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.
The best adult summer camps near Chicago
Camp No Counselors
Live out all of your Wet Hot American Summer dreams at these weekend getaways, with sports and activities during the day and theme parties and open bars all night long. The “Chicago” location of Camp No Counselors, available for booking for Labor Day weekend, is actually across the lake in Michigan; there are also locations in upstate Michigan and at the Wisconsin Dells with dates this year in June and September.
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, your own food and drink and basically anything you’d take to rough it.
wandawega.com/visit. $550/night and up.
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, two weekends a 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, just with more liquor. Registration includes lodging, food and activities; you’ll need to BYOB, but it’s enthusiastically encouraged that you do.
Camp Forever Fun
Located in Bloomingdale, Michigan, this annual camp offers some of what your 14-year-old self would expect (horseback riding, archery, talent show) and others Kid You wouldn’t know what to do with (outdoor foam party, anyone?). Craft beer from nearby Short’s Brewing Company is included in your price, as is wine, but don’t expect nonstop drinking games.
campforeverfun.com. $349; enter promo code “Time Out” for $50 off.