Nature Immersion & Movement Retreats - 2023
If you’re hungry for personal growth and a reconnection to play, body, nature, and community, Evolve Move Play offers our flagship retreat. Experience a more human vision of fitness and a roadmap toward a more heroic version of you!
There are moments in life when time seems to disappear.
Times when you’re completely embedded in the now.
When each moment is potent with meaning.
In those moments when we’re concentrating intensely, when we are deeply embodied. In the moments when we are embedded in rich environments and facing high consequences.
It’s in those moments we feel most alive.
This is the flow state.
Bringing meaning to life. Making experience optimal.
Imagine Your Heroic Self...
Swinging, vaulting, weaving lines through red cedars. Climbing slick stone through pounding water. Leaping from boulder to boulder while gulls wheel overhead.
Dancing, wrestling, striking in the sand. Chasing and evading through the forest. Connecting body to body with other humans. Growing through shared struggle.
Return to the Source is sitting quietly in the woods listening to birdsong. Feeling the wind on your skin. Immersing yourself in alpine lakes and waterfalls. Remembering to breathe.
Singing and storytelling around the campfire. Sharing home-cooked meals. Sweating in a wood-fired sauna. Plunging into cold water.
At Return to the Source, we share with you the most potent triggers of flow and the training tools to gain the most from them.
We share the tools to master your movement, reconnect to play, to nature, to self and to others.
We bring together movement practice, mindfulness, and nature connection.
Through the flow experience and through reconnecting to the elements missing from modern life, we recover a deep sense of meaning.
Through our practices we grow as humans, we gain insight, and share deeply meaningful experiences.
Reconnect to nature, movement, body, play, and tribe.
Come with us and connect into flow.
Evolve Move Play is a self cultivation practice combining movement, mindfulness, nature connection and community.
We believe movement is the best foundation for self cultivation as it teaches and informs us at all the levels of our human organism. When we learn courage, creativity, empathy & resilience through movement, these lessons are not just mental or emotional, but physical as well.
Movement practice is a laboratory for our character.
The Four Pillars of Movement
P1: Body Integrity
When our body systems are not well integrated, weak, or immobile, our structures perform poorly and we are at risk of injury.
Body integrity practices focus on building the resources of the body itself and the relationship between the various body systems.
- Isolated joint strengthening and mobility development exercises
- Elastic function development exercises
- Structural integration development exercises
P2: Body to Environment
Being able to move with grace, ease and flow through the environment is one of the most powerful experiences we can have. Parkour is the best general approach to the development of these abilities. Parkour in nature reconnects us with the environments that are most nourishing for us.
- The 6 elements of natural parkour
- Fundamental locomotor skills
- The Principles of Flow
- Aliveness games and drills
P3: Body to Object
Everyone loves the feel of a well aimed throw or a nifty catch. As humans we have a unique capacity to manipulate objects in our environment. For a complete development of our human potential, handling simple object manipulation becomes essential.
- Throwing, catching, juggling, swinging and striking games and drills
- Development of fundamental manipulation skills
P4: Body to Body
Finally, we need to be able to move well with other humans or animals. We are social creatures, a species of hunters and warriors. Play fighting and dancing are human universals.
We bring these together in combination with martial arts to develop more physically literate and competent human beings. Our aim is sensitivity in movement, focusing on well-coordinated partner movement, feats of acrobatics, and fundamentals of defense in violent encounters.
- Roughhousing & Contact improvisation games
- Fundamental martial arts skills & principles
Mindfulness practices give us a capacity to gain greater insight from our physical practice, better access to flow in our movement, and improved transfer from our movement practice into life. Physical skill is not sufficient in itself.
- Meditation is learning to control your attention.
- Contemplation is the pursuit of changing how you pay attention to the world.
The natural world can be read like a book. There are stories around us told by the shapes of the trees, by the tracks of the animals, the songs of the birds. As a culture, we have become nature illiterate. Reconnecting with these languages can offer a deep sense of meaning and connection.
- Nature games build awareness and sensitivity to the natural world, local flora and fauna, the language of birds and the lifestyles of animals in the Pacific Northwest.
