Remember summer camp? Long afternoons of nature walks or horseback riding, launching from a rope swing into a lake, singing goofy songs around a fire at night. Those days may seem like a distant memory, but it's not too late to relive them. Adult summer camps are becoming a ritual for more and more under-rested, overconnected grown-ups – places where you can play capture the flag or learn to carve a kayak instead of checking your email by the pool.
According to the American Camp Association, 1 million people over the age of 18 went to summer camp last year. And adult camps in the U.S. have grown some 10 percent over the past decade. "Put eight people in a bunkhouse with no phones and they become a mini tribe," says Levi Felix, 29, who co-founded a tech-free retreat outside San Francisco two years ago. "You become mindful about yourself and the people around you." Here are six camps where that authentic kind of connectedness – with new people and new skills – will leave you feeling like a kid again.
Boatmaking in New England
The most unique woodworking shop in the U.S. lies in the tiny central-coast fishing town (population 840) of Brooklin. Using all hand tools, The WoodenBoat School's instructors – many master builders from local shipyards – will show you and a friend how to build a kayak in a single week (even if you're a total novice). By the end, you're car-topping her down the road, unvarnished but ready to float. "It's an amazing feeling, especially if you do it with your son or wife or best friend," says Rich Hilsinger, a student in 1983 and now the school's director. Started three decades ago by the founder of WoodenBoat magazine, the school is set on an idyllic 64-acre former saltwater farm built in the 1920s. Some enthusiasts arrive by schooner, which can be secured at the school's private moorings; those on four wheels shack up in the old caretaker's house or a cottage in town.
Cost: Fundamentals of Boatbuilding, two weeks, $1,200; Build Your Own Chuckanut Kayak, six days, $600.
Credit: Courtesy The WoodenBoat School
Do: The school has a fleet of small boats for after-dinner sailing. But most people just sit outside and talk shop.