Pack Your Bags for (Adult) Summer Camp!

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Adults partying on beach
Photography courtesy Thinkstock

WHO KNEW? Summer camp is no longer just for kids! As many as a million adults attend summer camp at more than 800 locations nationwide each year. And while some are theme focused such as wine camp, baseball camp or band camp, many are meant to replicate childhood summer camps (with the addition of adult beverages).

Offering all the fun of traditional camp activities, the newly created Camp Forever Fun (campforeverfun.com) adds adult-friendly programming like craft beer, yoga and dance parties to its schedule. The inaugural camp was held Memorial Day weekend, with the next one 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 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 ropes course, a 40-foot climbing tower and a giant swing. Campers stay in one of the group cabins for men or women, at The Ridge double-wing bunkhouse, or in one of the private cabins for couples and small groups.

Adults looking to unplug from technology should check in to Camp Kitigin (mparks.org/campkitigin) Sept. 16-18 at Saginaw YMCA’s Camp Timbers in West Branch. All proceeds 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. “It’s a chance to reconnect with your inner child, get back in touch with nature and make memories with new friends.”

The camp is “screen free” — no smartphones, laptops, tablets or other devices. Upon arrival, each guest is presented with a journal, pen and disposable camera, giving the weekend an “old school” approach for capturing fun moments.

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, but 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 (campnocounselors.com), 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 for 2016.

A group of 200 like-minded adults is hand-selected from a list of interested applicants — couples, small groups and even 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.

Campers are served three 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 making friendship bracelets, painting, tie-dying or other crafts; competitive campers team up to play baseball, basketball, archery, ping pong or color wars; water lovers will enjoy sailing, kayaking, wakeboarding, water skiing or tubing; thrill seekers can tackle the zip line or ropes course.

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 is an adult camp, a bar featuring cocktails, beer and wine, is almost always open.

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