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Five fun activities that will turn NYC into a giant summer camp

Written by
Jennifer Picht

Recapturing the fun of summer camp, doesn't require a journey into the middle of the woods. With these activities, you can turn the entire city into Camp Mohawk.

Explore the great outdoors
Tired of the Gotham grind? You don’t need to flee the city or become a camp counselor to find a rustic activity—the parks department lets you become a badass outdoorsperson in your own backyard (okay, everyone’s backyard: Central Park). During the annual event Adventures NYC, you can enjoy rock climbing, log rolling, fishing demonstrations and free fitness classes while appreciating the nature that’s right in front of you. Naumberg Bandshell, Central Park, 72nd St at Fifth Ave ( June 18 11am–4pm; free.

Bond with some new BFFs 
One of the biggest draws of summer camp—apart from all the s’mores you can eat—is the team-building exercises, which sound mad cheesy on paper but are actually a ton of fun in real life. Prepare to make some serious buds and test your noggin by participating in the NYC Challenge, which is basically a huge color-war competition. Teams of two or more race around the city, solving clues and exploring undiscovered parts of Gotham in order to beat other challengers for immortal glory and cash prizes. (Oh, a special award goes to the crew with the best uniforms. So, you know, bring it.) Various locations ( July 24 at 2pm; $55/person.

Gorge on (drinkable) s’mores
You’ll be reminded of that glorious burning-fire–aroma at Camp—the bar—which looks like a woodland cabin with the added bonus of AC! Inside the Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, watering hole, with its walls made of logs and tree trunks, you and your pals can relive the glory days of campfires by cozying up to the makeshift fire pit, roasting some marshmallows and playing classic board games like Jenga and Connect Four while sipping s’more martinis. 179 Smith St, Brooklyn (718-852-8086,

Watch a flick under the stars
Bring your friends and the popcorn to Brooklyn’s alfresco film fest, SummerScreen, which lets you bask in ’90s nostalgia. Guard your ground, sprawl out on a blanket, and discreetly drink booze (like a sneaky teen) while watching free flicks like Scream (July 6), The Fast and the Furious (July 20) and 10 Things I Hate About You (July 27). Bonus: There’s live music at 6pm and food trucks like Pizza Moto for when you get the munchies. McCarren Park, Bayard St to Nassau Ave between Leonard and North 12th Sts, Brooklyn ( July 6–Aug 10; Wed at 6pm; free. 

Battle in a massive water fight
Pray to the ’90s toy gods that your mom didn’t toss your childhood Super Soaker, because you’ll need to pack some serious H2O at Waterfight NYC on the Great Lawn in Central Park. Thousands of New Yorkers duke it out, squirt guns blazing, during this sopping-wet day of fun. Show up in your best swimsuit, but make sure to leave your water balloons at home (Park officials say the debris they leave behind is a big no-no). Midpark between 79th and 85th Sts ( July TBA; free.

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