Memories of 99 Globetrotters camps

As we get ready for our 100th camp in a few days, I thought it would be fun to look back at some favorite memories from the last 12 years of this crazy adventure. While we’ve primarily focused on Jiu Jitsu at the camps, technique and rolling can be a bit boring to write about, so here is a non-exhaustive list, in random order, of memorable events from the last 99 camps!

The First Ever Camp

It was somehow coordinated that around 20 people—most of them I had met on a recent trip around the world—would all come train with us in Copenhagen for a week. Royce Gracie happened to be in town as well and he was actually the first instructor we ever hired for a camp. We had such an amazing time, and I knew right away that I had stumbled onto something special that I wanted to do more. They came back the next summer, brought some friends along, and the rest is history. I don’t have a single picture or video from that camp so you’re gonna have to do with the original spreadsheet of participants!

Fight Show in the Carlsberg Breweries

Our club in Copenhagen basically started out as a drinking club with a Jiu Jitsu problem and later turned into a Jiu Jitsu club with a drinking problem. We wanted to throw some big, fun parties, but we were poor. Early on, we realized that the camps could be a way to fund these dreams. One summer, we rented the recently closed Carlsberg Breweries buildings in Copenhagen and hosted a big summer party for the camp and our club’s members. We had a cage installed and ran some memorable matches; one of the kids from the club fought the teacher of the kids’ team. MMA rules. In suits. What a night!

Vodka & Violence

One of the first camps we did outside of Denmark was in El Salvador. Random, I know, but I wanted to go surfing. It was a small camp with only 20 people in a private house by the beach. We had a lot of spare time just relaxing in the garden during the day. Our beloved camper friend Oksana came all the way from Russia and didn’t speak any English. One day she was away with half the camp for sightseeing, and we decided to make a little film for her, completely in Google Translated Russian. And so, the movie trailer “Vodka & Violence” was born. I took us all day to film it because we laughed so much and had to film every scene so many times.

Swimming in the freezing ocean in Greenland

It’s already crazy enough to think that we hosted two camps in Greenland, of all places. The most remote, wild, and spectacular place I’ve ever visited. It’s expensive to get there, so I thought I would make the camp free for participants. To avoid too many people signing up for a free camp without being serious about actually going, I required a deposit that they would ONLY get back if they jumped in the ocean in Greenland during camp. Spoiler alert: Tons of people still signed up, then immediately realized that Greenland is far away and difficult to get to. I kept my word and only refunded those who got in the slushy waves with us! The camp itself was a truly amazing experience as we rolled with the locals, sailed with random fishermen to whale watch and got to know the life of people living in this special place.


A handful of campers managed to put together a band and played live at the final open mat of the 2019 Summer Camp in Heidelberg, Germany. How often do you get to have a mosh pit at your open mat?

Summer Camp 2013 party & Fight Night

It was our club’s 10 year anniversary and we decided to have a big camp with a big party to end it. It was an epic location with a cage on the dance floor, where I had the silly idea to fight MMA against my long term training partner. Now veteran camp instructor Halldor from Iceland was only 16 at the time but his parents wrote a nice little handwritten note to us that said “It’s ok, Halldor can fight”. And so he got in the ring for an amateur MMA fight at the end up camp.

The First and Only UK Camp

It was the warmest week in 10 years in Bournemouth, and the camp was a beautiful, hilarious train wreck. Only one of the four big celebrity names we had on the poster actually showed up for the camp, but we had a fantastic time nonetheless.

Vikings vs. Tourists

It started as kind of a joke but ended up becoming a big tradition in Iceland: The Vikings vs. Tourists competition in traditional Icelandic wrestling, Glima. The old fighting art is struggling to stay alive, but we’re doing our part to help it as we once a year step up to get smashed by the Vikings and collect those sweet silver medals for Instagram.

“The Gentle Art of Travel” Documentary

Hands down the biggest side project we’ve ever done at the camps. Little did we know about a global pandemic lurking just around the corner, but it somehow made the long-awaited premiere an even more special experience. After two and a half years of work, we finally showed the film in a movie theater in Reykjavik, Iceland, followed by showings in Germany and Estonia before we made the film public on YouTube.

Open mat in a 1000-year old church

At the Castle Camp in Italy we had our own, private little church that dates back around 1000 years. One a rainy day, we pulled the mats in and it was perfect for an open mat!

Diving Contest Almost Became a Dying Contest

Our early camps in Belgium were in a sports hall with a swimming pool. An impromptu diving competition got us banned, but it didn’t stop us from doing it again at several other camps in everything from Olympic-sized pools to kiddie pools. It all ended in Arizona where someone dived from a giant ladder into a tiny pool, making everyone stop breathing for several seconds. She survived, but the diving competition was put to rest forever.

The Assassination Game

The assassination game started with squirt guns at the USA Camp, but we quickly realized that the Zen Camp in Poland was the perfect setting for this if we played it with plastic ninja swords. Countless hours have been spent hiding in bushes and trees, waiting for a target to come by.

We rented a Castle. Six times.

