There’s no question that we all are having to re-think summer travel plans this year, but for parents who typically send their kids to a sleep-away camp during the school break, the closure of most of these overnight options is proving to be another wrinkle—particularly for those also trying to navigate working from home. Luckily, the bespoke luxury travel planners at EMBARK Beyond feel your pain, and have come up with a solution. Just announced last week, the Camp Embark program allows clients to create a safe, private summer camp for a family or small group of two or three families, complete with a designated camp director, customized activities, luxury accommodations across the US and the Caribbean and even add-ons like private chefs and private jet service (courtesy of a partnership with Jet Linx.)
The idea for the program was born of both EMABRK staffers’ personal summer camp closure woes and queries from their high-end clients. “I’m a mother of three and, like everyone right now, have been figuring out how to work from home now that schools and camps are closed,” Managing Partner Julie Danziger tells Robb Report. “At the same, time, we were looking at what our customers need right now and what we could offer them, so this idea was a perfect fit. The trick was pulling it together quickly and to think outside of the box, while also being practical and realistic.” Fellow Managing Partner Jack Ezon—a father also in the same camp-less boat—adds that the program also addresses the needs of families wanting to safely go on vacation this summer, and of parents navigating the current work-from-anywhere landscape. “The program sets parents up with the ability to work from an incredible luxury hotel while we bring the camp to them. And,” he laughs, “they don’t have to send their kids to a kids’ club where they’ll be around other slimy fingers.”
To create the program, EMBARK has enlisted the services of veteran camp director Lynda Levy, who will vet and train each certified counselor, develop the activities (all tested and social distancing-friendly) and work with the clients to create a personalized experience. Every part of the program can be customized based on parents’ work schedules and how they want to split their time; for example, the counselors can work in two or three hours of family time during the day for joint activities, or keep the kids entertained until the end of the work day and create family activities for the evening. Babysitting services can also be worked in so parents can enjoy date nights. “We want kids to feel like they are at camp and parents to feel like they are on vacation,” stresses Danziger.
The activities themselves will include a mix of what each property already offers and things created to replicate the summer camp experience. Examples might include everything from basketball drills and a localized treasure hunt to ropes courses, kayak races, and game night competitions, as well as plenty of time out in nature for things like ATV rides, hikes, stargazing and more. Currently over 30 properties are available to choose from, with more being added to the program each week. “We are looking at properties that offer opportunities for privacy, such as direct access to the rooms, and that are within a driving distance of major cities across the country,” notes Danziger. “We also want properties that offer lots of activities. Places that are secluded, but not boring.”
Current options include East Coast favorites like Chatham Bars Inn and Acqualina Resort & Spa; ranch-style picks like The Lodge at Blue Sky, The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch. Dunton Hot Springs & River Camp and Mustang Monument Eco-Resort; and beachside options like Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Grace Bay Club, and Rosewood Mayakoba. Ezon notes that response from clients has been instantaneous, with current bookings split evenly between drive-market locations and those that accommodate private flights. Danziger adds that clients have also suggested properties that might work for the program and requested options like upscale RVs or houseboats—all things EMBARK Beyond can also arrange. Camp Embark rates vary depending on the property and size of the group, but they typically start at $10,000 for the one-week minimum stay, including accommodations, counselor, most activities and camp supplies. Contact EMABRK Beyond for more details.