Susan Michelle's Compass
Next Vacation? Be A Kid Again At Summer Camp For Grown-Ups
By Susan Michelle
Apr 25, 2009 - 5:13:07 PM

As the weather heats up, and the economy continues to slump, I can’t help but look at the summer ahead and think of one thing: summer camp.  It’s cheap, it’s easy, and it’s about the best summer vacation you can have as a kid.  If you’ve ever been, you surely remember: communing with nature.  Rustic cabins filled with bunk beds.  Group mess halls full of scrap buckets.  Days packed with sweaty, themed-activities.  Evenings spent singing by the campfire.  Kids who missed their families.  Kids who broke the rules.  Counselors who broke the rules.  The best friends you made and never saw again.


Why can’t grown-ups go to camp, too?  Actually, we can.  There’s quite a few summer camp options for adults right here in California and with all-inclusive costs averaging under $500, you can’t beat the price.  Just keep in mind: these camps aren’t retreats, and they’re not camping--they’re a cross between “Dirty Dancing” and “Meatballs,” with a variety of camp experiences available:

TRADITIONAL CAMP: The liberal-minded Unitarian/Universalist (UU) church runs traditional-style camps for adults, with bonding over campfires, canoes, and cabins rather than dogma.  Activities range from the uber-traditional: arts and crafts, swimming, and tetherball at Bass Lake Camp”¦to the little left of center: drumming, beading, round-singing, and labyrinth walking at the Mendocino Woodlands Camp”¦to the way-left: dream therapy, haiku, water color art, whale watching, and the meaning of life at the senior citizen-geared Stebbins at Asilomar, near Monterey.  $120-$675/person, or

FAMILY CAMP:  If you’re really strapped, the YMCA offers financial assistance and sliding scales to help your family attend camp together.  Prices range from $58/person to $850/family, depending on camper’s age, family size, financial need, and lodging choice.  Activities include horseback riding, camp dances, swimming, archery, mootering (mountain scooters), fishing, skits, night hikes, and zip line-running.  Check to find a camp near you. Special note: look at Camp Campbell if your family’s a little less-traditional in composition.

LADIES-ONLY CAMP: If the idea of boys sneaking into your cabin after hours doesn’t warm your cockles, make it a girlfriend getaway at Quincy’s Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch.  At their female City Slickers-like Cowgirl Boot Camp in May, you can ride horses and taste wine presumably not at the same time. $500,  The aforementioned YMCA also has a Women’s Wellness Weekend at Camp Campbell, offering nutrition classes, Pilates, Yoga and Cardio alongside the standard camp activities.

ARTS CAMP: If arts and crafts hour isn’t enough to satisfy your creative side, head to the San Jacinto Mountains for Ceramics, Painting, Jewelry, Native American Art, Writing or Filmmaking Camp at the Idyllwild Adult Arts Center.  $295-$785,  

Attending summer camp as an adult might have its challenges: instead of just a good sleeping bag, we now need Blackberrys, make up, and non-snoring bunkmates to make us happy.  But if you can lay those needs aside, and bask in simple childhood activities like ghost stories and challenge courses, you just might find yourself, like the recent box office hit, feeling “17 Again””¦or younger.

About the Author: A former Hollywood producer and now 2nd-generation travel professional, Susan Michelle travels the planet as the “face” of the fashion-forward Compass travel lifestyle brand. For more articles, tips, and hot spots from Susan write her directly at

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