Ah, summer camp. Memories of sleeping under the stars, toasting marshmallows and catching fireflies make us long for simpler times with fewer deadlines and appointments. We might not be able to travel back in time, but we can almost re-create those days. These sleepaway camps outside the city are worth the trek for a little rest, relaxation and, just maybe, a bit of revelry.
Camp No Counselors
Drive: 3.5 Hrs
You may have heard of Camp No Counselors, where the fun seemingly never ends. It was featured on Shark Tank in May and almost always sells out (the June dates sold out weeks ago!). This isn’t sitting around a fire singing “Kumbaya,” though. This is adult summer camp and by that we mean: booze. You can hit the Slip ‘N Slide and go zip-lining or just hang out at an open bar and go nuts at dance parties (we’re looking forward to the Jock Jams–themed party planned this year). Registration includes lodging, all meals, an open bar and all activities. Wisconsin Dells, WI (campnocounselors.com). Aug 25–28; $550–$599.
Drive: 2 hrs
You can essentially make your own summer camp at Wandawega in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. While you can’t “sign up for camp” here, you can get a group of friends together (4 to 20 people, typically) and spend a few nights “at camp” in a self-guided sort of way. Stay in a vintage cabin or an old bunkhouse (book through Airbnb), and spend your days exploring the countryside or reading a book by the lake and private beach. You’ll have access to community spaces like a tree house, campfire pits and sports courts—and you can even use the canoes. Just keep in mind: This is not glamping. Lodging is primitive—no heat or A/C—with stripped-down rooms. Bring a sleeping bag, some beach towels and basically anything you’d take to rough it. W5453 Lake View, Elkhorn, WI (wandawega.com/visit). $600 and up.
Drive: 5-plus hrs
Okay, so it is officially too late to sign up for this year’s Camp Throwback, but tickets for June 2017 go on sale soon, believe it or not. For more than 60 years, the wide-open space that is commonly known as Camp Graham—just an hour outside of Columbus, Ohio—has been calling to campers. While usually young 4-H’ers honing their skills as future farmers are found here, a few times each year, a slightly rowdier (and older) crowd rolls in for Camp Throwback. A water-balloon toss, three-legged races, archery, crafts—it’s exactly how we remember camp! Well, aside from the fact that Camp Throwback also has hangover yoga and a ’70s dance party. It’s a bit of a hike to get here, so you may as well make the journey to Ohio worth it. Rent a van, pack your sleeping bags, and throw in your best sidekicks—this is gonna be one hell of a road trip through farm country. If you’ve got some time, channel your inner milkmaid with a stop at Fair Oak Farms (5431 E 600 N, DeMotte, IN; fofarms.com; $12–$27), where you can literally watch a calf be born, among other adventures. 164 Springhill Rd, Clarksville, OH (campthrowback.com). Aug 11–14; $260.