Camp Ketchum: An Opportunity for Many Firsts

Global agencies need to rally to offer both higher learning and higher purpose if we want to retain the next generation of leaders. Today marks the start of an iconic Ketchum tradition, Camp Ketchum. Camp is about innovation, inspiration and leadership.

Recognized as one of the pre-eminent training experience among global communications firms, this year’s Camp will be the largest ever, with 83 Campers from 15 countries and 36 different offices. The globally diverse group will be joined in Mont Tremblant, Canada by 31 counselors and Ketchum’s Executive Committee. Camp Ketchum is designed to teach our company’s next generation of leaders cutting-edge thinking in our profession, to engage them in a real world competitive experience and to reinforce our culture of collaboration.


One of my favorite quotes is by Thomas Jefferson and it embodies what Campers will experience in the days ahead: “In matters of style, swim with the current.  In matters of principle, stand like a rock.” Camp Ketchum is intended to be a transformational experience. It is an opportunity to be:

  • First to learn and shape new models Ketchum is developing as we continue to drive innovation
  • First in a highly competitive program that pits teams against each other to win a real-life global client challenge
  • First to truly understand the awesome power of our collaborative culture and relationships as they develop real time

The lessons from Camp extend beyond Ketchum as well. As our industry looks for how to effectively recruit and retain millennials, Camp offers interesting insights to consider.  This next generation of Campers truly is special. Being selected as one of 83 attendees from an employee base of over 2,500 is an important accolade. Millennials want that “standout” recognition but they also want to experience the world as part of a large global agency. The chance to connect and build relationships with colleagues from 15 countries delivers just that. More importantly, it facilitates the development of a global mindset – a critical skill for agencies to offer to our clients. Finally, Campers are asked to share the experience and learning. That puts our next generation leaders in a role they are passionate about – co-creators of break through thinking within Camp and sharers of the lessons beyond.

When I was a Camper back in the day, my team won first prize.  But the real prize I walked away with was a feeling of confidence – in new skills I had developed, in a network of friendships I knew I could rely on and in my company’s leadership.   Those lessons are as relevant today as they were when I attended Camp.