Thousands turn out for WeWork Summer Camp

One fan of Florence and the Machine said the band’s Friday night concert was like a private performance—just him and his 5,000 closest friends.

“I can’t believe it,” he shouted to several people standing behind him.  “She was right there, holding my hand!”

Lead singer Florence Welch climbed down from the stage and perched atop the barricade separating her from the audience. They held her upright for several minutes as she sang.

The band was the headliner at Summer Camp, the sixth annual event sponsored by WeWork. This year Summer Camp was held at Eridge Park, a sprawling country estate less than two hours southeast of London.

The first Summer Camp was held in the backyard of one of the company’s employees. It then moved for several years to an island in upstate New York’s Adirondack Mountains, with employees, members, and guests reaching it by boat. This year’s event, which drew more than 5,000 people, was the first to be held outside the U.S.

WeWork Paddington member Ramin Abbassi, sales manager for Hyperform HG, said this was his first Summer Camp.

“Bringing everybody together into an environment like Summer Camp proved to be a great way of creating a sense of community,” Abbassi said. “This made it easy to meet new people, have open conversations, share ideas, and grab extra teammates for the dodgeball dance-off.”

Niamh Linehan, of the Dublin-based company Jobbio, said Summer Camp was a great way to bond with coworkers.

“It was just pretty great to be able to spend some time with my colleagues outside of work,” she said. “You get to see a different side to people when they are relaxed and enjoying themselves. I definitely came away from the weekend feeling like we were all a bit closer.”

Describing Summer Camp isn’t easy. It’s partly a music festival—among the dozen or so performers were top-name talent like Two Door Cinema Club, Crystal Fighters, and Penguin Prison. It’s partly a networking opportunity, drawing entrepreneurs from at least five different continents.

It’s also a skills building opportunity, with inspiring talks on finding meaning in your life by WeWork cofounder Adam Neumann, making sense of the universe by quantum physicist Michael Brooks, and discovering your inner artist by artist Susan Supercharged.

One of the most popular events was a discussion called Work Meets Passion, sponsored by the Women of WeWork. The standing-room-only event featured public speaker Ruthie Lindsey and actor, activist, and entrepreneur Sophia Bush. Fans of the One Tree Hill and Chicago P.D. star were thrilled when she was later spotted taking a meditation class and attending an after-hours dance party.

But perhaps most of all, Summer Camp is just what it sounds like: a chance for grown-ups of all ages to sleep in tents, share meals in a dining hall, and take part in events from archery to zip lining. There was a beatboxing class, an improv workshop, and a whole craft village where you could tie-dye a T-shirt or make cocktails out of items foraged from the woods.

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