Camping Adult Style


By Veronica Chavez

Photo courtesy of Always Shooting.

This year, a new wave of graduates will toast the completion of their undergraduate studies and begin to prepare for the ever intimidating “real world.”

With anxiety in abundance and a gnawing pressure to succeed, lots of these recent graduates, like so many graduates before them, will spend the next few years laser-focused on landing and working at their new jobs.

For some, windows of free time will become smaller and smaller. Their plans to meet with friends will become fewer. Ambitious career climbers may wake up one day to realize that the only time they really play anymore is at the billiard table during happy hour.

Plato once said “you can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”

But how much are we really discovering about each other during the small snippets of play we engage in, especially with smartphones always within arm’s reach?

Even on vacation, time is often spent lying around at the beach or the pool, or out sightseeing, detached from the other tourists also passing through.

As relaxing as it is to spend vacation days completely decompressing, research shows that engaging in play is deeply intertwined with human development and intelligence–even for fully-functioning adults.

With this in mind, summer camps specifically designed for adults have begun to spring up around the US. Here are three aiming to simulate the camp experience you loved (or never got to have) as a kid:

Photo courtesy of Student Government.

Camp No Counselors

In the fall of 2013, Adam Tichauer rented a camp for himself and his friends to get away from their busy work schedules for one weekend and have fun. When word spread of his plan, the simple weekend trip quickly became a 90-person event.

After seeing how excited people became at the prospect of retreating into nature and making new friends around a campfire, Tichauer decided to quit his job and devote his time to creating a camping utopia for adults to enjoy.

In the span of just two years, Tichauer and his team launched camps in New York, Chicago, Nashville, and Los Angeles, where adults can come and “shed their work identities” to engage in genuine play.

Campers can choose from an assortment of activities including archery, sailing, arts and crafts, basketball, and wakeboarding, to name a few. They also have a Slip’N Alide and tug of war contests to bring grown-ups back to the days of playful competition.

For participants who aren’t completely tuckered out from running around all day, the camp organizes theme parties on a nightly basis with DJs and an open bar.

Camp No Counselors’ one guideline? Don’t start conversations by asking people what they do for a living.

Camp Grounded

Photo courtesy of Camp Grounded.

Camp Grounded was designed for adults who want to get away from the digital dependency that has become so prevalent in today’s society.

In both camp locations (California and North Carolina) the use of digital devices such as cell phones, laptops, mp3 players, and cameras is strictly prohibited. Even devices that count your steps or remind you when to drink water are not allowed.

The ideology behind the disconnection is to allow campers to embrace the void we so frequently turn to technology to fill, and most importantly, to be present in the moment alongside other campers.

With this philosophy in mind, Camp Grounded offers over 25 “playshops” including tea making, origami, laughter yoga, Thai massage, and ukulele 101.

While connecting with others is encouraged, the alcohol and drug-free weekend is just as much about introspection and self-reflection.

Soul Camp

Photo courtesy of Soul Camp.

Started by two women who went to same camp every summer growing up, Soul Camp offers the ultimate wellness package for yoga lovers.

Activities at Soul Camp include IntenSati, a mind-body cardio workout, Prana hikes with Mindfulness Expert Ed Harrold, and even access to “resident camp psychic” Betsy Cohen.

In addition to providing spirituality stimulating activities, Soul Camp offers athletic endeavors such as beach volleyball, lacrosse, soccer, and lake sports like surfboarding, kayaking, and canoeing.

Similarly to Camp Grounded, Soul Camp refrains from serving alcohol, a rule that Co-Founder Ali Leipzig says will always remain a component of its functioning.

“Alcohol allows us to numb out and create a sort of blurry manufactured fun,” Leipzig explains, “but remember how much fun we had as kids just playing hopscotch or having a waterfight? That’s the kind of fun we want people to remember is possible.”

Soul Camp hopes to expand into additional locations around the country, and even the globe.

Whether it’s telling stories around the campfire, shedding away technological dependency for one week, or embracing the silence of meditation, these camps aim to recharge participants and reestablish the sense of play so often stifled in the adult world.