- Discover nature awareness through sit spotting, nature walking, tracking and gathering.
As tribal creatures, we form our identities in relationships with other people, but our modern society has lost this connection. We feel disconnected and alienated, and desire to reconnect with community and friendship.
The retreat itself is the grounds for deep connection and we intentionally amplify that through:
- Dialoguing, Story telling, Shared meals,
- Music, Saunas and Cold Plunges
Seasonal Retreats! But When is it?
Return to the Source is our Flagship event, but due to popular demand we are now offering similar seasonal retreats!
Awaken Your Movement
🕰Length: 4.5 days
📅Event: May 17-21
The peak of the beauty of spring here in Washington, we will be coming together to awaken from the quiet and cold of winter. To return to adventures, and prepare for the intensity of summer.
Return to the Source
🕰Length: 8.5 days
📅Event: July 16-23
Return to the Source, the premier event of the EMP year at the peak of the northwest summer. For the deepest dive into the Evolve Move Play approach this is the one to attend.
🕰Length: 4.5 days
📅Event: September 13-17
As the frenetic energy of summer dissipates will your movement practice stall? Can you carry your practice into the fall and stay connected to nature? How will you adjust to the changing temperatures and the rhythms of the land and your body?
Where are we Going?
📍 Seattle + Bellingham in WA, USA
Join us for an epic adventure through sprawling trees, water carved creek beds, sandstone boulder strewn beaches and alpine meadows, lakes and snowfields.
Relax with us in the world famous Sunray Shire, a mecca of natural building, complete with tree houses, creek fed ponds, and a wood fired sauna.
A wonderland for treerunning in the heart of Seattle. Filled with sprawling Red Cedar trees, towering Sequoia Trees and complex Japanese Maples.
Larrabee State Park
The best rock running and bouldering area in the pacific lowlands. Beautiful forests and canyoned creeks. With unique sandstone boulders and beautiful sandy beaches.
Mt. Baker National Park
Witness the beautiful mountain grandeur. Snow capped peaks, giant glaciers and stratovolcano, alpine snowfields and lakes. It just doesn’t get more beautiful than this.
Whatcom Falls Park
A natural parkour jewel in the heart of Bellingham, WA. Fallen logs, steep slopes and exposed roots provide exceptional forest terrain. The real attraction here is the creek’s complex and varied sandstone boulders, cliff jumps, and the famous waterfall tunnel climb.
The SunRay Shire
The land where we will stay every night. A world famous natural building site, homesteaded by my family 100 years ago this year. With waterfalls, ponds, wood fired sauna, the bounty of nature and incredible natural building art all around us.
Who is this for?
If you are passionate about movement and nature, and want to develop a movement practice that will bring the most meaning to your life, then this experience is for YOU.
We crafted the EMP method to be adaptable to all levels. We’ve had students as young as 11 and as old as 73 join us with no difficulty. Our students have spanned the gamut from untrained novices to elite parkour and MMA athletes.
For experienced movers and teachers, not only will we be covering ways to use the materials with your own students and clients, but previous participants have continued to rave about the quality of our methods and how it has improved their own teaching for years after they took our seminars.
Whether you are a novice mover or expert movement instructor, our methods are fun and simple enough for you to be completely immersed with self transformation.
Asst. Athletic trainer for Seattle Seahawks
“I’ve changed my thinking on movement. It used to be very structured [with] movement time and workout time… Now I see opportunities for play and movement in everyday life. It’s definitely made me a lot happier. It’s exciting and fun to see something cool and go try it.
I think that’s one of the neatest things, rediscovering that passion for movement. It definitely opened up my eyes and was something I wanted to try and do to move more like a human.”
From no athletic history whatsoever…
That was probably one of the best things I’ve learned, to just find a better way, find my own way…
I didn’t expect to… find the person who could take me and my unique situation, both in the way that I’m built and the disability that I have, and make an athlete who can come up with these brand new things that nobody has seen before, and really learn to inspire other people.”
