Adults-Only Summer Camps Where You Can Be a Kid Again

Shed responsibilities and play like a kid at these adults-only summer camps.

Ah, summer camp. Those were the good ol’ days, spent cooling off in the lake after a sweltering game of Capture the Flag, followed by drying off by the campfire, eating s’mores and telling ghost stories. Now there’s paying mortgages, meeting deadlines and answering the never-ending texts, calls and notifications. And is it just us, or has making friends—let alone plans to see them—gotten harder?

Adult summer camps have exploded in popularity over the past few years, as people long to shed adult responsibility for a weekend to play like a kid again, with nothing more complex to decide than what to do next.

That’s what Adam Tichauer was looking for in 2013, when he rented a summer camp facility and asked 20 of his friends to join him in an adult summer camp. He was stunned by the popularity of the idea. His friends invited their friends and by opening day, 90 campers filled the bunks. He said it turned into an amazing weekend and many new friendships were made.

“Disconnection from having no cell service was really amazing,” he said. “To get out of the work environment and disconnect from regular adult life was really impactful for this group.”

Later that year, he founded Camp No Counselors to bring that experience to more people. By 2017, Camp No Counselors operated more than 25 camps in 16 locations across the U.S. and Canada.

Campers play Tug of War at Camp No Counselors.

“We’re always on phone and social media. It’s hard to disconnect,” Tichauer said. “It’s the first time in the last 10 years (most people) haven’t been connected. I think people are seeking that.”

He said that in addition, millennials—Camp No Counselors’ core age group is 25-35—are looking to collect more experiences than objects. Summer camp is one of them.

“They’re spending more money and time on friends, rather than a new bag or shoes,” he said. 

Ben Camp and Jacob Winterstein made a similar discovery. In 2014, the childhood friends went to a 30th birthday party at a summer camp and decided to create their own—Camp Bonfire.

“I think people are hungry at this point in their lives for a place to unwind, desiring a time to be in nature and in face-to-face contact with each other,” Camp said. 

To aid in disconnecting from “the real world,” campers are not allowed to use technology unless it’s in a small area set aside for that purpose. It keeps people in the moment, he added.

Though most camps listed below offer the chance to disconnect from technology and participate in the traditional activities of summer camp, most offer options to appeal to the adult sensibilities, as well. Wine, anyone? 

Camp Bonfire

Play Like a Kid...

Camp Bonfire

Winterstein and Camp enjoy creating experiences and hospitality, and this "Real Summer Camp for Adults" caters to both. There are 40 activities for campers to choose from, which allows them to try new things. Fun-loving counselors lead games like dodgeball and glow frisbee. New BFFs can giggle the afternoon away making charcoal drawings of each other or practicing a shtick for the talent show. Or for a little R and R, leave them all behind and escape to a hammock with a good book. 

Location and registration: Philadelphia; $349-$500 

Alcohol: Allowed, but only served after the sun goes down. Craft beer and liquor is provided for those who enjoy a drink while sitting around the campfire, but alcohol is not the focus, said Camp.

Technology: Allowed, but only in a small, designated area. Disconnecting from technology is strongly encouraged. Secure storage is available and professional photographers will document all the fun you're having. 

Adult Space Academy

Those who always wanted to be an astronaut but never got to go to space camp now have their chance. For a weekend, campers participate in interactive space missions and team-building exercises. Don't expect kiddie demonstrations—you'll use your adult brain to help design a heat shield. But let's be honest, who wouldn't want to play on the Multi-Axis Trainer?

Location and registration: Huntsville, Alabama; $549-$649

Alcohol: Not allowed.

Technology: Yes, as long as it does not disrupt other campers. Wi-Fi may be limited.

Christian Camp

Maybe your camp experience was church camp, but now jobs, bills and kids barely leave time to pray. The Christian Camp and Conference Association offers camps around the country to help campers unplug and focus on deepening their faith. Play on a ropes course or shoot a few arrows, then rest on a dock taking in the wonder of God's creation. Later roast s'mores and get lost in a philosophical discussion with a spiritual leader.

Location and registration: Locations vary throughout the country. Use the search tool to find one near you. Registration fees vary.

