Study after study, including the longest-term study on human happiness conducted over 80 years at Harvard, clearly and repeatedly show that it is the quality of our relationships that has the highest impact on our well-being and sense of purpose in our lives.
Everything we do, at its root, is for well-being. Decisions about our job, our house, our partner, are all made with the goal of well-being. All we do is for happiness. And yet, there is a woeful lack of education in helping to enable that deep seated well-being.
The word education derives from the word educe, ‘to bring out or develop.’ Education should bring out and develop the aspects of us that we consider most important, so there is a painful irony that in the roughly 20,000 hours most people attend ‘school’ growing up, very little time is spent on what matters most to our well-being:
The result is that depression, anxiety, stress, and loneliness are all increasing at an accelerating rate — especially in young adults. It is hard to wrap our heads around the statistic that 9% of high school students attempted suicide in the past year. Of course, attempted suicide is only the tip of the iceberg revealing the level of distress in our young communities at large — the suffering youth are the canaries in the coalmine, alerting us to the lack of health in our communities at large. This is a clarion call for widespread and systemic shifts, and young people’s lives are at stake.
Parents can’t handle this alone — it is a systemic issue. The school system evolves slowly, and lags behind our understanding of our needs. And this work is not easy work — to prioritize thriving means prioritizing aliveness over comfort and numbing, moving through our individual and collective challenges instead of avoiding them.
Young adults are already in a once-in-a-lifetime transition: leaving home, forming a new group of friends, in their most independent stage of life yet. They are as malleable as they will ever be (many of us begin looking inward in our 30s or 40s, after deepening unskillful habit patterns for decades). And they are seeking it: courses on happiness at top universities like Yale and Stanford are often the highest subscribed electives on campus. Young adulthood is potentially the highest impact moment to intervene in someone’s life and give them the tools for the rest of it - a Goldilocks zone for personal evolution and transformation.
From this insight and desire for maximal impact, Sleepawake Camp was born — a bootcamp, but one for the mind, heart, body, and spirit. A place to learn the difficult skills that few of us are taught. Everything from self-awareness and metacognition, to how to regulate yourself during emotional intensity, navigating through conflict, owning your desires in your life, expressing your full creativity, not acting out of obligation, to how to cook for yourself and so much more.
The first step in executing this vision is proving our program creates lasting shifts in participants’ well-being. The changes are clear from our first run:
These shifts represent changes four months after the program, well beyond the 6-week standard considered to predict that shifts integrate long-term. Campers left reporting a 100% extreme satisfaction rate with 72% of participants ranking it the most transformative experience of their lives. Several of these shifts (e.g. authenticity, feeling powerful) continue to increase naturally as these life skills are practiced over time. These are real skills developed that will continue to improve these young adults’ lives for the rest of their years.
We will work with universities to have their students participate in our programming, eventually showing that the well-being of the entire campus is significantly improved when a critical mass of students has experienced what we offer. The greatest potential for our work is to create new norms in culture that lead to deeper flourishing and well-being. We are seeking partnerships to infuse this into broader educational streams.
We’ve seen STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education) turn into STEAM when the arts were recognized as a critical part of our education. We would like to turn STEAM into ESTEAM, finally adding emotional health at the helm of our educational priorities — to raise individuals who relate deeply to one another, can work through their differences, can sustain attention when they want, can stay well-regulated in their bodies during stress, and learn to trust the beautiful intelligence inside their emotions and bodies.
Our long-term vision is that our culture puts flourishing at the center stage of our education, and we raise happy beings — reconnected to their power, their innate goodness, their wholeness, and their capability. This is an end in itself — to live happy lives — but the ramifications are real. How will we address the world’s challenges differently from a place of wholeness and flourishing, rather than anxiety and collapse?
How we are with one another must reflect the vision we hold for the world. These are the values that guide our work.
We are bound to one another through the fabric of life and so we selfishly work toward making deep well-being normal in this shared world. We work with intention, trust, and lightheartedness to bring forth our creativity, inspiration, and compassion to live into our mission
We trust that every voice is important. We encourage team members, campers, facilitators to speak what is true for them, especially if it is something they would be reluctant to share. We learn together that there is no part of anyone that is shameful or wrong, but always a wise adaptation at the root of every impulse. By building communities grounded in trust and love we continue to grow together.
There is so much energy for creation embedded in our excitement and joy. The bold, brilliant new idea comes from letting ourselves have fun together. We learn to be playful with our self-seriousness, so there is nothing we can’t hold together.
We can only be of service to others if we first attend to our own health and vitality. We commit to taking care of our bodies, so we can fully show up for each other and this work.
Showing up to our relationships fully and honestly lets others actually meet us. Speaking from our hearts ensures that we say what matters most. We commit to taking full responsibility for our experiences and how we show up.
This project is our heart’s and mind’s response to a collective call for attention on the state of our wellbeing. We will ground ourselves in this larger picture while we listen carefully for what is needed. We commit to welcoming reflections of our blindspots, so we can move from inspiration and love.
Well, sort of. Sleepawake focuses on emotional and relational wellness, but does not provide medical care or professional mental health services. We welcome applicants with mental health diagnoses, but use the application process to check that it's a mutual fit.
Sleepawake is not religious. Religion is, of course, welcome.
Sleepawake is a substance-free camp, not because we think drugs are outright bad, but because they can alter the way people interact with their internal emotional landscape, often numbing or disconnecting us from ourselves. Sleepawake also uses confidentiality, as it is a container space for the people attending. There are other agreements that we require applicants to accept in order to attend. For more information, feel free to contact us.
The program cost is $7,495 per student. Financial assistance is available.
Sleepawake doesn't use a specific program, modality, or theory of practice. Instead, it uses many! The combined experience of our team allows us to embrace all sorts of practices and use them in tandem.