If you’re like me, you try to avoid adulating at all costs. And given that adult camps are all the rage, it seems I’m not the only one who would like to relive those carefree childhood days when the most serious question is whether to make out with Joe or Johnny in the woods or the pool house…j/k who did that?
The question is not whether you should go to a summer camp for adults (duh). It’s which one you should pick. They each have totally different vibes and draws. Here’s a quick comparison to help you decide which summer camp experience is right for you:
- Locations: Upstate NY (2018), Utah (2019) NorCal (2019), and NC (2019)
- Total Cost: $474-2198 for the weekend
Cost Breakdown: $399-599 for a three-day pass (depending on how early you register), which includes food, gifts from the sponsors, an open bar, and activities. If you plan on staying overnight (some people just drive up for the day or get hotel rooms in the area), you also need to purchase either the $75 camping permit or pay $1299-$1599 for a glamping tent. If you don’t have your own gear, they sell camp kits that include tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, etc. you can bring home with you.
The Experience: As one of the premier outdoor adventure apps in America, The Outbound has the outdoors down to a science. Their adult adventure camp was crazy well organized with massive brand sponsors like Merrell and Marmot and it was basically white glove camping. Immediately upon arrival, you could tell it was a high-end production with every detail meticulously thought out. The food was excellent (they have a chef on staff), they help you set up your tent and cart you around on a 4×4 (if you need), and the porta-potties and mobile showers were shockingly clean. There are 250+ classes and activities to choose from with signups done via an app. The interface is a bit clunky (ie. it was hard to view your friend’s schedules), but the fact that there is an app, good cell service, and charging stations says a lot. It definitely isn’t an off-the-grid backcountry experience; it’s a curated intro into the outdoors.
The Best Activities: It’s no secret I gravitate toward the weird and wacky and try to find adventures you can’t do just anywhere. Some of the more unique offerings include hammock yoga (it wasn’t like aerials as I had pictured, it was more about using what’s around you to get a deeper stretch), “summer snowboarding” aka one-wheeling, adult “COOLering” (Igloo cooler decorating you can take home as a souvenir), backcountry cooking classes, and bottomless s’mores (with designer chocolate, gourmet marshmallows, and stroopwafels). They had SONY cameras to borrow/practice with, DIY spa services (Rinse was an awesome sponsor), wine, beer and cider tastings, and kombucha. Yeah, it’s as bougie as you’re picturing.
What Could Be Improved: While the variety of activities was great, I did find the instruction to be fairly entry level and the classes mostly designed for beginners (literally one girl was freaking out she’d never been on a ski lift before). Fly-fishing on grass was weird (we didn’t even go in the water) and I didn’t need an hour-long SUP instruction…just give us the boards and equipment to play with on our own. The nightly entertainment was pretty weak — the music sounded like a high school garage band and didn’t encourage hanging out. We were also given a fairly early curfew (noise regulations of the area, I’m guessing) and actually told to be quiet by some of the other campers.
Who It’s Ideal For: If you want to try camping without sacrificing all the creature comforts, Pursuit is a great option for urbanites looking to dabble in the outdoors. It’s the place to try a bunch of new activities in a safe, judgment-free space like rock climbing, mountain biking, rappelling, SUPing, etc. without investing in all the gear and instruction. If you’re looking for a rager, this is not it. While there is an open bar, the alcohol is top shelf and no one’s getting sloppy. People actually do get up early to do the activities.
- Locations: Chicago (2018), Nashville (2018), New York (2019), Toronto (2018), Denver (2018), LA (2019), Florida (2018), Boston (2018), Seattle (2018), Calgary (2018), Austin (2018). Dates vary May – September
- Total Cost: $475-725 for the weekend
Cost Breakdown: Your registration includes accommodations, open bar, food, and activities for the weekend. The price varies by location and how early you register. If you want to be in the same bunk as your friends be sure to signup together as a group.
The Experience: The OG adult camp, Camp No Counselors exploded after being featured on Shark Tank. Known for raucous nightly theme parties (pack costumes!), cheap booze, and old-school camp activities like capture the flag and Color Wars; it’s just like when you were a horny teenager, only with disposable income. The party starts immediately on the bus ride up with free-flowing alcohol as an icebreaker. You sleep in bunk beds, hang around the lake, and sneak off to the woods with boys (or girls, no judgments). You’ll leave with a friendship bracelet or two, new tie-dye attire, and crazy memories probably masked as regret.
The Best Activities: The traditional camp activities like kickball, dodgeball, and of course, the blob. Exact activities vary by location but expect friendly drunk camp-wide competition in the form of relay races, high ropes courses, talent shows, terrible karaoke, and scavenger hunts.
What Could Be Improved: The food is basic (think ‘dogs and tacos) as are the co-ed digs, but that’s summer camp for you. It’s not glamping by any means and there’s intentionally no WiFi so leave the cell phones at the door.
Who It’s Ideal For: 20 and 30-somethings looking for that one last hoorah. Basically, people looking to behave badly. Those fighting adulthood tooth and nail in search of any opportunity to relive the good ‘ole college days…and then feeling so hung-over the next day they never want to do it ever again. Until camp next year, of course.
There are also a number of regional adult camps like…
Club Getaway (CT) – A frou-frou adult summer camp in the Berkshires, you’ll post up with slap cup, burlesque dancing, Zumba, and a booze-fueled outdoor activity schedule a mile long.
Camp Bonfire (PA) – Camp Bonfire promises a range of quirky camp activities from embroidery to foam sword capture the flag, human hungry hippos, lawn games, Quidditch, and lemon jousting.
Soul Camp (NY & CA) – A party meets yoga retreat, the staff has ridiculous titles like “the mojo makeover mama,” “tarot bear” and “soul camp astrologer.” Hippies rejoice: summer camp activities range from dreamcatcher making to ceremonial fear burning.
Camp Shenanigans (CO) – Ropes courses and dance parties, capture the flag and rappelling. Camp Shenanigans has everything you’d expect of an adult sleepover camp just outside Denver.
OutdoorFest (NYC) – An excuse for urbanites and city dwellers to get outside, OutdoorFest has 10-days of events throughout the five boroughs culminating in a weekend-long island campout.
Have you been to an adult camp? What’d you think?
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