Tyler Oakley

Bethany Mota and Tyler Oakley take fans to summer camp

A new initiative from Mills Entertainment and CAA taps a growing appetite among Gen Z members to engage IRL with their favorite online stars.
February 22, 2016

The marketing world is still learning about Gen Z and the particular preferences of this growing demographic of tech-native digital content consumers.

But already companies are experimenting in the space with live events that blend an increasing appetite among young viewers for those so-called IRL (that’s “in real life” for anyone over 20 years) experiences with their favorite online stars.

Camp 17 falls into this category.

The fan event is the latest offering from live-event group Mills Entertainment, in cooperation with Creative Artists Agency (CAA). Together, they’ve created a series of themed summer camps specifically designed to allow their target demo (in this case teens and tweens, age 10 to 16 years) to interact with popular digital influencers.

Bethany Mota and Tyler Oakley are among those who’ve signed up to headline the initial six-day camp, which kicks off Aug. 21 at Camp Wah-Nee in Torrington, CT. Fees start at $1,095.

Like summer camps everywhere, participants will swim, play sports and engage in various art projects. At the same time, they get to hang out offline with Mota (who has 9.8 million subscribers on YouTube) and Oakley (7.9 million subscribers).

The unplugged aspect offered by the camp experience is an important element in connecting with Gen Z. Much like older millennials, this is a generation of digital natives, the vast majority of which is completely hooked on streaming content, mainly over their smartphones. At the same time, a recent study by Wildness, AwesomenessTV’s marketing and research firm, most Gen Z members (89%) feel they need a daily digital detox, with at least half taking a break from their tech toys and tools every day in order to hang out with friends and family.

YouTubers Meghan Rienks (2.1 million subscribers) and Connor Franta (5.2 million subscribers) will also take part in the initiative, hosting their own specialty camps. Rienks will host “Camp A.I.M” (authentic, inspiration, motivation) on Memorial Day weekend in Southern California at David Oved Retreat Center. The four-day, three-night girls-only camp will focus on self-empowerment for young girls, with classes on theater, fitness and art.

Franta will headline the Creator Camp at Camp Beber in Mukwonago, WI. Over the course of five days, Franta will teach attendees about the creative and technical aspects of social media influence, from shooting and editing video to writing and self-marketing.

Live events are, increasingly, a big part in a YouTuber’s career. Oakley and Rienks, for instance, have both embarked on a live stage tours, as has YouTuber powerhouse Lilly Singh. Mills Entertainment produced both Oakley and Singh’s tours.

Mills will also produced Camp 17 events following “overwhelming consumer demand” for live experiences with digital native talent, said company president Mike Mills in a statement.

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