First it seemed like a fad; now it’s a full-fledged phenomenon. Grown-ups are heading back to camp in droves. Perhaps we miss the camaraderie and fun we found there as kids—or maybe we want to experience that peaceful sense of singing by the fireside and canoeing in a mountain lake for the first time.
Many of these adult sleep-away camps evoke traditional summer camp themes: You sleep in a cabin, have campfires and s’mores, eat in a mess hall, do classic camp activities such as tie-dye and arts-and-crafts. Some are like wellness retreats in the wilderness, with a full range of offerings such as power yoga and psychic readings. Other camps cater to more specific themes and hobbies, from wine harvest camp to zombie survival camp. Simply follow your bliss. Don’t see your favorite on this list? Let us know in the “Comments” section, below.
1. Camp Throwback
Former camp counselor Adam Tichauer left his corporate job in 2014 to found Camp No Counselors, a concept which he took on Shark Tank and has made into a successful business. Camp No Counselors now operates its weekend camps almost year-round in 16 cities in the U.S. and Canada. The emphasis is on fun, games and freeing your inner child.
3. Camp Grounded
Camp Grounded in Northern California was one of the first—and certainly a model for—adult sleep-away camps. It took the concept of leaving the city behind, getting back to nature and finding your inner child to a whole new level. Unfortunately, the camp’s founder, Levi Felix, died in early 2017. The camp is holding two sessions this summer, after which it will close.
4. Soul Camp
Club Getaway has its own beautiful fixed location in Kent, Connecticut. Choose a weekend in summer for a bit of sunshine, greenery, good food and water sports. Some camps have themes, including Generation X, Camp John Waters, Jewish Professionals and many more.
7. Camp Bonfire
A straightforward camp for grown-ups, Camp Bonfire has great amenities plus the benefit of a prime location on Lake Owego in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. Spend your days taking nature hikes, kayaking or writing poetry. The founders’ philosophy is, “We believe that great joy can be found in nature and each other.”
8. Camp Kid Again
Camp Kid Again is keeping things simple and nostalgic. This South Carolina-based camp may be for adults and offer an open bar, but the packing list reads like a kids’ camp. And the activities could be straight out of a summer camp brochure (relay race, archery, tie-dye) with the exception of more grown-up fun, including human foosball and drinking games.
9. ‘Camp’ Camp
Serving the LGBT community since 1997, ‘Camp’ Camp, outside Portland, Maine, may be the first sleep-away camp for grown-ups—a going concern long before the trend caught on. Each year 200 men and women gather from across the country for a week of arts and outdoor activities, camp games, rambles and good times.
10. Camp Halcyon
Way up north in Wautoma, Wisconsin, Camp Halcyon is splitting the difference between nostalgia and, well, hedonism. Three times a year, in July, August and October, Halcyon offers a hybrid of old-school camp cabins and canoes and grown-up concepts like yoga on the beach (lakefront), three chef-prepared meals a day and a cocktail hour sponsored by local whiskey and beer companies.
Camp Rahh near Seattle offers an all-inclusive four-day weekend of outdoor fun—four-course meals and bus transportation included. Sleep in traditional log cabins, enjoy live musical performances, meditation, horseback riding and, as they say, “make new best friends.” What could be better than that? Camp Rahh operates once a year; from August 24 to 27 in 2017.
Summer camp forms such an integral part of the Jewish-American experience; it’s not surprising to find a camp designed especially for Jewish adults. Camp Nai Nai Nai opens its cabin doors once a year on Memorial Day weekend (May 26 to 29 in 2017) in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, among the lakes and trees of the Catoctin Mountains. Engage in the typical camp games and activities, meet new friends and enjoy Shabbat under the stars.
13. Stratejoy Summer Camp for Women
Stratejoy Summer Camp for women is an outgrowth of the internet community founded by entrepreneur and joy guru Molly Mahar. Billed as “5 days of magic,” the camp is a chance for women to bond, interact, brainstorm and motivate one another with go-girl empowerment. In 2017, the camp will be held once in August at an as-yet-undisclosed location. Go to the site for more information.
14. Camp Winnarainbow (Circus Arts)
Perhaps best known as a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor, Wavy Gravy is in fact a real person: Formerly a stalwart hippie, he now runs a popular camp for circus arts in Northern California. For one week each summer, grown-ups can try their hand at trapeze, clowning, juggling, magic and more. As Wavy says, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”
15. Zombie Survival Camp
You’ve watched every season of The Walking Dead and you’re feeling a little wary. You know what might help? A weekend packed with hands-on classes in crossbow, knife throwing, Zombitsu (a specialized form of hand-to-hand combat) and advanced first aid (sounds like you’re going to need it). All classes are led by certified instructors dressed like regular people. Camp takes place in Central New Jersey, not far from Atlantic City and Philadelphia.
16. Epic Nerd Camp
Epic Nerd Camp (ENC), in Eastern Pennsylvania, not far from Scranton, wins the prize for best name. If you love to dress up in medieval costume and know what LARP is (Live Action Role Playing), you’ve found your tribe! Activities include circus games, non-fatal jousting and every board game imaginable. ENC offers two sessions this August. Bring your cape.
17. Surf Camp
Held during the grape harvest in September in Sonoma County, California, this three-day camp offers the chance to pick grapes in the vineyard and tour several Sonoma wineries. Campers also learn the history of winemaking in the area and, of course, enjoy extensive meals served with local Sonoma wines.
19. Space Camp
Thought you were too old to make like Buzz Lightyear? The Space Camp facility in Huntsville, Alabama, made famous in movies for kids, also has a camp for adults. This three-day program is a little less campy than some in that you can sleep in a dorm bunk bed at the facility or at a local Marriott. You do, however, get to train on the multi-axis trainer, and perform an extended-duration simulated mission. Check website for dates and rates.
20. Yoga Camp
Emily Wise Miller is the web editor at Live Happy. Her last article for livehappy.com was: On Edge Takes a Personal Look at Living With Anxiety.