Alcohol: Not allowed.

Technology: Allowed.

Camp Halcyon

Summer camp plus wine tastings equal Camp Halcyon. Spend the day canoeing and kayaking, then taste cigars and scotch 101, or learn the ins and outs of beer making. Don't think wine tasting equals glamping, though. Campers sleep in simple cabins in the woods. 

Location and registration: Wautoma, Wisconsin; $459

Alcohol: Allowed. There is a full-service cocktail bar and alcohol is served at meals. 

Technology: Allowed, but it's best to turn them off and focus on the camp experience.

Campers watch water fun at Camp No Counselors.

...and Party Like a Grown Up

Camp No Counselors

This camp invites you to "escape to happiness." It combines the fun and games of a youth camp with the freedoms of adulthood. According to Tichauer, the name is a metaphor for having no rules or restrictions. There are, however, "non-counselors" who lead activities and ensure everything runs safely and smoothly. The registration fee covers everything—shared cabins, meals, open bar and all activities for the weekend.

Locations and registration: There are 13 locations across each region of the U.S. and and three in western Canada; $525-$599 USD, $650-$699 CAD 

Alcohol: Allowed. The open-bar concept means mimosas and bloody marys are served at breakfast, beer and wine at lunch and open bar is from happy hour on. No alcohol is served between meals during activity periods.

Technology: Allowed, but there is no Wi-Fi and spotty cell service. Campers are advised to secure any technology they bring as the camp has no options for storage.  

Camp Throwback

Camp Throwback promises the summer camp you remember, but with more booze, hilarity and sensitive guys strumming guitars around the campfire. Activities include arts and crafts, archery, swimming, slip 'n' slides, and the food is typical camp fare (think sloppy joes). 

Location and registration: Clarskville, Ohio; $300

Alcohol: Allowed, but not provided. Bring your own.

Technology: Allowed. Limited Wi-Fi, but the campground has excellent 4G service for some cell providers. 

Camp Play Mile High!

Camp Play Mile High! is all about playing hard and partying hard. This camp is centered on team sports. Campers team up for a weekend-long Color War. Between scoring points for competition, keep moving with basketball and volleyball games, disc golf, hiking and other activities. The fun continues when the sun goes down with a barbecue and a surprise activity—think glow-stick dance party. 

Location and registration: Empire, Colorado; $300

Alcohol: Beer is provided. Liquor is allowed, but bring your own. 

Technology: Allowed

Zip lining at Camp Bonfire

Go Off the Grid 

Camp Grounded

Campers burned out on technology can finally shut it off at Camp Grounded. It is a retreat run by Digital Detox, an organization that teaches people to "disconnect to reconnect." This summer camp offers several options for lodging—male and female cabins, a Genderful Village for campers who don't identify as male or female (or who do but appreciate gender-fluid spaces) or a bring-your-own-tent camping area. There's the usual camp activities, but here you'll also find a wellness yurt, counseling sessions, massage for a holistic camp experience and a camp-wide surprise-theme dance to add to the fun.

Location and registration: Mendocino, California; $695-$1,390

Alcohol: Not allowed.

Technology: Not allowed.

Camp Reset

Campers here use only nicknames to further distance them from "adult life." Work talk is not allowed, but costumes are. (You can finally be Batman in public!). Don't even worry about the boss seeing you on Instagram—cameras are not allowed. The schedule includes plenty of "me time" to get away and unwind, group activities and workshops to learn something new.

Location and registration: Toronto, Ontario; registration fees TBA—sign up for their email list to be notified when prices are announced and to keep up with other camp news.

Alcohol: Allowed but not provided. Bring your own, but please drink in moderation. 

Technology: Not allowed. 

Soul Camp

For a more nourishing experience, Soul Camp offers workshops, classes and seminars to enrich the whole person—mind, body and spirit. Go from morning yoga to stand-up paddle boarding to classes on essential oils and dreamcatcher-making. Once the sun goes down, show off in a talent show, then dance to live music and a late-night disco.

Location and registration: New York; Chicago, Illinois; Fresno, California; $1,499-$1,699

Alcohol: Not allowed.

Technology: Not allowed.

Water fun at Camp No Counselors