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.
Roping Out West
At Lori Bridwell's Arizona Cowboy College in Scottsdale, you'll learn not just the fundamentals of riding, roping, and fixing a fence line, but a little horse-whispering, too. ("Approach shoulder-to-shoulder as horses do, so you're respecting their space.") Cowboys-in-training get their bearings at the "in-town ranch" in Scottsdale, with short rides into the nearby desert, then head 15 miles north to a working ranch, where they sleep in bunkhouses or under the stars – literally. "Cowboys don't sleep in tents, else how would they escape a stampede?" Bridwell says. After 7 AM, you're in the saddle till late afternoon, when you brush and feed your horse. "It's a super-empowering experience," Bridwell says. "You're in charge of a 1,200-pound animal."
Go: Forty minutes from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
Credit: Courtesy Arizona Cowboy College
Cost: $2,250 for five days.
Bring: Knife for cutting hay bales.