My kiddo gets an average of 3 months of summer vacation, and spends weeks at camp, kayaking, swimming, rock climbing, and tromping through the woods with new friends. In contrast, I have spent far too many summers in an office where I couldn’t even open a window. Which leaves me wondering: Why isn’t there summer camp for adults?
As it turns out, there is. (Thanks, Google!) However, a fair number of adult summer camps appear to be designed for youngish folks who want to drink all day, party under the moonlight, and stumble around the forest yelling “Wooooo!!!” (or “Yaaaaas!!!”, depending on the demographic). But that’s not my scene.
I did turn up some appealing options like Jonathan Fields’ Camp GLP, Camp Grounded, and of course Burning Man. And I’ve participated in fun outdoor activities with groups like Outdoor Afro, so they are out there.
But, sadly, summer camp is not something most adults do. Most Americans don’t even use the vacation time their employers grant them. I know that’s not you, but just let it sink in for a moment: Chances are, you’re surrounded by people who work too much and play too little.
In fact, unless they teach Kindergarten, grown-ups are not encouraged to incorporate play into their lives. (And, no, I’m not talking about the hyper-organized, consultant-facilitated exercises that you’re made to do at your company’s annual retreat.)
I’m not proposing that adults spend their entire summers at camp. I’m just suggesting that we take our damn vacations and spend at least a week or two every year ignoring our email and producing absolutely nothing but doodles, cocktails, and new friends.
I dream of a summer camp for adults that will include the following:
rest and relax
Take a good long stretch of time to do nothing. There will be hammocks. Lay back. Look at the clouds and the stars. Read a self-help book or a novel. Take a cat nap or write in your journal.
Chefs will cook all of our meals for us. Cold drinks, tea/coffee, and snacks will be available throughout the day. The food will be healthy, hearty, and delicious with options for various diets. When it’s meal time, just show up and enjoy the company!
In addition to daily yoga sessions, there also will be daily Yoga Nidra sessions, where you can get some of your deepest rest ever.
Sleep will be revered, because you probably don’t get enough sleep. I realize that some people naturally wake up early, but for those who don’t, sleeping in is strongly encouraged.
There will be water to splash around in. Cool off your feet. Jump in. Float on your back.
Back on dry land, grab a new friend and build a human pyramid. Learn how to double-Dutch. Make a mask of your alter ego. Henna your entire body. Play drums and dance like a lunatic.
Do some acroyoga. Hula hoop. Dance, dance, dance. (How to reconcile dance parties with long, deep sleep? Have to work this through, but it must be possible!)
meet new people
Remember when you showed up at the first day of summer camp, nervous and excited? All the other campers were feeling something similar. And then you’d start doing stuff (see Play, above), and before you knew it you were having fun with your new friends.
Maybe you’re longing to connect with your playful, curious side, or want to nudge your shy side out of its shell. Maybe you’ve been driven by your to-do list and need to reconnect with spontaneity.
At my summer camp, each person will be asked before arriving: What’s the spark that’s missing in your life? What can you do (or not do) at camp to ignite that spark?