2013 Camp No Counselors
Nick Onken2013 Camp No Counselors

5 summer camps for adults in California

Who says summer camps are just for kids? Go off the grid at these summer camps meant specifically for the grown-up kid you are.


Here's a grown-up fact: Getting a job, paying bills and doing adult duties don't make s'mores taste any less good. Archery, sailing and arts & crafts don't get any less fun, and capture the flag can be just as thrilling—if not more—when there's beer and real, raw, grown-up pride attached to that flag. Still not convinced? It's a good thing that summer camps for adults have grown in popularity over the last few years, mostly in response to our hyper-connected lives. These five summer camps in California will let you step away from your iPhone and pick up a tennis racket, canoe paddle or marshmallow instead.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in California

Send yourself off to these adult summer camps

Camp No Counselors is all about that free feeling when your counselors left you unsupervised for an entire night that one summer after the ice cream social—wait, that didn't happen to you? Want to play game after game of dodgeball, learn to shoot like Katniss and redeem your childhood color war loss? Do it—no counselor will force you to go swim in the lake instead. Want to sunbathe, make friendship bracelets and sit around a campfire? You can do that too—no required activities here besides summer fun. This camp is located just far enough out of Los Angeles to feel like you've escaped the crowds and not so far that you'll get homesick. But who's really going to get homesick when there's an open bar all. weekend. long

Dates: Oct. 1-4 (sold out), Oct. 9-12
Location: Valencia
Cost: $450 as part of a group, $475 single registration, $750 for a private, 2-person cabin
You won't find an open bar at Camp Grounded but you will find redwoods, and an utter lack of technology. Camp Grounded's rules are simple: no tech (screens, wearables, even digital cameras), no networking or work-talk, no pets or kids, no drugs or alcohol, no alarms, and definitely no dubstep and glowsticks. It's probably pretty similar to the summer camps you actually attended as a pre-Facebook child. There's more of a range in the activities, from the traditional (swimming, archery, talent show, color wars) to the new age-y (tai chi, sweat lodge, pranayama, silent dinner) to the truly analog (creative writing with typewriters, pinhole photography, charcoal drawing). The idea is to "disconnect to reconnect" through traditional camp activities, wellness friendship and self expression with grown-up kids of all ages.

Dates: May 22-25, May 29-June 1
Location: Mendocino
Cost: $495-645
This camp isn't afraid to bill itself as a conference for creatives, but there are still no cell phones allowed. Founded by Sonja Rasula of Unique USA (the Unique Space and Unique craft fairs), the goal of CAMP is collaboration, innovation and community in a group of 200 creative people. You'll be attending workshops and panels with business leaders, experts and entrepreneurs, and also swimming in the lake, enjoying art classes and roasting marshmallows. With that price tag comes a pretty luxe experience in the San Bernardino Mountains: heated lodges with bathrooms and linens are provided, so leave your sixth-grade camp sleeping bag in the depths of the garage where you found it.

Date: May 28-31
Location: Big Bear
Cost: $1400
If you're the kind of person who prefers water colors over color wars, Camp ArtSeen is your kind of scene. An art retreat in a summer camp setting, this Northern California session is about reconnecting with your creative side. Attend classes on jewelry making, painting, drawing, carving, mural painting, and more; if your new friends and collaborators start a game of Marco Polo in the pool, you should probably join in.

Dates: July 24-26
Location: Guerneville
Cost: $795
Rancho La Puerta is just over the border in Tecate, Mexico, but it's actually closer to San Diego than Big Bear, and Northern California, for sure. It's also not technically a summer camp—it's more of a rustic wellness resort—but when you're there, you'll be doing camp things: hiking, bird watching, swimming, yoga, scupture, communal meals, and more. Founded 75 years ago, Rancho La Puerta is one of the original wellness retreats. You might listen to lectures from politicians and writers and attend an intimate concert with a famous name after a full day of yoga, spa treatments, exercise and cooking classes. Though the resort has modernized over the years (there's now a small wine bar and Wi-Fi in certain guest lounges), you'll embrace how rustic it is and be way too busy to wish you weren't so unplugged.

Dates: 3-7 nights; ongoing
Location: Tecate, MX
Cost: $3,050-$4,850

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