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Take Back Summer

Christine Mitchell Adams

When my siblings and I were about middle-school age, our parents sent us to a summer camp on a lake not far from our home in Maine. I remember the first summer I went, I panicked and begged to return home. Everything about camp irked me; the bunk beds, the mosquitoes, the surplus of pine needles, the slightly older but much cooler camp counselors.

Then, something changed. After a day, I began to settle into my new vagabond life of early wake up calls, morning canoe rides, discovering wilderness survival skills and evenings gathered around a fire making s’mores.

What was even more exciting were the new friendships I made and how the activities continually pushed me out of my element. Camp became a three-week reboot for the imagination and an outlet for the masses of energy I had that was not expelled in the right way in class.

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Reclaim your childhood playfulness with the help of an adult summer camp

Now, fast forward to adulthood. What do we do as adults to release our energy, create a sense of community, or reboot our playfulness? It’s safe to say that most adults have dust covering their unused imagination while they stare at screens all day. Daily exercise is walking the stairs to our offices rather than riding an elevator. Spending time with friends morphs into a puzzle-dance of aligning overbooked schedules with the goal of real face time and earnest conversation.

Cue the need for adult summer camps! At summer camp for adults, you unplug, you don’t agonize over tiny stresses, you’re part of a community and you’re not attached to an intense schedule. Instead you play capture the flag, take an archery course, cook a communal meal or spend the night stargazing.

Whether it’s a quick weekend getaway, or a week of detox, or to pursue a hobby you’ve been wanting to learn, camp is a great way to reclaim that childhood playfulness that so many of us have lost touch with. We’ve put together a few options for a great summer camp experience, from luxurious weeklong adventures around the world, to a customizable camp under the stars. Take back summer, go on an adventure, and have fun!

From Coast to Coast: A Zady Approved List of Great All-American Adult Camps

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Camp Grounded, California

Camp Grounded at Camp Navarro in Anderson Valley, CA

Trade in your digital devices for a weekend off the grid at 70’s inspired Camp Navarro; 80 acres of towering Redwoods in the Anderson Valley wine country. Their extensive list of activities includes survival skills, origami, solar carving, capture the flag, and rock wall climbing.

Ace Camps, worldwide

With Ace Camps you can travel all over the world with filmmakers, designers, and artists who then teach you their craft. An example is a trip to Seattle, WA to learn still life and landscape photography with photographer Jonathan Lovekin. Each journey includes fantastic meals and one-on-one tutelage.

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Camp Wandawega for the wilderness seekers in all of us

Camp Wandawega in Elkhorn, WI

A picturesque campground with a tree house, teepees, and cabins, all decorated with camp memorabilia and nostalgic nick knacks that will really take you back to your childhood camp experience. Rooms can be rented for an individual retreat through AirBnB or you can join one of their scheduled workshops ranging from a flea market weekend workshop to band camp and art camp.

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A Shelter Co Campsite

Shelter Co. in Sonoma, CA

Interested in a more individually customized experience? Get a group of friends together and create your own camp. Enlist the brilliant team at Shelter Co. to set up the campsite complete with Adirondack furniture, Pendleton blankets, and a variety of customizable additions like organized activities and full service catering.

No matter how you retake your summer, make it an opportunity to unplug from the pressures and anxieties of daily life. Maybe leave your digital devices at home, or limit usage time. Try breaking out of your comfort zone, learn a new skill, get a bit messy, and most importantly, have fun!