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Pack Your Bags for (Adult) Summer Camp

Click on image to see edited/printed version.
Click on image to see edited/printed version.

By Dianna Stampfler

Who knew—summer camp is no longer just for kids! As many as a million adults, aged 21 and older, attend summer at more than 800 locations nationwide each year. And while some camps are theme focused—such as wine camp, baseball camp or band camp—many are created to replicate summer camps from our youth (with the addition of adult beverages, of course).

Offering all the fun of a traditional camp activities, the newly-created Camp Forever Fun also adds adult-friendly programming like craft beer, yoga and dance parties to its daily schedule. The inaugural camp was held over Memorial Weekend, with the next public gathering scheduled for Labor Day Weekend—Sept. 2-5. Up to 100 guests can be accommodated, says camp director Joel Reisig.

Campers will find competitive events like archery, beach volleyball, kickball, dodgeball, color wars, tug-of-war, Apache relay races and a talent show that bring out the best in team-building. Relaxing activities include yoga, nature hikes, stargazing and bonfires. Arts and crafts, water sports and evening programs such as foam and bubble dance parties, add to the weekend’s festivities. While camp is geared toward ages 23-39, anyone over the age of 21 is welcome.

Camp Forever Fun is held at the Kimball Camp YMCA, situated on 120 acres along the southeast side of Long Lake in Reading (Hillsdale County). Established in 1938, the camp offers a 38-acre nature preserve, a high adventure ropes course, a 40-foot climbing tower and a giant swing. Campers stay in one of the group cabins for men or women, “The Ridge” double-wing bunkhouse or one of the few private cabins available for couples and small groups. The complex also offers a dining hall and bathhouse facilities for campers.

Adults looking to unplug from the draining life of technology should check in to Camp Kitigin, Sept. 16-18, at Saginaw YMCA’s Camp Timbers in West Branch. All proceeds will help support recreational programs throughout Michigan.

“Camp Kitigin is a chance for adults to get outside and be a kid again,” says Stephanie Wirtz, Recreation Programmer at Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “This is more than just a weekend at camp. It’s a chance to reconnect with your inner child, get back in touch with nature and make memories with new friends.”

This camp is “screen free” which means no smartphones, laptops, tablets or other devices. Campers are encouraged to experience things, not spend so much time documenting it all for social media. Upon arrival, each guest is presented with a drawstring bag, journal, pen and disposable camera, giving the weekend an “old school” approach for capturing the fun moments of the weekend.

Activities include mountain biking, disc golf, fishing, archery, arts and crafts, cooking, storytelling, paddling, zip lining, night hikes, campfires and more.

Campers are divided out into men’s and women’s cabins, just like kids’ camp. However, at Camp Kitigin, there are no curfews and late night shenanigans are encouraged!

“Play like a kid, party like a grown-up” is the theme of Camp No Counselors, which is planning its Michigan weekend Sept. 22-25 on Pickerel Lake in Newaygo, on the southern edge of the Manistee National Forest. It is one of 10 nationwide locations on the schedule for 2016.

A group of 200 like-minded adults is hand-selected from a list of interested applicants—couples, small groups and evening singles wishing to escape the daily grind and reconnect with other humans in a natural environment.

“By curating a diverse and intimate group, we enable adults to strengthen old relationships and build new genuine friendships off-line, as they did when they were kids,” say camp organizers. “Our campers leave each camp smiling from ear to ear, reinvigorated with life and full of unforgettable memories and experiences with friends – both old and new.”

Campers are served three square meals a day, starting with a hearty breakfast complete with mimosas and Bloody Marys. From there, the day is as slow or fast paced as each person wants it to be.

Artistic campers can try their hand at friendship bracelet making, painting, tie-dying or other crafts; competitive campers team up to play baseball, basketball, archery, ping pong or color wars; water lovers will find enjoyment sailing, kayaking, wakeboarding, water skiing or tubing; thrill seekers can tackle the zip line or the ropes course. Even those who just want to lay around and read or sunbathe are encouraged to do so.

Evening themed parties bring the group back together, with activities such as dance parties, costume parties, a talent show and more. Of course, since this an adult camp, a bar featuring cocktails, beer and wine, is almost always open.


Reprinted from the Summer 2016 issue of Michigan BLUE Magazine.