Nature Immersion & Movement Retreats
📅Awaken your Movement: 2023
(2023 Dates Coming Soon)
📅Return to the Source: July 17 - 25th
📅Autumn Adventure: Sep 14th-19th
(3 Spots Remaining)
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.
“Ultimately, this is so much more than a physical experience of returning to the physical aspects of what makes us human. It is about returning to community, returning to human connection and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable with others, and just having fun. This was quite honestly one of the best experiences of my life and I would love to be able to attend again.” - Jamie R.
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.
Within the movement practices itself we
focus on 4 pillars:
P1: Body Integrity practices
P2: Body to Environment practices
P3: Body to Object practices
P4: Body to Body practices
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
“It’s odd to think about how powerful that one jump has been in my life. I mean, speaking literally, it’s just a jump between two rocks, but I draw on that experience all the time. Not JUST when I’m faced with physical challenges, but when I need to find the courage to speak up, to be more authentic, to be vulnerable, to try something new, to stop the internal dialogue that says “who are you to think you can do this.” - Maura R.
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 18-22nd
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 17 - July 25th
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 14-19th
Early Bird 3: (SAVE $400) Before May 31th
Early Bird 2: (SAVE $200) Before June 21
Full Price: Before July 19th
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?
"My Evolve Move Play experience was as profound as it was wildly playful 😁
I felt new parts of myself come alive as we moved through trees and over ground and rocks and each other and it was so exhilarating! That weekend was truly a pinnacle of joy and deep connection to the earth and tribe." - Caitlin M.
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.
"Such a wholesome experience, I feel more connected to my natural side, leading up to this I was looking for meaning in my life, I was stuck in a rut- go to work, eat, sleep and repeat. EMP got me back in nature and feeling whole...
I wish I could properly explain how AMAZING this experience was, you’ll have to see for yourself. 11/10 rating from me!" - Blake Q.
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.”
“I've done two workshops with EMP and loved them both. The facilitators I've had, Rob Lansdell, Kyle Koch, & Rafe Kelley, are all incredible human beings, as well as skilled facilitators. They not only bring play, fun, & functionality to movement, but they also incorporate elements of psychology, human connection, and inspiration. The workshops are about connecting with self, others, and nature, reconnecting to play, and challenging your mind and body to step out of its comfort zone and explore one's full potential. I'm grateful something like EMP exists and think more people should know about it!” - Kira O.
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.
Coach Robert Lansdell began his movement practice at the age of 15 when he joined his local Wing Chun school. Within a year and a half he began the instructor training course and has been working as a martial arts instructor, personal trainer and movement coach ever since.
By the time he joined the EMP team in 2016 he had gained three years of experience as a climbing arborist which contributed greatly to his knowledge of trees as well as his love of nature, climbing tall things, and pushing his comfort zone.
In addition to teaching at our retreats, Robert also runs a number of EMP classes in the Seattle/Tacoma area and has taken over instruction of our traveling two-day seminars alongside coach Kyle Koch.
Kyle is our resident wilderness awareness expert, our master of ceremonies, and our trickster character. He has trained parkour for 7 years, martial arts and general movement arts for many years, he is a graduate of the Anake wilderness awareness school and was their outreach coordinator for 5 years.
"EMP has changed the way I see and interact with the world. Bringing play, adventure, and meaning back into my life!"
“People come into one’s life by chance. Very few of these random interactions leave such a profound positive impact that one shudders to think the path life would have taken otherwise. I consider having met and worked with Rafe one of the interactions in my life; one so holistically rich that I struggle to put a monetary value on it.” - Kam L.
Browse through the FAQs below, send us a Message/ DM, book a call or
email me directly at [email protected]
Do I need to be skilled at parkour? I wonder if I am too old? Too fat? Too young? Too much of a novice?
Is this dangerous?
Can I use this in my movement style when I return home?
What should I bring?
Can I bring my spouse or a guest?
I’m trying to book my travel. What do I need to know? Where do I stay?
What is the refund/ cancelation policy if I cannot attend?
Where can I find out about sponsoring, referring a friend, or becoming an affiliate of EMP events/ products?
“My experience with EMP was an amazing one. I left the seminar with so much more gratitude for myself, my body, and trees! Going in to this seminar I wasn’t 100% sure what I was getting myself into. In my life, I’ve made it a priority to find moments where I find myself being comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. Kyle and the rest of the EMP staff made it possible for this to happen, and ran the seminar in a way that gave me the opportunity to regain confidence in my body and self... many of us were able to feel comfortable and at ease as each of us worked towards pushing a new edge... I’m really looking forward to how much more I can “Evolve” as I continue to “Move” and “Play” outdoors. Thanks again!” - Aaron B.