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.
Unplugging in the Redwoods
Set in a 1950s Boy Scout camp amid 80 acres of Bay Area redwoods, Camp Grounded in Navarro is a device-free return to adolescence for techies, cubicle grunts, and anyone who's overdosed on email and texting. The rules: no cell phones, laptops, tablets, even watches; and no talk of work, your age, or your real name (nicknames only). "You literally don't know anything about anybody at first," says Robert Macauley, an L.A.-based tech entrepreneur who went by Megaman last year. "You get to find out about people in a really personal way." Campers stay in bunkhouses that sleep eight, and spend afternoons having fun the way we did before cable: color wars, capture the flag, talent shows. In the mess hall, they pick conversation starters from a jar (funniest movie you've seen, first kiss). "We're always being defined by 140 characters or Facebook avatars," says camp co-founder Levi Felix. "This is a chance to redefine who you are."
Cost: From $485 for four days.
Credit: Scott Sporleder
Bring: Just like summer camp when you were a kid, you'll need your own sleeping bag and pillow, and good shoes for hiking.