The Denver-based DateCamp.tv is not a dating website in the traditional sense. Rather, it's a hub for learning the ins and outs of dating itself. DateCamp is designed as a three-pronged entity: a dating resource center, a place offering interactive retreats and camps and, once it gets going, the owners plan to create a full-fledged reality TV series about, well, dating.
"We like to say that we're not an online dating site -- our goal is not to hook up people," explains Doug Hanes, DateCamp's executive producer.
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But Hanes acknowledges that when single people get together -- as he hopes they will when DateCamp officially launches its weekend retreats later this summer -- there will inevitably be some connections. "Anyone with an imagination knows that if sixty people come (together) on a weekend retreat at a nice resort, hook-ups are going to occur. We don't discourage that, but that's not our primary goal. Our primary goal is the educational component -- and to teach them to become better daters," says Hanes.
The better dating will come as DateCamp users access video tutorials, tips, tricks and articles that have been available on the website since its official launch last December.
"As we were developing -- the reality show, initially -- the concepts just kind of came about in a natural progression: What if we were able to actually hold camps where people could come and learn how to become better daters and better people?" explains Hanes.
Hanes and DateCamp's executive director, Jalynn Venis, both had years of experience in telelvision production -- which is why the site started out as a reality TV pilot. But the two saw a much greater, more interactive potential.
"I thought, this could be a real program, totally separate from the TV series. What we're trying to do with DateCamp is kind of bring it all under one umbrella. That way, someone can come to the site and get a lot of information on whatever topic they may be looking for," says Hanes.
These topics -- from simple dating etiquette to more complex relationship issues -- are all addressed by actual dating coaches, experts that visitors can connect with directly through the site.
"Most of the coaches are local at this point -- when it comes to dating and relationship coaches, they all specialize in something different. We've tried to assemble a well-rounded blend of coaches," says Hanes. "Some, like our program director Joanna Kennedy, cover intimacy and relationships. Other coaches give straight dating advice -- what to wear on a first date, who pays on a first date. Real basic stuff."
The next step for DateCamp, he says, is to attract some sponsors that will propel the website financially into a place where its experts and retreats can be accessed by users nationally.
"At this point, we honestly see major online dating sites as the perfect sponsors for us; If you look at an online dating site, its primary function is to put people together," says Hanes. "But very few of them actually help their members become better daters. We figured DatecCamp would be such a good complement to them if we can say, hey, come here and learn how to become a better dater -- then go to the online dating site and the chances of you finding a sucessful relationship are a lot greater."
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Though DateCamp's retreats haven't officially begun, the website will be co-hosting two workshops: the Igniting Romance Playshop and Conscious Lovers Evening, with DateCamp coach Joanna Kennedy on Saturday, May 18, at the Journeys for Conscious Living, 5855 Wadsworth Bypass #100 in Arvada. For more information, visit the event's website.