Spartan Race Founder Joe De Sena on His Camps for Kids

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Joe De Sena

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Joe De Sena is the CEO and founder of "Spartan" and the "Death Race". He is also a NY Times best selling author of "Spartan Up", "Spartan Fit" and "The Spartan Way".

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Transcript

What are you thinking about pulling the trigger on? What am I adding or taking away? What are you adding? I love this kids thing. I mean if you, you know, that's why I asked you about stand-up comedy versus the podcast or anything you do. If you put a gun to my head or a knife like you did earlier when you tested me. I like the kids. The kids are like wet clay in the sense that... You really feel like you make an impact on the future. I feel like I make an impact. We didn't talk about this. I've been getting some 21 or 22 year olds from very very wealthy families that are saying, Hey Joe, they know me through somebody whatever. My kids are a little... they need some help. I want to put them on the farm with you. They're hard to fix. By the time they're 21, 22, they're hard to fix. These little kids, I make a big impact. I mean the letters I got are tearjerkers after the text I saw them writing the parents about how terrible I was. And then seeing 14 days later like the impact. I want more. You know? No, I think you're dead right about that. If you can give a kid a transformational experience when they're young, something that really sticks with them. That's the rest of their life. And the other thing I like about it is they can't really quit. You know, if the parent gets involved then it's all fucked up. But if the parent stays out of it, we're doing amazing. I'm doing another one right now while I'm sitting here. I got another 20 kids there right now. They're there in Vermont right now? Who's cracking the whip? Andy the Olympian, the Mount Morpher guy, Eric Ashley. And they're kicking these kids' asses. So you're running this every two weeks with new groups? I mean it's selfish for me because I want my kids to keep just re-enlisting. And so I need more kids for them. And so I just hit up another group and some of the old kids came. So this is their second tour, we'll call it. Yeah, which is great. One of them is an 11 year old girl that's just badass stoic. And one of the older boys I found out last night when I got to California is hitting his dad up and saying, You gotta get me out of here. You gotta lie to Joe and tell him we have a family vacation and get me the fuck out of here. How old is the oldest? 15. And the dad hit me up and I said, Listen, next time he talks to you, tell him we have an 11 year old girl by his side that is finishing this thing. Are you kidding me? You can't blame them because they've never tested themselves. They've never done hard things. But I love it. How are you structuring this? Do you sit out in advance and decide what they're going to do every day? So Andy, the Olympic wrestler, when he, 2008 Olympian, didn't medal, went to Russia. And he spent a couple years in Russia to learn their system. Why do the Russians get all these gold medals in wrestling? And they climb mountains and they climb ropes. And they just fucking work hard. Not that American wrestlers don't. And so we took a bunch of that Russian system. We took a bunch of the mountain warfare stuff. And then we just added the Spartan sprinkles in there. And the stuff my mom... The Spartan sprinkles. And so they're waking up early. They're hiking the mountain. They're doing miserable shit carrying rocks. Always purposeful. So we're building stuff out of the rocks. They'll be there for the test of time. And so they could come back and see the efforts of their work. Cold water is always involved. Because as you said with the shower, cold water sucks. Do they drink only water as well? They drink only water. All the Doritos, all that stuff is gone. It's only three meals a day. It's healthy food. Probably keeping a little bit hungry. Because, you know, a lion is most handsome when it's hungry. Is that true? Yeah. I mean, it wants food. I've never heard that. Most handsome when they're hungry. Right? It's ready to attack. So yeah, in bed early. We are issuing phones for 30 minutes. They get to text or call their parents or whatever. 30 minutes. We're doing two days on. This particular camp is much more wrestling focused. So two days on. And then one day they'll do a big hike. So they did a giant hike today. So they do wrestling? Yeah, even the first camp I didn't say to you, we had a fight club every day. Some of them were wrestlers somewhere. There were girls in there and never done it before. And we created like a Brad Pitt fight club down the basement with Andy. And it was awesome. The kids fucking loved that part of the camp every day. They loved it. So they beat each other up? It was wrestling. So it was smooth. He set the rules. It was like, hey, I just want you to get a high single leg. This is what it is. There were games like that. They loved it. They'd pound the mat. They'd be screaming for an opponent. It was almost instinctual or something. It was unbelievable. They had their phones for that long too. Yeah, it was great. That's great.