Craving a swig of that sticky-sweet bug juice? Itching to relive childhood memories hiking, biking, and creating arts and crafts? Whether you’re a summer camp veteran from back in the day or making up for lost time as an adult, check out these fun ways to act like a kid again at a grown-up summer camp. (See also: 6 Affordable Kid-Free Vacation Ideas)
1. Club Getaway
I was a camp counselor on and off for 10 years, and I’ve always been a bit envious of the kids who were able to spend their summers sleeping in cabins, making friends, and receiving care packages from family members. That’s something I never got to do as a kid. So when I learned about Club Getaway, located in the beautiful Berkshire Mountains of Kent, Connecticut, I had to book a stay. I’ve been back nearly every year since 2009, because it’s that much fun.
For adults-only weekends, Friday evening kicks off with a welcome party with drinks and appetizers and a DJ, followed by a full dinner with — brace yourselves — unlimited wine included in the package. In fact, every dinner at Club Getaway features unlimited wine. (I’m not saying I go just for that, but I might go just for that.) After dinner on arrival night, there’s a party with plenty of dancing and a cash bar, or you can hang around camp doing your own thing.
After an amazing buffet breakfast the next morning — the food at Getaway is legit, folks — you can spend the whole day participating in traditional camp activities like volleyball, rock climbing, and canoeing. Or you can try a few activities that are new to you, including learning how to fly trapeze, water skiing, or visiting a nearby winery. There’s a whole list of other activities available, too. In the afternoons, there are cookouts and games plus open lake time featuring water inflatables, followed by themed dinners, live music, and bonfires.
There are plenty of weekends from which to choose if you want a specific experience, like young professionals, sports and adventure, LGBT, Gen X, and holiday weekends, the latter of which are usually three days (sometimes four) instead of regular Friday to Sunday sessions.
Cost with taxes run about $500 per regular weekend and about $575-$600 for extended weekends, all of which are all-inclusive except for alcoholic beverages outside of the wine they include with each meal (though the camp does offer an all-inclusive alcohol package add-on). You can save by booking early — Club Getaway offers early bird discounts in January via email, and you can knock a few bucks off as a returning guest and by referring friends.
While I’m not a spokesperson for the camp, I personally don’t think there’s a better value out there for a weekend away while relaxing, having fun, and making new memories. Plus, if you were to add up meals, two or three nights in a hotel, and fun outdoor activities, you could easily spend more than $500, so you’ll likely save some cash by enjoying all that Club Getaway has to offer.
2. Camp No Counselors
Because I’ve been to Club Getaway so many times, I’ve often thought about switching up my summer camp routine, and at the top of my list is Camp No Counselors, which has locations all over the U.S., including Boston, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and a couple in Canada. While CNC offers many of the same activities as Club Getaway, the biggest difference is the open bar that’s included with your reservation, starting with mimosas and bloody Marys at breakfast. When you’re not stuffing your face with chef-prepared food like baby back ribs, skirt steak, grilled chicken, and fish tacos, you can explore your adventure options, like sailing, wakeboarding, ropes courses, and paddle boarding, among dozens of other offerings.
But let’s get back to the booze. Beer and wine is available at lunch, and from happy hour through the night, and there’s a full-service open bar. With your drink in hand, you can dress up for a costume party, enjoy a live show, and dance into the wee hours with world-class DJs. Dates for camps vary from city to city, as they’re not held every weekend in every outpost — with September offering the most opportunities to attend. Most weekends, which usually run from Thursdays to Sundays, start at $575 and $650. CNC also offers three- and six-month payment plans if you can’t pay the full price at the time of booking.
3. Soul Camp
Health and wellness enthusiasts will love Soul Camp, which offers three-day sessions in New York and California, complete with communal or private cabins, wellness education, pool parties, and lake and river activities.
At Soul Camp, you can participate in intensive and in-depth yoga training and other healing experiences, including astrology, tarot, life and health coaching, and meditation. You’ll also get the change to explore during excursions to Kings Canyon National Park and Pine Flat Lake in California and the Adirondack Mountains in New York. Meal times serve “healthified camp food,” and traditional camp activities like dance parties and bonfires also are included.
Prices are a little steeper here — starting at $899 for the New York location before April 1 — but they sometimes offer a $200 limited-time discount, and monthly payment plans are available. There’s also early-bird pricing that runs continuously throughout the spring and summer, which at its peak, saves up to $1,000 on a weekend.
4. Camp Bonfire
There’s only one weekend scheduled for Camp Bonfire — this year it was held in mid-June at Lake Owego in the Poconos — but I wanted to include it because it’s unlike any other adult camps out there.
The regular fee for this camp, which includes all the traditional and nontraditional activities (like Quidditch, terrarium making, and “lemon jousting”), plus six meals from Friday evening to Sunday lunch (including drinks and lots of snacks throughout the weekend), is $475. If you’ve got a little extra cash to spare, you can choose a Benefactor Registration at $550, which offsets the cost of camp for a would-be camper who can’t afford the $475; and for those folks, there’s a Campership Registration, which lowers the cost of the weekend to $400. If you’re rolling in dough, you can opt for the Super Benefactor Registration at $950, which covers the full cost of camp for another, lower-income camper.
Neat concept, I think, and an easy way to commit an act of kindness. Something to consider for next year. Plus, a portion of every sale goes to Philly-based Camp Sojourner, which “helps girls become leaders who take charge of their own lives and act as agents of positive change in their communities.”
5. Zombie Survival Camp
If you’re worried about the impending zombie apocalypse (because it’s definitely coming!), Zombie Survival Camp is right up your alley. Located in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, this day or weekend camp provides intimate, one-on-one expert instruction on how to navigate a zombie invasion, including tactical skills taught on a 60-acre facility that includes a rustic farmhouse, outbuildings, and a shooting range. Ages 15 and older can attend day camps (24 participants total), while full weekends are for folks age 21 and older (15 participants total). You’ll learn Zombitsu, a hand-to-hand fighting style developed by ZSC trainers; first-aid techniques; knife throwing and crossbow skills; how to build a bug-out band, and more.
Weekends are all-inclusive with lodging, meals, and activities, plus booze, games, and bonfires in the evenings. Day camp is $179 per person while weekends are $450, both payable in two installments. (See also: 5 Affordable Vacations to Please Every Age Group)
6. Space Camp
Didn’t grow up to be an astronaut? Don’t sweat it. Adult Space Academy, at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, welcomes people age 18 and older to spend a few days as an astronaut as you train on their Multi-Axis Trainer, build and launch your own rocket, complete team-building exercises on a ropes course, design a protective heat shield, and perform an extended-duration simulated mission. Three-day sessions cost $549 and include meals served in the Space Camp Crew Galley, and lodging is in their Habitat facilities.