Author | Photo Rob Ackerman Photography

Camp Wild Hearts Offers the Antidote to the Grind of Adulting

If the grind of adult life is starting to wear you the f down, a little camp therapy is in order. 

Camp Wild Hearts is an all-inclusive adult summer camp weekend happening September 13-15. Created by veterans of the Toronto theatre community, the camp will feature a mix of choose-your-own-adventure and camp-wide activities, ranging from papier-mâché and fireside performances to a barefoot field dance party. 

“In a time where the world is becoming increasingly complex, divided and lonely, camp is the great equalizer,” says Camp Wild Hearts co-creator, Elenna Mosoff. “Whether you went to camp as a kid and are looking for a return to that analogue way of being, or you’ve never gone before, Camp Wild Hearts is a place where adults can gather in the simplicity of a temporary, created world in a diverse community of others.” 

You’re guaranteed to walk away from camp rejuvenated and refreshed with a restored faith in humanity.

We chatted with Mosoff about the camp this week.

SDTC: Why did you start Camp Wild Hearts? 

EM: As a child, I went to camp every summer. It was my favourite place on earth. I would count down the days until camp. In grade school, I focused my speeches we had to make each year on camp. When I had a bat mitzvah, the theme of the party was camp. Throughout my life, I have been creating events and circles and hunting for communities that mirror camp.

Camp for me was the place that taught me that anything is possible if you dream it and create it with others. It was a space where I learned about conflict and negotiation, about empathy, and what it’s like to be on both sides of bullying. It’s where I learned social responsibility to my fellow campers, to a body of land and to an imagined system. Throughout my life I have hung onto these pieces. They are in the system of my body and I have been living my life as though I can create whatever I dream because camp showed me that I could.

Last year, my wife, Lindy, and I had our wedding ceremony on the same site that we are running Camp Wild Hearts. Everyone was so moved by the space and the activities around the wedding that a buzz emerged about doing this again next year. Of course, not getting married again, but running an adult summer camp weekend. I jumped on that energy and booked the camp again. I realized that I had been longing to be in a community in the woods with others, to play, and to connect. I believe there is value in slowing down with others. Without devices, without work, and without that same level of responsibility to work, kids and family life.

We started Camp Wild Hearts to offer others an opportunity to experience what we did as kids, and to unwind in nature. After the Raptors won the NBA championship, it became even clearer that people in Toronto are craving experiences of en masse celebration, and we oriented Camp Wild Hearts around some key collective experiences on the weekend.

Is the camp geared towards those who live/work in the theatre space? Or is it a creative arts camp open to all? 

The camp isn’t necessarily geared towards those who live/work in the theatre space.  While it is being created by many who work in that space, the intention is to attract people who are looking for respite from organizing, from being in charge (whether that’s at work or in family life) and especially from their devices. We want people to come to camp who are tired of engaging friends online in important discussions, and who want relationships with new folks IN REAL LIFE. We are on a mission to help people navigate the current chaos of the world through a return to some sense of simplicity. We learned that simplicity through the camp space, so we consider the creation of this camp a gift of simplicity for those looking for it.

Because I am also a leadership coach, I imagine that the campers will be made up of other coaches, therapists, artists and retired people looking to have an easy communal weekend experience where they just have to show up! Currently, those registered are a wild cross-section of demographics, so it’s gonna be an interesting mix!

What are some activities you’ve got planned?

The first evening will feature a Deep Dive Dinner Picnic, following the Deep Dive Dinner series that has been running in Toronto since January 2019, in which the entire camp population will deep dive into a single topic in groups of ten, following a facilitated format that encourages people to bring different perspectives and experiences to the table, and come to no conclusions.

The second evening will include The Apple Box, a communal ritual for standing taller in the world today, designed by the camp team, followed by a campfire (un)Talent show, and a barefoot field dance party.

The third day will include a game of Predator/Prey, led by Dora Award-winning theatre actor, Jeff Lillico. A recent addition, running all weekend, is Convergence Theatre’s latest creation, Worry Warts, by Julie Tepperman. The Worry Depot will be set up all weekend so campers can come at will and drop off their worries in order to enjoy their weekend to their fullest capacity.

Daytime activities will include choices like archery, ropes course, blanket fort building, Zumba, Improv for the Terrified, DIY arts and crafts, meditation and much more!

What do you hope campers walk away with?

The goal is to squash out loneliness through many opportunities for connection. Our hope is that campers walk away with a new friend (or 5!), a slower pace in their bodies, and a thirst for more camp experiences!

What are you most looking forward to?

I most looking forward to being in the midst of this new forming community! I am ecstatic when I dream about what might emerge from the collision of all these strangers, and the unknown possibilities that could emerge as a result of making camp. Also, I am so excited to smell like campfire for days!

There are still spaces left. Register for camp here. Your admission includes round-trip transportation, accommodation and all food/drinks.

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