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What Kind Of Exclusive Gathering Of Finance Titans Is Right For You?

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If your idea of a good time is talking monetary policy with your fellow wonks, you'll want to go with Jackson Hole. If you love a good circle jerk with a backdrop of the Swiss Alps, Davos is your place to be. If you want to let your hair down, catch some fish without having to worry about obsessed fans mobbing you for an autograph, and learn how people who don't work for Bill Gross live, Camp Kotok's got your name on it.

...David Kotok...chief executive of money manager Cumberland Advisors transforms the tiny fishing and hunting resort he first visited 24 years ago into the site of an invitation-only midsummer economic summit that has been compared with Jackson Hole and even Davos. But guests at those other gatherings don't catch their own lunch...Not only is "Camp Kotok" a place where financial luminaries can exchange views in a relaxed, off-the-record setting. It is also a place they come to be treated like one of the guys or girls by the utterly unimpressed locals...

And, because Mr. Kotok is vigilant about protecting guests' privacy and keeping conversations off the record, attendees feel at ease. With a waiting list of more than 200 people, he hasn't hesitated to rescind invitations for the next year. "It's like Las Vegas I guess," says Mr. Buskirk. "Whatever happens here stays here." Neal Wheaton, making his debut as a guide, the fifth generation of Wheatons to do so, helps his client Paul McCulley catch 16 smallmouth bass over two days. He doesn't know that the chief economist of Pacific Investment Management Co. is one of the most influential financial thinkers in the world. Others do, but they don't care. "You get in a canoe with them in a fishing context and no one would guess it's the same guys you see on TV—they really let their hair down," says Mr. Spencer, the local guide. Asked if he had picked up much knowledge from spending all day in canoes with financial types, Neal's 57-year-old father, Chris, furrows his brow. "Maybe. I'm learning new words I never heard— 'options' and whatnot." Mr. Spencer thinks the visitors, not the guides, profit most from the conversations. "It brings them down to Earth—it has a sort of grounding influence," he says. And, even though they mostly ask about fishing, guests do come away with some economic lessons, according to Mr. Buskirk. "We get people from the Fed who tell us they get an insight into how their decisions affect ordinary people," he says.

Bright Lights of Finance Head to Low-Key Camp [WSJ via Jenny Strasburg]