- Camp Getaway -This Is What Glen From 'Camp Getaway' Is Really All About
While most kids were at adventure camps making tie dye t-shirts and comparing the sizes of mosquito bites and hickies, Glen North, 31, was at the University of Virginia’s Summer Enrichment program taking his favorite class, “Where Science and Sea Monsters Meet.” It was at this “nerd camp” (his words, not mine, but they would also be mine) where Glen learned what it takes to be social.
In order to succeed at camp, at work, in life, you need to be able to “go up to someone and say, ‘Hi, my name's Glen, what's your name?'" he tells me. This combination of friendliness and confidence makes for a great social coordinator, tour guide, and personal trainer — lucky for Glen, he's all three — and on Bravo's newest series Camp Getaway, we get to see him in his element.
The series (Mondays, starting May 4 at 10 p.m. ET on Bravo) follows the same very successful rubric as Below Deck, but instead of a rotating door of yacht guests on a mega yacht with a permanent crew, it's a rotating door of adult campers at a weekend-long summer camp with permanent social coordinators.
Before we get into my conversation with Glen, here's what you need to know about the show and the camp: Each weekend, hundreds of adults go to Camp Getaway (actually known off-air as Club Getaway) in Kent, Conn., for the pleasure of acting like a kid again, except this time around they're taller, drunker, and have less common sense. And each weekend, the social coordinators (social coordinators are like a combination of a rookie deckhand and second stew on Below Deck, and for what it's worth, it's hard not to call them "counselors," it really is) have the pleasure of making sure these adult campers' dreams come true.
The series focuses on the cast of eight social coordinators whose job descriptions could be a combination of the aforementioned deckhand and stew, but also, bat mitzvah party motivator, psychologist, arts and crafter, Task Rabbit, barfly, and actually, let me let Glen explain his job:
"The job of the social coordinator [is] to kind of be the example for people. Like, we're going to show you how free and easy we can be and how much fun we're having, and that kind of gives them permission to come out of their shells a little bit, to let loose, to be whoever they want to be right now," he tells me. Thank you, Glen!
Social coordinators all share a cabin (it's air-conditioned, I asked) on the 300-acre campus and arrive at Camp Getaway every summertime Friday evening and leave Sunday afternoon. Camp is a little less than two hours north of Manhattan, and campers and coordinators can take a party bus up there, or drive.
Glen only took the bus once — "but oh my God, it was so fun. I should have done every time" — the other weekends he drove up with fellow cast mate/social coordinator Neely Fortune. (That time together on the drive is where they bonded, he says. "The thing I'm most excited about in the show is you guys get to see Neely and I become best friends.")
It's a whirlwind 60 hours: Each weekend brings a different theme, which brings different campers. It could be a young professionals weekend, a 40+ weekend, an LGBTQ weekend, you name it. The Gen-X themed weekend, FYI, is slated for July 10-12 (assuming Camp is able to open), and currently costs about $429 per camper. The price includes lodging, gourmet meals (the food on the show looks incredible!), beer and wine, and a billion activities. Campers can purchase liquor à la carte.
"Each weekend had a different feel to it, a different vibe," Glen says. Some campers come ready to have a great time and don't need too much social lubrication. "There are people that are like, oh my God, the doors to their van opened, and you could smell the vodka. They got the party started, it didn't take much help!" On other weekends, Glen and his fellow social coordinators had to work for it. "We kind of had to pull it out of them like, 'Hey come onto the dance floor, come and do a shot with me!'"
(It's worth mentioning here that drinking seems to be the sixth man on the show, with booze flowing at every hour of the day. I ask Glen how we was able to manage all the partying: "Oh yeah, girl. It's funny, I'm not really that much of a drinker. I really don't drink outside of camp but it's kind of, you're right, it is very much sort of the culture. We tried to pace ourselves as much as we could, but sometimes it's easier than others.")
In the Camp Getaway premiere, Glen is everything you could want from a social coordinator: He delivers great one liners (when untwining a whole, roasted pig, Glen quips, "I mean, I love bondage, but this is a little much!"); he wears glittery blue eye-shadow to the Saturday night party (while getting ready in the bunk, he tells his fellow social coordinators, "I hope you guys are ready for there to be glitter in the bathroom, always"); and he advises his cast mates that it's better to ask for forgiveness than for permission. It's camp and reality TV gold, but he hopes that over the course of the season, you get to see the real him.
When Glen and I chatted over the phone, he was in Falls Church, Va. He relocated from New York City down to Virginia to live with his mother in January, which marked the one-year anniversary of his father's death. Before that, Glen was a New York City tour guide, a bartender, an actor, a personal trainer, you name it. It was the devastating loss of his dad that inspired him to take a chance on the show.
