PHOTOS/Courtesy Key West Business Guild

Paddleboarding and other water sports will be promoted during Kamp Key West, May 15-18.

Summer camp for grown-ups kicks off new marketing campaign




In a town long accustomed to promoting itself as a party-centric destination with great weather, the Key West Business Guild is taking a new tack this spring, aiming to broaden its appeal to a younger and more athletically-orientated demographic.

“Kamp Key West” is the first in what the gay marketing organization hopes will become an annual event. Organized along the lines of a traditional summer camp, the three-day weekend kicks off on May 15 during a traditionally slow weekend between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day.

Instead of happy hour, the activities will revolve around water sports, one day set aside to help local non-profit organizations and a series of camp games at various venues. Matt Hon, the business guild’s event coordinator, said the idea is to combine water sports with various group activities and what he called “voluntourism.”

“It’s a new wave especially popular with the younger generation. They’re so in touch with nature and the environment and doing good things that they actually spend their vacations working to help local nonprofits,” Hon said.

The Guild is finalizing a list of area non-profit organizations that will spend Sunday, May 18, with the Kampers assisting with specific jobs. And the long weekend will kick off on Thursday, May 15, with a full moon bike ride that will be a fundraiser for Samuel’s House, a local group offering help to homeless women and their children.

Friday will be devoted to water sports, Hon said, including snorkeling, kayaking, boating and paddleboarding.

“You can’t really experience Key West until you’ve experienced it on the water,” he said.

Saturday will be Kamp day, with traditional summer camp games such as tug or war, volley ball and corn hole from noon to 4 p.m. at various bars around the island, including Aqua, Bourbon St. Pub and 801 Bourbon Bar. In the evening will be a Kamp dance at a location still being finalized.

Sunday will be “voluntourism” day, followed by a tea dance at La Te Da and ending with an evening camp fire with hot dogs and marshmallows.

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