CAA and Mills Entertainment are betting parents will fork over as much as $2,000 for their children to spend summer camp hanging out with their favorite digital stars.
The newly launched Camp17 venture, designed for kids 10-16, will include “#bestcampever,” a seven-day session with popular YouTubers Bethany Mota and Tyler Oakley serving a co-head counselors. Two other digital stars, Meghan Rienks and Connor Franta, are hosting specialty camps under the partnership.
The digital-influencer camps are being touted as the first of their kind. The development is yet another example of how Internet celebrities are cashing in on their massive social followings with business ventures spanning books, TV, movies, merchandise and live events.
Mota and Oakley’s #bestcampever will lead campers in various activities like swimming, soccer, color wars, yoga and cooking, along with special events like movie nights and a talent show. The seven-day, six-night camp kicks off Aug. 21 at Camp Wah-Nee in Torrington, Conn., and costs $1,995 to attend.
“I am really looking forward to getting to know my viewers in such an immersive setting,” said Mota, who has more than 9.8 million subscribers on YouTube. “Tyler and I have been busy preparing unique activities that will promise to provide a week full of learning and memories to last a lifetime.”
Added Oakley, a longtime YouTuber with nearly 8 million subscribers, “Unplugging is a good thing. This means turning off your computers, cell phones and other outside influences and when we can disconnect from the distractions of everyday we can concentrate on reconnecting with ourselves and with each other.”
Mills Entertainment, a producer of live entertainment in the U.S. featuring digital stars, is overseeing development, planning and execution of Camp17. Registration opened Friday at GoCamp17.com, with fees ranging from $1,095 to $1,995 depending on the length of the camp. CAA and Mills are also awarding scholarships for 10% of campers who demonstrate a financial need.
The Camp17 concept — the name is supposed to imply that these are the ultimate summer camps for kids under 17 — is akin to fantasy sports camps, where adult fans can rub elbows with pro athletes. Mills and CAA have worked on live, in-person concerts and events for digital influencers and believe a more intimate and immersive experience will have legs.
“You actually get to spend time with the people you look up to,” said Frank Jung, co-head of digital talent and packaging at CAA. “We thought, if these fans are spending 15 minutes with these stars (at tours and meet-and-greet events) and paying for it and just loving it, why not give them the best experience that we all know of, which is camp?”
Camp17 says the digital stars will be involved in “at least a few hours of activities every day.” Organizers also promise that every camper will have at least one opportunity to take a photo with each creator.
Rienks’ girls-only Camp a.i.m (which stands for “authentic, inspiration and motivation”) will occur over Memorial Day weekend at the Dovid Oved Retreat Center in the San Bernardino mountains in Southern California. The $1,095 four-day, three-night camp, from May 27-30, is focused on self-empowerment and helping girls look and feel good from the inside out. “I’m so excited about this project because camp played such a huge role in my childhood and young adult life,” said Rienks.
Meanwhile, Connor Franta (who has 5.3 million YouTube subs) will host the five-day Creator Camp for aspiring digital creators at Camp Beber in Mukwonago, Wis., from Aug. 22-26, priced at $1,395. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn the creative and technical secrets of shooting and editing videos. “I’m looking forward to being able to share insights into what goes on behind the camera and within my creative process,” said Franta.
The #bestcampever will have maximum capacity of 400 campers; the other two will be around 250. Admission will be on a first-come, first-serve basis and will include a screening process for campers, said Mills Entertainment president Mike Mills.
“This is really something fresh and exciting,” said Mills. He acknowledged that the cost of the Camp17 sessions is a “slight premium” over traditional summer camps but that it’s competitive. Mills expects to add at least one additional digital-influencer camp this year, with a bigger slate eyed in 2017.
Watch the announcement video from Oakley and Mota on #bestcampever:
CAA, which acquired an equity position in Mills Entertainment in April 2015, reps Mota and Rienks among it growing stable of digital influencers.
Oakley is represented by Lisa Filipelli of Big Frame and attorneys Adam Kaller and Ryan Pastorek of Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush & Kaller. Mota is repped by CAA, Tony Mota, and attorney Jon Moonves of Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein and Lezcano. Rienks is represented by CAA, Untitled Entertainment, and attorney Jamie Afifi of Ziffren Brittenham. Franta is represented by Andrew Graham of Big Frame and attorney Ryan Pastorek of Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush & Kaller.
Pictured above: Tyler Oakley and Bethany Mota.