Today I could finally announce the first ever attempt at a Castle Camp. Organizing this one hasn’t been easy; if someone made a business analysis of this project, I’m sure they would conclude that the amount of time, risk and work put into it would in no way make sense. But I had my reasons for doing this.
First, the BJJ Globetrotters camp locations this year have been chosen from a secret business model that I can’t yet speak about (give me a week or so as it will reveal the rest of the camps). Second, I’ve always wanted to try and live in a castle and if any one person in the world can pull off a Jiu Jitsu camp in one, it must be me. So I see it as kind of my duty to do it.
I’ve spent more time planning this camp than any other of the 30 camps I’ve hosted so far. It all started almost a year ago when I hired one of my assistants to go research every possible castle she could find and figure out for each and every one of them:
- Contact information
- Type of castle
- Distance to nearest airports
- Number and configuration of beds
- Cost of rental with variable of guests and number of nights
- Cost of food delivery
- Cost of transport from airports
- Cost of cleaning
- Square meters of flat space for mats
- Cost of delivery of new mats to location
- Booking and cancellation terms
On top of this, for a castle to make the list, it had to fit certain criteria for number of rooms, flat space for mats, location etc.
After more than half a year of research, we ended up with a monster of a list with 114 castles that fit the bill. I personally think it is one of the most beautiful spreadsheets I’ve ever made :D
Once the list was compiled, I took over and started contacting them one at a time. I’ve spent months calling and emailing every one of them to dig even deeper into the details of the places to figure out which were suitable for a camp. The list was boiled down to 17 candidates of which I have been going very far in negotiations.
Now, I’ll be honest. When I had the idea of a camp in a castle, I had imagined something very medieval. Where we could all dress up as knights and wear full body amor all day. Unfortunately, after going through what I think is every castle in existence on the planet, I must conclude that no such castle is suitable for a camp at the moment, either in terms of rooms, space, budget, quality, location etc.
But I did end up with one that I in particular liked. A more than 1000 year old castle on the most beautiful, secluded hill in Italy, just 15 minutes from an international airport. I spent three months talking and negotiating with the owner almost daily – going back and forth on all the details, budgets and possible setups that could work. We’ve been over the possibility of hosting 50+ people at the castle for a budget camp with tents and make-your-own-food to a super, luxury, VIP experience and everything in between. Also necessary has been to try and predict every single thing that can possible go wrong – big or small – and prepare for it already now. There is no room for failure once everything is launched.
I have been incredibly nervous about pushing the button on this one, but I’m confident we’ve ended up with the best castle and the best camp model. I’ve just today paid a whopping deposit to rent the entire place; my banker called to check on me. Next step is now to perform and live up to the expectations that the participants (and myself) have for this one. There’s no turning back now, at least. I have to live in a castle in May with my friends. Fuck yes.