"I was in kind of rut [last year] and I just wanted to get out of my own head" he says. "I wanted something new. I wanted to have a different experience." Bravo came knocking at the perfect time. He'd never heard of Camp Getaway, but jumped at the opportunity to "re-find joy again," as he puts it.
Glen went up to Connecticut for a trial weekend without cameras, and was instantly hooked. It was amazing, he says, and described it as "everything we loved about camp as a kid, but with the drinking games and as an adult." Drinking games, and reality TV show cameras, that is.
When he told his family and friends that he was going to be on a reality show, most were excited for him, but some of them were apprehensive. They didn't want Glen to be portrayed as a stereotype, which he understood.
When he was growing up, the only queer story he was exposed to was NBC's Will & Grace. "That was the only archetype of a gay person that was accessible to me. I remember thinking, OK, I'm not Will or Jack, so I must not be gay." He wants to continue to change that binary, and loves that there is so much great LGBTQ content out there today. "Honestly, one of the reasons I did the show was so that somebody in middle America who doesn't get to see gay people, who is watching Bravo with his mom, gets to say, oh wow, I see myself in that person."
He hopes the show becomes a positive platform where viewers can see him as a "somewhat masculine presenting guy" who's totally comfortable wearing a dress, glitter, and makeup. "I was really intentional about showing different sides of me and kind of letting people see that, which they may not get to see on Bravo that much."
Glen really trusts the Bravo producers and editors, he says — "It's in both our best interest to show me as a complete person" — but getting used to being filmed is a whole other story.
For one, Glen says, the cameras definitely took time to get used to. "We could be having a totally normal conversation, and then the cameras go on you, and you feel watched. It's like when you're in real life, and you suddenly know that someone's listening in. You're just very aware of it," he says. Eventually — and everyone says this is what happens — he started to forget they were there, but it took him a while to remember that he didn't have lines.
"That was new. Like wait, isn't someone going to tell me what to say right now? No? Okay," he says with a chuckle.
Before Camp Getaway, Glen acted in some indie films. The long hours on movie sets helped him prepare for the long hours at camp. "We're going from literally 8 a.m. until midnight or two every single day," he says about camp. "Not only are we being watched, but also we're just going, going, going, going the whole day."
And over the course of those long days, you get to know not only your fellow social coordinators and campers — "you make these connections [with the campers] really quickly, and then they sort of just disappear. There was one weekend where my friends got to come and that was obviously my favorite weekend, so watch out for that one," he says — but you also get to know the production crew, too.
In fact, one of the camera guys is a Bravolebrity himself. Remember on Below Deck (Season 6, episode 10, to be exact) when Ashton Pienaar went overboard and a camera guy stepped in to save his life by untangling the line that was going to pull Ashton underwater? That cameraman, Brent Freeburg, worked at Camp Getaway last summer. When the cast found out there was a celebrity in their midst, Glen says, "We were like, 'Oh my God!' We were so excited."
He continues: "It was funny, when we first started, they were like, 'Pretend the camera people aren't there, ignore them completely.' But we're around these people for 24 hours!" he says. "We used to try and make them laugh and if they laughed at something we said, we were like, 'Oh, that was good. We got them.'"
Glen doesn't know what's in store for this summer, because no one does. He hopes to return to camp, and he hopes there's a Season 2, but with the state of Coronavirus right now, nothing about the future, especially when it comes to a gathering of people at a camp, is certain.
All he can do is focus on the now. "I'm really curious to see what people think of the show," he says. "I'm just hoping that I get to use my 15 seconds of fame for something good."
Camp Getaway airs Monday nights at 10 p.m. ET on Bravo.
Read more about the Camp Getaway cast:
- Neely Fortune Is An Ultra-Marathoner Who’s Training To Be A ‘Camp Getaway’ Reality Star
- ‘Camp Getaway’s Nile Lundgren Was Born To Be A Bravo Reality Star
- Adam Is Preparing For ‘Camp Getaway’ In One Way: “Therapy”
- ‘Camp Getaway’s Dr. Monica Talks Transition From Normal Person To Reality Star — And Reveals Which ‘Housewife’ Came To Camp
- ‘Camp Getaway’s Sophia Says The Show’s Trailer Was “Hard To Watch”
- Randall From ‘Camp Getaway’ Talks FOMO, Reality TV, & The Advice She Got From A ‘Below Deck’ Star
Feature image: Bravo Media