“I have to say Return to the Source was a life-changing experience for me. Having already made some major life changes – taking on a whole food focused career path, focusing on play and functional movement daily, and even moving out of the chaos of the Silicon Valley with my husband to a small town surrounded by forests and beaches – I entered into the experience at Return to the Source simply hoping to meet some new friends and to enjoy a weekend outside playing, moving, and being present. Well, I got all that and so much more.
Within the first couple hours, I knew my world had changed in a simple, yet fundamental way.
Rafe’s expertise not only built upon what I had already known to be true, but he gave me a whole new understanding and appreciation for what it means to be human. He taught me that the world around me, no matter where I might be, is a playground, a place where I can express myself through movement and play. He taught me that no matter how old I may be, there is always room for play.
He helped me to build confidence in my movement and gave me the tools to bring back to my life to continue to express and build upon. We jumped off waterfalls, traversed creeks woods and beaches, roughhoused, climbed trees, vaulted, somersaulted, camped, laughed, and communed.
I came home with a new passion for movement that transcends any view of fitness or health I had ever had before. I came home with a true appreciation of what it means to be healthy that, despite many years in the health and wellness world, I had never had before.
Daily play has reduced stress in my life so much that I no longer struggle with tension headaches. The beaches, forests, and mountains near my home have become my gym and my playground. I am able to meditate, climb, and play every day with a deeper understanding of what it is doing for my mind, body, and soul. My husband and I grew closer over the weekend, and I know our future kids will benefit from what we brought home. And I can’t wait till the next one. See you there!”
Varsity football, State hurdler in track and field
“Rafe is really good at identifying the individual characteristics of an athlete, and is able to structure a program specific to me and my body.
“The broad spectrum of movement Rafe has exposed me to has not only improved my adaptability as an athlete, but also as a person.”
From apprentice to Head Coach
“I got to overcome not only my own issues with my body, but also learned to love my body through movement”
“Instead of playing video games where I get to experience an adventure, my life is more about experiencing the adventure I always wish I could’ve had.”
West Coast Parkour Championship 1st place overall 2019
“Over the past five years I’ve had the opportunity to be coached by, train with, and develop a friendship with Rafe. Throughout this time, Rafe’s passion for movement has been incredibly evident. It is this passion and his breadth of experience that shows in his perspicuous coaching style; he’s able to individualize his approach and cuing to what a student needs and can understand at their current level.
I began my parkour experience under Rafe’s coaching as an apt novice, and now even as an advanced traceur, he continues to inspire and encourage my growth as an athlete. Without a doubt, my steady progression towards the athlete I am today has been accelerated thanks to Rafe. Even my current coaching style has rooted from the days when Rafe was my mentor. He and I both share an interest in the biomechanics behind what gives movement it’s quality – his curiosity and diligence on studying the matter in a methodical way has inspired me to develop a similar, in-depth approach to my own coaching.”
HOW WE TEACH
EMP is unique in addressing the complete human athletic blueprint. We train in a manner that is consistent with how we evolved to move and how we evolved to learn movement.
Our pedagogy is based on 17 years of experience in the field. Extensive study of motor learning theory, and its intersections with ecological psychology, dynamical systems theory, play research, and ethnography, as well as the study of biomechanics and human physiology.
The fundamental principle is that humans evolved a specific nature. Humans evolved specific motor abilities to solve the problems of their environments, they evolved as social animals and they evolved with inherent motor learning strategies. Training has to respect all elements of that nature.
Founder Rafe Kelley is a force in the natural movement community and within the broader movement and parkour world. You can find him in multiple places online, including his TEDx talk titled “Driven by Play.” You can also hear him on numerous health and well-being podcasts including our own Evolve Move Play Podcast.
Rafe has been published in the Journal of Ancestral Health and has spoken at Paleo Fx and the Ancestral Health Symposium. He co-founded Parkour Visions and organized the first international parkour event in the United States.
He also popularized tree running, natural parkour, and roughhousing as essential components of natural movement.
Kyle Koch is a former IT Software technician turned nature nerd.
Kyle quit his 9-5 office job in 2011 to enroll in the Wilderness Awareness Schools 9-month Immersion program in Duvall, WA.
He spent the following 8 years both studying and working with WAS, before setting off on his own.
Along the way Kyle met Rafe and found synergy with his work with Evolve Move Play.
