Camp Ketchum Begins

July 20, 2011

It was back in the summer of 1986 that Ketchum first brought to life a camp experience for promising up-and-coming employees as a way to build an esprit de corps among this group of Ketchum future leaders – helping them develop as leaders as well as learn about Ketchum methodologies and all we have to offer clients. Our world, and, of course, Ketchum, were different places then. Reagan, Gorbachev and Thatcher were on the international stage; U2 and Bono topped the charts; Argentina took the World Cup; and Germany was still divided into East and West. There was no Facebook, no blogs. In fact, IBM just unveiled the PC Convertible, the first laptop computer. Ketchum, for its part, was a fraction of the size it is today but had already earned a reputation for being a creative agency with great collaborative spirit and a strong commitment to professional development. Our culture had already become distinct.

A quarter-century later, hundreds of Ketchum’s most promising talent have attended what today is known as Camp Ketchum. Many of the attendees have gone on to hold very important positions within the agency and within the industry at large. Believe it or not, we even have had two couples meet there and go on to happy marriages! 

Twenty-five years later, while the world has changed, the basic principles and reasons for holding Camp Ketchum have not.

Our talent is still central. And it’s incumbent upon us to continue to engage and advance their client and leadership skills.

Today marks the start of a new Camp Ketchum session bringing together 76 of our colleagues from 38 offices in 16 countries. This time, it is being held in Quebec, Canada, and it is a good moment to underscore why we remain committed to this iconic event:


  • Rigorous selection process. Each camper should take tremendous pride in being nominated to attend. The selection process for Camp Ketchum is demanding, and those chosen have already demonstrated their ability to do great work for clients and to lead their teams. And they have the potential to do even more.  

  • Time to refresh and learn. These talented individuals have the opportunity to spend five days in a beautiful location, during which they will learn much about our client service and leadership philosophies. They will hear from a broad range of Ketchum experts and gain new and fresh perspectives on the development of strategy and ideas. And, with more than half of the campers coming from outside the States, it certainly will be an opportunity to meet and begin to understand our inherent differences and what unites us.

  • Our culture. Ketchum is a collaborative culture, and it is our DNA to work together to succeed. In today’s world of 24/7 demands, it has never been more important to cultivate interdependence and to work together across boundaries.

  • Relationships that will last a lifetime. But perhaps even more importantly, campers will build and cement relationships that will last a lifetime. They will work with – and come to rely upon – their fellow campers for years to come. They will form bonds across geographic boundaries, cultures, practices and specialties.

While the tradition of Camp Ketchum is something of which I am very proud, what excites me even more is spending time with our talent from around the world and knowing they are beginning a journey at Camp Ketchum. What begins with a five-day adventure becomes a permanent part of our collective memory and is another element that both holds our agency together and distinguishes us from the rest.

Ray started at Ketchum in 1983, was appointed CEO in 2000, and became its Chairman in 2012. During his tenure, he has overseen the expansion of the firm’s global client-service footprint, as well as the broadening and deepening of Ketchum’s offerings. He actively counsels clients, has been included in PRWeek’s Power List and serves in leadership positions across the industry.