I had an old checklist of things I wanted to try and do in life, and one of them was to rent a castle. It took almost 10 years before the camps made that possible. It was supposed to be a one-off, but we ended up having Castle Camps five times in Italy and Portugal. Those were small, intimate camps with only a few people and lots of food and wine.

Hosted Two Weddings

It happens that people meet at camps, and somehow it also happened that some of these people decided to get married at camp. Why not!

Forest Fisticuffs

The wrestling show at the USA Camp in Maine was a random idea one year, but it quickly became a new tradition that I think will keep happening for many years to come.

Cabin Parties

During the pandemic, we really missed our pub crawls at the European city camps. We still managed to do some camps in the US, and that’s when we got the idea to do a “pub crawl” between the cabins of the USA Camp in Maine. The moment we found ourselves dancing in a tiny, wooden cabin with a DJ and decorations all over, we knew this would have to become a staple of that camp.

Scooter Race

A horribly bad idea, but to everyone’s surprise, nobody got hurt during a giant race on electric scooters at the Beach Camp in Pärnu, Estonia. Not sure we’ll do that again, though!

Plague Camp

Just months before the pandemic, we had a Winter Camp where pretty much everyone got sick with a horrible fever. At some point, we just gave up waiting it out, and the open mats were a battlefield of fever hallucinations. Many of us got tested for antibodies later on, and it wasn’t COVID, so we’d like to believe we did the whole pandemic thing before it became cool for the rest of the world. Can you spot the special guest on the group photo?

50th Camp Party

The 50th camp in 2019 was celebrated in style with an epic party in Heidelberg, Germany. We somehow negotiated an all-you-can-drink deal with the place at a very good price and ended up literally drying out the bar. The staff was very impressed; the manager, not so much.

Black Belt Promotions

While we do belt evaluations and promotions at camp now and then, it’s something that we keep to a minimum. Over the course of 99 camps, we’ve promoted only four black belts, as far as I remember. Each time, it has of course been a very special moment, as it’s always someone who has been part of the camps for many years. Honorary mention goes to Giles Garcia, who got his black belt disguised as a pizza, with no clue what was waiting for him in the box!

Dodgeball Championships

At the USA camps in Maine and Arizona, we’ve had some epic dodgeball tournaments. Nothing comes close to the moment when Seb from the UK—who is slightly disabled—took out an entire opposing team on his own and sprained his ankle in the process. The victory scene was straight out of Rocky, and we don’t have any pictures of it because everyone was lost in the moment.

Someone Borrowed a Flag

There are many ways the camps have made their mark on the world. One of them was when a certain iconic flag was missing from a certain iconic castle in a certain Central European country. Legend says that a group of people (who may or may not have been campers) spotted it from a bar and decided to go borrow it in the middle of the night, scaling a castle wall that had up until that moment defended the city from invaders since medieval times. The flag was returned safely with an apology note a few days later.

The Party Camp

Everyone who went will testify that this was one of the wildest camps ever. Distortion was a street festival in Copenhagen where more than half a million people partied in the streets every day for a week. It was pure madness, and I don’t think there’s anything like it anywhere in the world. So we decided to host a camp during the same week where both Gianni Grippo and Kenan Cornelius were teaching. Incredibly enough, we actually managed to train quite a lot every single day!

Snowman Competition

When a team of Icelandic guys signed up for the first-ever snowman competition at the Winter Camp, we knew we could expect something out of the ordinary. Look at how proud they are of their art piece!

Kids’ Disco Night

We have done a lot of fun things for grownups at camp, but at the summer version of the Austria Camp, we’ve been trying to do the same for kids. One of the most fun things we’ve hosted has been the kids’ disco night. It’s approximately an hour of dancing with balloons, costumes, and glowsticks, but we often hear from the kids that they felt like it was all night long and the best night of their lives. So cute!

The First Winter Camp

The first Winter Camp in 2015 was a complete mess. We didn’t have much experience yet in organizing camps, and it showed. We all had a great time, but I slept a total of two hours in three nights and I was pretty sure I was going to pass out on the last day when I found myself basically all alone to load mats onto a truck and drive them to three different Judo clubs around the area. The later Winter Camps became better and better organized, and the only few little things we can report from there are minor occurrences, such as setting a bar on fire.

Techno Bunker

Where and how the Techno Bunker exactly started, I am not sure. But it has become a tradition that has spanned many of our camps now. Usually kicking off at midnight at some point during a camp week, it’s a lights-off, glow-in-the-dark, techno open mat.

There are many more fantastic memories I could add to this list but I will have to stick with this. Here is a little bonus slideshow with photos of good times at camps that I stumbled over when researching for this article:

Next stop is our one-hundredth camp, starting in two days. I am currently sitting in a strange, small castle hotel next to a highway just outside of Rome, finishing up this article before we head to the camp tomorrow, early in the morning. It’s been a long and wild ride to get to this milestone and I often stop to think how on earth we ended up here.

I deeply appreciate each and every one of you who decided to join us along the way, whether for a little bit or for many years.

Thank you ❤️