Summer tends to lose its magic when you become an adult. Summer vacation has been reduced to one week off instead of a whole summer off, running after the ice cream man is more of a workout than an exciting chase and, worst of all, there's no more summer camp.
That's right, summer camp, which had programming designed to squeeze every possible bit of joy out of summer. It's all a distant memory when you enter adulthood.
In this hyper-connected, high-speed world, adults need summer camp more than ever. We need a place to escape where our phones lose reception, and a place where we can enjoy a few days disconnected from reality. That's why adults who questioned the concept of growing up have doubled down on nostalgia to create summer camps for grownups. It's everything you loved about summer camp, but with programming to help feed your adult spirit.
So to help take back summer, here are the most playful, creative and relaxing adult summer camps, guaranteed to return you to the blissful days of being a happy camper.
1. Camp No Counselors
Take all the components that made summer camp great – outdoor adventures, swimming and making new friends – and just add booze and an epic DJ dance party. That's Camp No Counselors.
When it comes to adult summer camps, Camp No Counselors is an outdoor party that's perfect for corporate team building, bachelor and bachelorette weekends, or just adults who need to get away for a little bit. Their appearance on Shark Tank made this camp a nationwide phenomenon.
And though they didn't accept any offer from the sharks, Camp No Counselors has been able to grow to 11 locations across North America and offers weekend sessions all summer long.
2. Camp Throwback
Located in rural Ohio, just north of Cincinnati, Camp Throwback is four days of programming created to induce heavy amounts of sleepaway camp nostalgia. The camp was founded in 2013 by Brittany Gibbons and her husband Andy.
Because Gibbons also works as an acceptance guru, focusing on self-love and body image, much of the camp's programming is centered around fun, positivity and building lifelong friendships.
At Camp Throwback, campers participate in a Drunk Field Day, an '80's Dance Party and Karaoke night. And each morning, campers can join in a Hangover Yoga class. Though it's not on the official schedule, camp pranks (like panty raids and TP-ing the boys' cabin) and mild debauchery are also encouraged.
3. Camp Bonfire
Camper celebrates Rock Paper Scissors victory — Photo courtesy of Kate Raines
"We believe that great joy can be found in nature and each other" is the founder's philosophy of Camp Bonfire. When life got too hectic for two men from Philadelphia, they headed up to Lake Owego in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania.
They missed sleeping in cabins, singing in the dining hall and pulling camp pranks, so they decided to create new camp memories by founding Camp Bonfire. Located 2.5 hours from both Philadelphia and New York City, it's the perfect place for adults looking to escape city life and unleash their inner child.
4. Zombie Survival Camp
Getting ready for the zombie apocalypse — Photo courtesy of Zombie Survival Camp
If you're looking for a camp that's less singing around the campfire and more apocalypse training, then the Zombie Survival Camp is for you. Located in the New Jersey Pine Barrens (home of the Jersey Devil), campers will learn valuable skills to survive the zombie apocalypse. But it's not just zombies you'll learn how to escape.
The skills taught at zombie survival camp can help you survive a multitude of apocalyptic situations. Campers can take classes on how to find and make shelter, use night vision and thermal optics as well as how to perform first aid. There's also a variety of weapons training, including how to do self defense with melee weapons, how to use firearms with live ammo and how to use a crossbow.
"The better prepared you are today, the easier tomorrow will be" is the motto of the Zombie Survival Camp.
5. Epic Nerd Camp
Epic Nerd Campers preparing for a LARPing battle — Photo courtesy of Epic Nerd Camp
On a 550-acre property in the Pocono Mountains in northeastern Pennsylvania, there's a magical summer camp where adults are playing Quidditch, LARPing, learning circus acts and playing board games. At Epic Nerd Camp, campers have 5 days and 4 nights to explore whatever nerdy, geeky fantasy they want to fulfill.
There are so many activities to choose from at Epic Nerd Camp that campers can customize each day with activities ranging from Mermaid-ing, swimming with mono fins that look like mermaid tails, to wizarding activities like dueling and wandmaking.
You'll want to spend the night in these 10 treehouses
You'll want to spend the night in these 10 treehouses
6. Club Getaway
Riding a unicorn on the lake at Club Getaway — Photo courtesy of Club Getaway
Club Getaway, located in Kent, Conn., has a camp session for every style of camper. Classified as a family camp, Club Getaway has programs for all ages, for entire families, and even private events such as corporate team building weekends and weddings. But when it comes to adult summer camps, the options are limitless.
You can sign up for sessions based on lifestyle, such as Young Professional, LGBT and Gen X. While at camp, adrenaline junkies can go mountain biking, water skiing, rock climbing and take cardio kickboxing classes. Socialites can take burlesque or salsa dancing classes, and join an improv troupe.
At Club Getaway, you can choose your own adventure.
7. Camp Grounded
Camp Grounded takes the concept of adult summer camps and applies a relaxing, tech-free twist. Located in Anderson Valley, Calif., Camp Grounded is for campers who desperately need to unplug from the world – mentally and physically.
There's an agreement among campers that there will be no technology, no talking about work, no asking about someone's age, and no drugs or alcohol. Instead, campers are invited to meditate, go stargazing, write poetry in yurts, do yoga and participate in playshops.
Camp Grounded is four days of disconnecting from adulthood and reconnecting to the whimsy of childhood.
8. Camp Wandawega
Just 90 minutes north of Chicago in Elkhart, Wis., Camp Wandawega is a chic adult camp with a unique history. Camp Wandawega was a Prohibition-era speakeasy, a gambling den, and then a Latvian church camp before being renovated by founders Tereasa Surratt and David Hernandez.
Nowadays, the summer retreat takes on the classic vibe of an outdoorsy summer camp, but with a hip and trendy twist. You'll find a main lodge filled with taxidermy and a chandelier made of antlers, while campers drink from mason jars and sleep under Pendleton blankets.
Over the years, many celebrities have retreated to Camp Wandawega; Michael Cera, Sophia Bush and even Cardinal Archbishop Meyer have signed the guestbook.
9. 'Camp' Camp
Tea Dance Rainbow Gals — Photo courtesy of Jes Quesada
'Camp' Camp has been the go-to adult summer camp for the LGBTQ community since 1997. For an entire week each summer, LGBTQ campers head to southwestern Maine for a full program of social activities that gets them engaging with the outdoors and making meaningful friendships.
Campers can enjoy traditional summer activities like pottery, hiking, swimming in the lake and even sailing. And because 'Camp' Camp is for adults, there's no curfew. Campers can enjoy nighttime activities including night hikes and late night canoe trips out on the lake.
It feels just like a sleepaway camp from childhood, except the food isn't what you'd expect to find in a mess hall. All meals are made by professional chefs who make healthy and delicious dishes from locally-sourced ingredients.
Charity is also part of the 'Camp' Camp mission. A few years ago, they started "Camp Gives Back" where a portion of the camp store proceeds go towards a different LGBTQ organization each year.
10. Camp Halcyon
Get your drink on at Camp Halcyon — Photo courtesy of Camp Halcyon
Look up halcyon in the dictionary and you'll find this definition: "a period of time that was idyllically happy and peaceful."
It's the perfect word to sum up the sensation adults feel when they think back to their childhood days at summer camp. So, it's also the perfect name for Camp Halcyon located in Wautoma, Wisconsin.
Offering two summer sessions and one winter session in October, they take everything you loved about summer camp – canoeing, campfires, and arts and crafts – and add things to make it even better. Think wine tasting and a campfire lounge and cocktail bar that's stocked with spirits from local distilleries and beer from local brewpubs and breweries.