Camp Ketchum: The Future Is in Talented Hands

July 22, 2015

I recently had the privilege of being one of two Head Counselors at Camp Ketchum. This year the training program for 80 of our brightest professionals was held in my home country, Belgium, in an old but stunningly renovated locale, Abbaye de la Ramée. In 2002, I had the pleasure of being a Camper myself. Man, how I loved that experience! I still have that t-shirt and there is an unwritten household rule that it will never be washed or worn again.

I hope that the Campers who attended this year left with the same feeling I did all those years ago. It’s that unique mix of intense learning and a fearless client challenge – coupled with a fabulous location and delicious food that catalyzes sworn camaraderie among Campers. This year’s Camp also differed from mine in many ways. It was more global, diverse and stressed interconnectivity and utilized technology that simply didn’t exist 13 years ago.

Intense Learning
Camp Ketchum is renowned in our industry as a premiere Learning & Development offsite and with good reason. It’s tough; you won’t find one Camper who says it’s easy. The day begins at 8:30 in the morning and ends at 7:30 in the evening, with daily back-to-back custom training sessions led by Ketchum’s top experts who fly in from all over the world. The experts, referred to as Counselors, developed sessions to elevate the Campers’ skills-sets to the next level. Sessions ranged from how to foster a culture built on bravery to developing compelling content with emerging platforms. Campers also learned how to work within liquid and global teams with an emphasis on acting as one cohesive unit.

Fearless Client Challenge
All these trainings were a precursor to the main event: a global business challenge introduced by a Ketchum client who flew from Brazil to Belgium to brief the Campers. The Campers, who had been divided into eight teams of 10, had less than 24 hours to create and present a proposal that would blow the client (and the Ketchum judges) away. And boy did they! The ideas were powerful and diverse, the creative was compelling, the teamwork was unstoppable.

Fabulous Location and Food
The venue, Abbaye de la Ramée, created the perfect backdrop to empower and cultivate the next generation of Ketchum leaders. A variety of meeting rooms mixed with relaxation areas, fun and diverse sports facilities including archery and biking and, last but not least, great food & drinks to fuel the mind, body and soul. When the sessions are this tough, you’d better make sure that the “softer” elements on-site are impeccable, and the mix there was perfect!

Sworn Camaraderie
Simply put: at Camp friendships are forged that never break. Before the sun had set on day one we hosted unique team-building exercises, a performance from a London-based rap group and a Camper-led sing-along where colleagues wrote lyrics and performed together in real-time. Camp Ketchum is designed in such a way that in literally no time you’ve met with and spoken to nearly everyone in the building. Diversity is king, and camaraderie everywhere.

As a Head Counselor, I found Camp Ketchum 2015 to be a truly unforgettable experience and I want to thank all of the Campers and Counselors from the bottom of my heart for their tireless support and contagious enthusiasm. Perhaps more importantly, I saw first-hand that the future of both Ketchum and our industry is in talented hands. There is nothing more thrilling than watching the timid transform into the bold, the wallflower turn into a leader and the soloist harmonize with the orchestra (click to tweet).

Born and raised in the country of fries, chocolate, strikes, Manneken-Pis and Magritte. Managing Director of Ketchum Brussels with 20 years of experience in PR and journalism. Fan of my clients, my wife, life in general and my Brompton bike, and in that random order.