6 Amazing Adult Summer Camps
There’s a reason summer camp is heavily featured in nostalgic media: For better or for worse, weeks away at camp are among many adults’ most formative memories. Whether you fondly remember canoeing around a lake, practicing archery long before The Hunger Games made it cool, or creating macaroni jewelry—or you cringe thinking of scribbling homesick letters to your folks—there’s good news: Now, you can relive (or redeem) those memories at a summer camp for adults.
These outdoorsy adventures, which have popped up like wildflowers around the country as of late, offer a hybrid of beloved childhood favorites, like talent shows and sing-alongs, and adult-friendly perks like open bars, how-to’s on everything from the adventurous (wakeboarding) to the arcane (terrarium building, anyone?). So roll up your sleeping bag (and perhaps pack your flask), and check out these six adult camps for an unforgettable summer experience.
1. Camp No Counselors
With 16 locations across the U.S. and Canada and a feature on the ABC reality show Shark Tank, Camp No Counselors is one of the biggest, best-run adult summer camps out there. Attendees pay camp fees ahead of time, so when you arrive at four-day camp (by chartered bus, no less), your lodging, meals, and even booze (and there’s plenty of it) is paid for, leaving you free to focus on the fun stuff. Staff here—they’re called Non-Counselors—facilitate standard camp pastimes, plus more adventure-oriented offerings like ropes courses and wakeboarding. Between organized activities, which also include late-night costume parties, games like capture the flag, and friendship bracelet weaving, you’ll have plenty of time to mingle with fellow campers at the open bar.
2. Camp Grounded
Get ready to truly unwind with the Digital Detox at Camp Grounded, located in Mendocino, California. Booze (and drugs, of course) isn’t allowed at this camp, but that’s not the only detox: In addition to banishing phones, tablets, and laptops, Camp Grounded puts the kibosh on talking about work. Instead of networking and name-dropping, the camp promises to create "an atmosphere of personal freedom," where new friendships “are based on real-life connections, how good you are at Capture the Flag or face-painting, the best late-night bunkmate jokes, and the present moment.” Wholesome summer camp activities include nature hikes, woodworking, and Songwriting 101.
3. Arizona Cowboy College
If horseback riding was your favorite summer camp activity, then dust off those spurs, dig out that cowboy hat, and giddy-up to Arizona Cowboy College in Scottsdale for a weeklong horsemanship and cattle ranching camp on a working cattle ranch. Cowboy College has been running since 1989—long before adult summer camps became the rage—and its ranch hands are the real deal, guiding campers on an authentic roundup. Once you’ve got the cattle in check, you’ll also be called on to learn and help out with any number of other tasks around the ranch. Weeklong sessions (there are also one- and three-day sessions to give campers a taste of the ranch life) are limited to just six participants, so you’ll get plenty of one-on-one time with horses and ranch hands.
4. Adult Space Academy
Let’s face it: Trips to Mars will cost a pretty penny for a while, so what’s a space geek to do to get their fix for the final frontier? Adult Space Academy has all the same awesome activities as camp for kids, adapted for grown-ups who still fantasize about being astronauts. Choose a two-, three-, or four-day experience at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, then get ready to test your skills on the Multi-Axis Trainer (just like real astronauts do), design a protective heat shield, and embark on an extended-duration simulated mission. You’re almost guaranteed to have some sweet space camp stories—and maybe a few bragging rights as well—to share back at the office.
5. The WoodenBoat School
Courses at Maine’s WoodenBoat School take camp arts-and-craft sessions and shop classes to a whole new level. For nearly four decades, the founder of WoodenBoat magazine has taught the skills necessary to build beautiful, handmade vessels. Courses, offered between late June and September, teach wannabe boat builders to create their own wooden dory, dinghy, or pond yacht in just six days, or a wooden surfboard in five days. (There’s also a weeklong course in building a Greenland-style skin-on-frame kayak.) Meals are served at the school’s Boathouse, fueling you up for the long, productive days of hammering, sanding, and all the other hands-on tasks you’ll master. And at the end of the course, you’ll take to the water to find out if your beautiful new watercraft is seaworthy.
6. Camp Bonfire
Nestled in the Poconos of northeastern Pennsylvania, Camp Bonfire is the adult summer camp for those looking to experience the camp of their youth. Its motto—"Real Summer Camp for Adults"—gets right at the heart of its mission as a summer camp where you can adventure, relax, and connect with fellow campers. Technology isn’t banned, but it’s restricted to a designated area, leaving you free to focus on childhood favorites like dodgeball and archery, plus unique activities like terrarium building or freestyle rapping, and, of course, plenty of downtime to sit on the dock or watch the clouds. Get ready for a serious dose of nostalgia—along with adults-only perks like beers around the campfire every night.
Originally written by RootsRated for Marmot.