7 summer camps for grown-ups

For many of us, summer camp evokes memories of long, carefree days of fishing, swimming, crafts and campfires — not to mention all the new friends we’d meet. But who says we have to let go of those experiences as we age?

The growing trend of adult fantasy camps and “glamping” offers a new level of sophistication to the traditional summer escape. Think unusual experiences and like-minded campmates — along with some of the comforts we look forward to on vacation.

Here are eight ideas to get you thinking.

Master a new craft

If arts and crafts was your favourite part of the camp experience, why not make them the focus of your vacation? Road Scholar has a full complement of hands-on programs focussing on a particular skill or art form. Most programs are seven days and six nights and all meals and accommodations are provided.

For instance, the Welded Projects and Sculpture for the Home and Garden program in Williamsburg, Massachusetts teaches you how to make practical and decorative items that will stand up to the weather. After a full day of expert-led courses and studio time, enjoy evening activities like movies and artist talks.

Programs start at $749 USD and include most materials and gratuities. Other options include fibre arts, glass bead making, drawing, painting and woodworking (to name a few!) For a full list of programs, visit www.roadscholar.org.

Train to be an astronaut

Who didn’t want to be an astronaut when they were young? You don’t have to cash out your retirement savings for a $200,000 ticket on Virgin Galactic to make that dream a reality — there’s a Space Camp for adults too. For a more modest $549 USD, you can spend three days and two nights at the Adult Space Academy at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. 

During your stay, you’ll get to train on Astronaut Simulators — including a 1/6th Gravity Chair and Multi-Axis Trainer — plus build and launch your own model rocket. Of course, learning more about space is also part of the fun. (You are in one of the world’s largest space museums, after all.) 

Tuition includes all meals and onsite accommodations — you just need to worry about getting there.

Dig for dinosaur bones

What if dinosaurs were more your style when you were a kid? You won’t just be pretending to be a paleontologist in Road Scholar’s Digging for Dinosaurs: The Jurassic Experience program. You’ll earn a Basic Field Techniques Certification as you excavate bones and identify specimens in Wyoming’s Wind River Canyon. You’ll learn the techniques and tools of the trade from experts and conduct fieldwork in dinosaur quarries. (Your dinosaur education also includes tours of dig sites and the Wyoming Dinosaur Center.)

There is a test at the end, but you’ll be well prepared after days of hands-on experience. The certification isn’t just for bragging rights — it qualifies you to volunteer with the organization that runs the program or with other museums.

Expect to pay $749 USD for this six-day, five-night adventure. You won’t have to rough it in a tent — the fee includes hotel accommodations and restaurants.

Rock around the clock

It’s band camp with attitude. Instead of outdated cabins, think hotels like the MGM Hotel and Resort in Las Vegas. No bored camp counsellors either. At Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp, you’ll learn the ropes in master classes with celebrity Rock Star counsellors, and join one in a band. By the end of the week, you’ll be ready to perform live in a battle of the bands. (And you’ll get a DVD of the concert as a souvenir — and proof.)

Of course, one of the camp’s highlights is the opportunity to rub elbows with some pretty big names in the business. For instance, this October’s camp experience in Las Vegas features rockers Gene Simmons, Zakk Wylde, Sebastian Bach and Vince Neil.

Packages come with a rock star price tag, ranging $6999 USD to $8999 USD for the early-bird specials, not including add-ons like the $799 “Groupie Package” (which includes meals and the opening night party).

If you’re looking for a more modest music camp experience, try Lake Field Music’s Adult Music Camp in Toronto held each August. Day programs start at $849 per person per week and there are options for shared or private accommodations.

Hit the waves in the wilderness of Northern Ontario

Want to re-live that camp experience you had as a kid? For one week in August, Canadian Adventure Camp banishes the youngsters and opens its doors to the young at heart during its annual Adult Camp. Pack your duffle bag and escape to Adventure Island on Lake Temagami — you’ll even be sleeping in a camper cabin again.

What to do while you’re there? Water skiing is one of the camp’s specialties, and the facilities boasts one of the best coaching teams in Canada. Enjoy more leisurely time on the water in a canoe or kayak, or try your hand at sailing — when you’re not relaxing on the beach, that is.

The camp experience runs $785 for the weeklong stay, and be sure to pack all the essentials!

Test your survival skills

Give the term “roughing it” a whole new meaning with a survival skills camp like the Adult Camps at Lifesong Wilderness Adventures in California. There’s a full range of camps available depending on your skill level. Beginners can start with the six-day First Circle camp that teaches basics such as constructing shelter, finding water, hunting, identifying plants and building a fire. Each additional camp experience builds on the skills and offers new challenges.

Truly ambitious campers can try the 28-day Wilderness Immersion Adult Survival Training program, and those looking to commune with nature can do so with The Way: A Wilderness Journey program. There is also a winter camp option if you can’t make it this summer.

Depending on the length of your stay, camps run between $795 USD and $3200 USD and include meals and accommodations — though expect both to be fairly primitive!


Go glamping

Did we scare you off with survival skills and building your own shelter? Don’t worry — you can have a tent and enjoy some luxuries with the glamping trend. As the name suggests, it’s camping kicked up a notch — sometimes to a glamourous level with designer tents, modern amenities and settings that look more like resorts than a campground.

Can’t picture it? Here’s an example: The Alure Stanthorpe in Queensland, Australia. These safari style tented villas are fully insulated and air conditioned and furnished with king-sized four-poster beds, an ensuite bathroom, fireplace and private deck. (Rates start at $320 AUD per night.)

Of course, this resort goes to luxurious extremes. Glamping can be much more modest — like the yurts at Flora Bora in Saskatchewan’s boreal forest. Available for $1176 per week based on double occupancy, these circular wooden dwellings are like a one room cabin complete with bed, seating area, eat-in kitchen and bathroom. Enjoy the wilderness experience from an Adirondack chair on your private deck.

For more glamping ideas, see GoGlamping.net.

Looking for more? This list is just a small selection of the opportunities out there. Every year, there are more and more options for adults of all ages to escape from the ordinary — whether that means relaxing on a beach by the lake or living out a favourite fantasy. Let these ideas inspire your own planning and research for a camp experience you’ll never forget.