Honey, I'm Home

I Hated Summer Camp As A Kid. Then I Went To One For Adults.

What do you get when you mix decked-out glamping with classic summer camp vibes and endless home decor? Heaven for the girlies.

by Theresa Massony
Caroline Wurtzel/Bustle; Shutterstock; Stocksy; HomeGoods

As a kid, I never went to sleepaway camp. My pleas to my mom were met with a resounding, “I’m not paying for you to go somewhere I know you’ll hate,” and I never let her hear the end of it. Unsurprising to anyone who has had or been a mom, I know now she was right: I’m an accident-prone, burns-after-a-second-in-the-sun homebody whose definition of hell is being stranded in the wilderness with a million species of bugs and sleeping in a room with 20 other kids. I would’ve made my mom pick me up after maybe a day.

So I initially felt conflicted when I was invited to attend HomeGoods’ “Finder’s Camp,” a reimagined, bookable summer camp experience and centered around the joy finding your favorite home decor out in the world, at Camp Lokanda in New York’s Catskill Mountains. On the one hand, this was finally my chance to live out the childhood experience I’d never gotten, designed by the place in which I arguably spend the most time outside of work and home. On the other hand, bugs.

Courtesy of HomeGoods

With nobody to tell me otherwise, I arrived at Camp Lokanda with exactly three bottles of bug repellent in tow for exactly one night. Friendly “guides” (i.e., Camp Lokanda counselors) in matching shirts carted me to the HomeGoods Lakeside Lounge, a cozy gazebo with comfy seating vignettes. Along the way, I marveled at summer camp staples like a kid in a candy store: sprawling waterfront views, enormous swimming pools, a huge bonfire pit. For a second, I had renewed anger at my parents for depriving me of such an experience. (The very next second, an inchworm launched itself from a tree and onto my face.)

Courtesy of HomeGoods
Courtesy of HomeGoods
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After a big welcome lunch at the Mess Hall — featuring forest views and communal dining tables lined with vibrant, thoughtfully styled tablescapes — the guides handed me a clipboard with a property map and a packed itinerary. I also got a lanyard for my designated cabin, Grandma’s Grove — an apt name, considering that I do sometimes feel like a 75-year-old in a 30-year-old body.

Grandma’s Grove is one of 10 cabins available at Finder’s Camp. Each one leans into a different trendy interior design style: The Grove, for instance, is a spin on 2022’s coastal grandma craze by way of delicate floral linens, a wall of classic blue-and-white porcelain vessels, and beachy colors alongside light neutrals. For anyone who updates their Goodreads more often than responding to their texts, there’s Bookworm Birch, a moody yet vivid four-person cabin designed with walls of bookshelves and your pick of reading nooks. The Western Willow cabin draws inspo from Southwestern interiors, while Pink Pine resembles a human-size Barbie Dreamhouse.

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The rest of my time included grown-up spins on classic summer camp activities (read: I drank wine and Champagne at nearly every activity). The first was an old-fashioned scavenger hunt, during which we ventured into the forest to find hidden HomeGoods decor. I ran up and down forest trails, speeding over fallen trees and peering into branches to find whatever riches I could reach. I’d done this more times than I could count in many a HomeGoods or Target — in other words, exactly the kind of fun I was built for.

Later, during a guided embroidery class, we choose from a selection of linens onto which we’d sew initials and sweet floral patterns. Sitting in a cool room with soft classical music, sewing casually and looking out onto the lake, I felt like I was thriving. High on the thrill of something I loved for my home, I carried over that creative energy to the Gardening Gazebo, where an expert walked us through repotting house plants, herbs, and vegetables into eclectic planters tailored to various design styles.

Courtesy of HomeGoods
Courtesy of HomeGoods
Courtesy of HomeGoods
Courtesy of HomeGoods
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We capped off the experience with s’mores and scary stories around a bonfire, surrounded by mounds of pillows and blankets, as well as elaborate Halloween decor, like shiny golden skull towers, colorful pumpkins, and a skeleton emerging from the ground that I’m not ashamed to admit I wanted to steal. Granted, the scariest story we heard was a strangely familiar one about a woman whose fear of choosing which home decor she wants becomes unbearable (cue Maddy from Euphoria saying, “Is this f*cking play about us?”), but the vibes were immaculate nonetheless.

If you and your friends are also the type who are down to glamp but not to camp — and if you also happen to love a little HomeGoods run — you, too, can experience a weekend at HomeGoods’ Finder’s Camp. Starting Friday, May 17, at 12 p.m. ET, the brand will open bookings here for June 7 to June 9 for $49.99 per person. Take your pick of the many decked-out cabins, but just note that lodging is booked on a first-come, first-serve basis based on availability and party size.