Together they have joined forces to help others reconnect with the natural world and their gifts through exploration, play and curiosity.
He has been facilitating transformative experience in nature for over a decade: using the combination of nature skills, movement practice and community practices can help us create a more meaningful life.
When not teaching or facilitating you can find Kyle foraging for food through parkour and natural movement and exploring ways to deepen his connection with himself, others and the Earth.
“EMP has changed the way I see and interact with the world. Bringing play, adventure, and meaning back into my life!”
Aaron Cantor is the founder of Primal Practice, an innovative way to support wellness through playfully developing mindfulness and movement skills. He is also a bodyworker, personal trainer, yogi, and movement generalist. He lives in Western Massachusetts, USA with his boys Bodhi and Jasper and teaches workshops around the world.
Aaron has spent over 15 years collecting, creating, contemplating and refining the material he presents in his workshops, and he’s been an integral part of the Evolve Move Play coaching team since 2021.
In addition to his extensive movement background, Aaron has an incredible gift for the crafting and telling of stories, which has become a key feature of our seasonal retreats.
Browse through the FAQs below, send us a Message/ DM, book a call or
email me directly at [email protected]
If you can walk or run, you’re ready for us! We’ve had students of all ages and levels from 11 to 70’s come join us and have a blast!
Some of the students you see in our videos learned these amazing movements while training with us. This seminar is for all movement backgrounds whether you’re an elite athlete, coach, or just getting started.
We evolved to run, jump, and climb, and have natural instincts for what is safe. Any athletic activity carries some risk, but these movement practices are far less dangerous than they are usually believed to be.
Our approach focuses on helping you progressively learn your own limits. Over the history of our teaching, our injury rate is less than half that of more mainstream sports like playing soccer.
With our roughhousing we introduce elements like lifts, striking, and grappling only after teaching breakfalls and developing good partnering techniques. We start with games that have strong safety limitations before progressing as students’ competency grows.
While we ask students to gently push their personal limits, we never ask or expect students to “keep up” or perform beyond their capabilities. We want to teach you to listen to your body; this is the most powerful safety protocol.
We encourage you to continue practicing and build the seminar so you can effectively continue the practice afterwards. You will learn wonderful things to share with training partners, friends and family.
If you are a coach yourself, we are happy to have you use the material you learn, so long as you cite our work and do not try to use our name without an EMP certification.
- Athletic clothes
- Swim gear
- Rain gear (just in case)
- A water bottle
- Sun protection if desired
- Camping gear if you choose to camp
- Musical equipment, movement toys, bushcraft projects, and anything else you would like to share during down times
- A notebook & writing implements
- Most importantly, your taste for adventure and spirit of play
We would be happy to offer a group discount for multiple attendees. Contact me directly at [email protected] or book a call to secure your group.
For our 8 day Return to the Source retreat, you will want to arrive in the Seattle area by the morning of July 30th and plan to fly out in the evening of the 6th or afterwards.
Our retreats start off in Seattle, Washington, we will stay there one night before traveling up to the Sun Ray Shire for 6 nights in Bellingham. For the night in Seattle ask about staying in an AirBnB compared with a local host.
Because our seminars are often in high demand and extend over multiple days, we need to know who can come far in advance. This allows our team time to prepare an amazing, custom experience for everyone.
Refunds are available after an initial, non-refundable deposit of $400 and prior to 90 days before RTTS or 60 days before seasonal retreats.
If you have a serious illness or injury, please contact me directly at [email protected] and we can discuss your particular situation.
If you would like to sponsor one of our retreats, events, or online programs, we’d like to first identify a consistent set of values and messaging. If you feel like this is your organization, please email me directly at [email protected]
If you simply love us and have a community that needs to hear about what we offer, we would be happy to support you during our next launch. Please share your story with us, what you love, what you’d like to promote and who you can share it with, and we would be happy to continue the conversation at [email protected]
For group rates, please contact [email protected]
What Are You Waiting For?
IT’S YOUR TIME
Embody a stronger, more adaptable, anti-fragile version of yourself.
Become a happier human through the power of a natural movement tribe.