experience is important for all humans but Adults especially need a break from our normal, busy and sheltered lives. Day to day we adhere to rigid schedules, a reliance on technology and media, and major responsibilities like work and kids so getting into nature allows adults to simplify, breathe deep, reconnect with the earth and be free and youthful again. On a deeper level, it can be a reminder of what’s important in the world and cut through the ‘noise and chatter’ that bombards us on so many levels.
Wellness Patterns: What are some activities you offer?
Dan Braun: Archery, rock climbing, star gazing/night hikes, day hikes, foraging, wood carving, arts and crafts, yoga, square dancing, river exploration/swimming holes, wine tastings, color wars, volleyball, badminton, cornhole, horseshoes, etc.
Wellness Patterns: Tell us about Camp Grounded.
Dan Braun: Camp Grounded is an adult, tech-free summer camp that started at Camp Navarro. It allowed adults to disconnect from normal life and get back to basics and what’s important; having fun, being a kid again, connecting with nature and other humans, and being appreciated for not just what you do but who you are. Participants did not talk about work, were given nicknames, relinquished all technology and watches, did not talk about age, and basically spent four days having the time of their lives. The motto is ‘disconnect to reconnect’.
Wellness Patterns: What do people (in general) get out of this experience?
Dan Braun: It varies but in general it is a reminder of what’s important in their own life including having fun and adventures, taking a timeout from typically a normal chaotic life, appreciating the beauty in nature, and having meaningful conversations and experiences with friends, family, co-workers and colleagues.
Wellness Patterns: What interested you about setting up this kind of experience when you bought the camp?
Dan Braun: I grew up at summer camp and always knew I would own a camp someday, it just took me thirty years to do it! In the interim, my previous endeavors and careers still centered around getting people into nature whether as a mountain guide or as a hotel owner in Yosemite. My next endeavor was to own a camp, focus on events before opening it up to the general public, and continue to get people into nature. In doing so, we were also protecting an asset that would have been lost for good. We are living in ‘interesting’ times, and people’s priorities are often driven by material things so I do my best to have impact by just getting people outside and then seeing what kinds of transformations can take place in their lives.
For more information, please visit: http://www.campnavarro.com