5 awesome sleep-away summer camps for grown-ups

When it comes to going away to camp — whether that means traditional out-in-the-woods, Native American-named summer sleepover camp, basketball camp or fat camp — they’ve made quite an impression on us. (It could be that all the hijinks-laden movies made them out to be pretty monumental too.)

Going away to camp is one of those times we never forget from our childhood. Here are some chances to return to those experiences. Photo: Courtesy of Camp Grounded/Daniel Johnson

But if grown-up you longs for those days of macrame, canoeing and cabins of bunk beds, the fun doesn’t have to end now that you’re no longer freaked out by body hair. There are plenty of opportunities for adults to be happy campers this summer.

Adult Space Academy

Adult Space Academy, part of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, where it’s just fine to be a space cadet. Photo: Courtesy of U.S. Space & Rocket Center
So your counselors may have called you a space cadet as a kid. Not to worry — you can be a cadet or a full-on astronaut at this camp.

Adult Space Academy at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center located in Huntsville, Alabama, offers the opportunity to assume roles in hands-on, interactive space missions. Yes, this may be the next closest thing to blasting off to explore the Kuiper Belt, and many kids who go to Space Camp return as adults for the Space Academy.

You’ll build and launch your own rocket and put your engineering skills to the test on a protective heat shield, plus go all in on an extended-duration simulated mission. It’s all designed and gauged for adults, with three- and four-day camps running at about $500 per person, with monthly events.

American Museum of Natural History Night at the Museum

Spend a night at the museum and sleep under this little guy. Photo: Courtesy amnh.org
Are you that person who goes to a museum with your friends and doesn’t notice the rest of the crew asleep by the gift shop while you’re entrenched for three hours in an exhibit on pre-colonial toothbrushes? This is a chance to join like-minded folks (cough, nerds, cough) for a complete museum immersion.

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It starts with jazz and champagne, and then you can explore the empty museum all night, finding fossils by flashlight and spending as much time as you want with mummified Egyptians and life-sized skeletons of long-extinct giant reptiles. A cot is provided as you snuggle up in your sleeping bag under a 94-foot-long blue whale.

Dinner, wine and beer are provided, as well as breakfast in the morning. Adult nights for 2017 run through at $300 per person.

Windells Adult Skate Camp

What could be better than access to Windells Skate Camp without the throngs of groms? Photo: Courtesy of Windells
Windells at Mount Hood in Oregon has long been known for unreal ski, skate, BMX and snowboard camps, but this skate camp is specifically for the 21-and-older crowd. We all know that skateboarders take all walks of life as adults, but at their core, they’re still skaters.

At camp, this experience gets you access to the Windells Campus’ famed Concrete Jungle, Backyard Bowl and Courtyard Plaza (without the ankle-biters all over it.) Then you get in the van with your guides and explore Portland’s food, brews and skate parks before heading out to Lincoln City Skatepark and a night on the Oregon Coast. It’s $600 per person and runs August 24-27, 2017.

Camp Grounded

Camp Grounded’s form of “social media” is sitting on a log and talking to new friends. Photo: Courtesy of Camp Grounded/Daniel Johnson
Of all the experiences on our list, this one is the recreated summer-camp experience from your childhood (or perhaps the one you’ve always been bummed you missed out on.) In the modern world of late-night emails and digital tethers, Camp Grounded is all about swimming, singing and silliness, with maybe some finger painting.

Campers can take part in everything from yoga, color wars and rock climbing to making friendship bracelets and playing capture the flag. There are a few rules — mostly no digital technology and no drugs or alcohol. It’s about regaining that connection with nature, ourselves and other people.

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And if all that sounds a little corny, maybe it’s supposed to. These sell out fast. There is availability in the May 19-22, 2017, camp for $695 per person.

National Geographic Photo Workshop in Cowboy Country

Learn how to take better photos while immersed in the Badlands of Wyoming. Photo: Courtesy of Adam Bailey/Flickr
There are plenty of photography workshops you can take all over the world, but if you’re looking for a mix of action, scenery and the American West, well, maybe you need to spend some time in cowboy country with Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Jay Dickman.

Dickman has a résumé that speaks for itself, with 40 years of Nat Geo photojournalism. But this workshop puts you in the action. You’ll stay at the CM Ranch in the Badlands of Wyoming, capturing wranglers, horse drives, lasso-tossing and even a behind-the-scenes look at a Friday-night rodeo.

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This one runs a full week — June 11-17 and June 18-24, 2017 — at $4,345 per person.

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