13 Summer Camps For Adults, Because Grown-Ups Need Their Craft Time Too
Recently, Hilary Clinton herself proclaimed that Americans should attend summer camps for adults. Even though Clinton was talking about strategies for building cooperation between partisan politicians, not average Americans taking a load off by learning how to make lanyards and go canoeing, her statement about the solution to the "fun deficit in America" still applies. You work hard — don't you also deserve to spend a long weekend relieving your tween glory days of 'smores and ghost stories in the woods? Especially now that you can legally chug some wine before Color War? The answer seems obvious.
Summer camps for grown-ups have become big business over the past decade — over one million adults attend summer camp each year, and there are now over 800 summer camps for adults operating across the country. But with so many different options for a throwback good time, how do you decide? It's as confusing as deciding who to give your best friendship bracelet to.
Don't worry — below, we've picked 13 adult summer camps for grown-ups of every inclination, for beginner stargazers to experienced party animals. Read on, and get stoked to spend the summer saluting your shorts (but, you know, in a mature, adult way).
For The Music Lover
This network of loosely affiliated camps offers adult women a three-day-long immersive workshop on the finer points of rocking out — even if you've never picked up an instrument before in your life. Participants are matched up with other campers with similar tastes and experience levels, and form bands who write their own simple, original rock songs over the course of a long weekend. Mornings are devoted to workshops in guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, or singing; afternoons are focused on writing and rehearsing. Each band is assigned an experienced rock musician as their "coach," and each weekend concludes with a concert where each band gets to play their song on a real rock club stage, in front of a crowd of family and friends.
As if that weren't cool enough, the cost of Ladies Rock Camp goes to fund Girls Rock Camps, week-long programs that teach rock musicianship, songwriting skills, and self-esteem to girls 8-18.
Location: Interlochen, MI
Are your favorite high school memories all about cleaning your oboe? Relive those days with Adult Band Camp, at famous arts boarding school Interlochen. This week-long program brings together more than 70 adults who are passionate (but not professional) players of brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments for a week of private and ensemble lessons, sectional rehearsals, and master classes, culminating in a public performance at the school's theater.
If you go, we'll try not to make any "perfecting your fingering technique" jokes, but no promises.
For The Science Lover
Location: Huntsville, AL
If your parents never gave in to all of your childhood pleas to attend space camp, here, finally, is your opportunity to right that wrong. This weekend-long program gives campers the chance to experience everything that pint-size wannabe astronauts get — from participating in model rock building workshops to testing out anti-gravity training facilities, and even embarking on a practice space mission. Who's "wasting money on floating upside down all summer" now, Mom?!
Location: Tucson, AZ
You don't need any previous astronomy experience to attend the University of Arizona's weekend-long Astronomy Camp for Adults — beginners and more advanced students alike will get to enjoy workshops presented by working astronomers on how planets and stars are formed, operate a professional telescope at the college's observatory, and permanently look down on people who say they like astronomy, but can only identify the Big Dipper.
For The Horror Movie Fanatic
Location: Whiting, NJ
Listen, whether you like it or not, the zombie apocalypse is coming. At best, you have nine or 10 years to learn to purify your own water and improvise a bazooka out of some cantaloupes and an archery set. So why not get a head start with this weekend-long program, which teaches survival skills like knife-throwing, emergency first aid, crossbow archery, and other stuff you'll want to know when there's no more room in hell and the dead walk the earth.
But lest you think this camp is all just running relays and building emergency shelters out of discarded trash bags, evenings involve bonfires, bonding, and adult beverages (as we'd hope evenings after the zombie apocalypse will).
Location: Los Angeles, CA
You're a busy adult now, and you just don't have as much time to get chased around a campground by a chainsaw-wielding maniac in a hockey mask as you used to when you were a kid. The folks behind the Great Horror Campout understand this, which is why their simulated horror movie experience — where campers are pursued by faux zombies, cannibals, ax murderers, and other creatures that populate your favorite movies with the word "blood" in the title. Don't worry: it only lasts for 12 hours, over the course of one very long weekend evening.
For The Budding Entrepreneur
Location: Big Bear, CA
Part business conference, part old school sleepaway camp, this four day expedition in the mountains of California includes workshops on contract law, publicity, and other topics relevant to getting your business off the ground, as well as archery, swimming, horseback riding, movie screenings, all-camp bonfires, and other classic camp traditions ... all without cell phones or other tech to interfere with the experience. Think of it as networking over s'mores instead of martinis.
Location: Rock Hill, NY
If you're looking to fine-tune your work-life balance, a three-and-a-half day excursion with Camp GLP — a program which emphasizes mindfulness in business, mixing workshops on branding and launching your business with bookbinding classes, storytelling circles, and meditation groups — might help you figure out how to start a company without losing your mind in the process.
For The Sports Enthusiast
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
If you've always wanted to learn to surf, but grew up so far inland that the closest you could get was standing on an ironing board in a public pool, well, now's the time to seize the day. Jump on a board and act out the non-scary scenes from Blue Crush! Schmidt's school was rated one of the top 10 surf schools in the world by National Geographic, and their five-day long courses teach newbies to ride the waves safely and confidently.
Location: Bradenton, FL
This massive sports training complex in Florida — which has served as a training site for Olympic medal winners and national champions— offers intensive instruction in the Bollettieri method of tennis training, for one half day to five full days. The campus also offers a spa and easy access to local landmarks and fine dining — I mean, you're not actually at summer camp, right? You shouldn't have to drink the bug juice in the mess hall.
For The Wannabe Spy
Location: New York City, NY and Las Vegas, NV
Think that being a spy is just about driving cool cars and beating our national enemies in a high stakes game of poker? No way; being a spy is actually very dangerous and a little boring. But you can experience the high glamour version of spying with a day at the Stiletto Spy School, a women-only program that teaches campers the fun spy skills — like hand-to-hand combat, wine tasting, and the art of the tango.
Will it make you able to protect high-level national secrets? Oh god, no. But it might make you more fun at parties!
For The Person Who Just Wants To Go Back To Camp
Location: Mendocino, CA
Yearn for the good old days of the sleepaway camp experience, where people expected you to participate in talent shows and make crafts, not participate in client presentations and craft TPS reports?
Then you might want to kick back at this isolated camp, which helps grown-ups "detox" from our adult lives by enjoying a long weekend away from technology. Spend a few days immersed in both classic camp activities, like archery and pinhole photography, and not-so-classic camp activities, like acro-yoga or Thai massage (or maybe you did do those things at summer camp. Maybe you and I attended very different summer camps).
Location: Kent, CT
If you've always felt that the only thing that could possibly improve the classic summer camp experience would be for all the attendees to be in their twenties and able to drink, then Club Getaway has your number.
This weekend long camp out-cum-party offers activities like ziplining, tennis, kayaking, mountain biking, archery, and volleyball during the day time, and dance classes, wine tasting, and '80s theme parties in the evening. And, most importantly, there will be no nosy counselors to remind you that it's lights out (or bust up your makeout sesh).