Adult sleepaway camps mix childhood pasttimes and boozy, grown-up fun

Water slide


A wave of new summer camps is sweeping the nation, growing in popularity and enjoying widespread attention on social media. These particular camps offer boozy fun of the sort you couldn’t (legally) have if you were lucky enough to go to camp as a kid. They’re adults-only sleepaway camps, and they’re popping up all across America, offering a variety of different youth-reliving activities. On some levels, an adult sleepaway camp is exactly what it sounds like. But, on others, it’s more…much, much more.


Tug of war


Take Ohio’s Camp Throwback, for example. The lush, wooded spot forty-five minutes north of Cincinnati offers everything a traditional camp has on hand: arts and crafts, campfires, archery, swimming, and the like. But it also offers the opportunity to get tanked. Plus, one of the camp’s few rules is No Kids Allowed.

Camp Throwback founder Brittany Gibbons suggests that adult sleepaway camp should be about letting loose and reliving your adolescence–in short, about having as much fun as possible. “At Camp Throwback you do everything you did at camp as a kid,” she says. “You’d think that once you reach a certain age, you’d be an adult. But something about camp brings you right back to that 15-year-old debauchery.”

Brittany’s wildly successful lifestyle blog was part of the inspiration behind Camp Throwback, a key purpose of which is to teach adults how to chill out and make friends.

“Nothing really tells you how to do that,” Gibbons says, “once you get around 25 and up. And this is a really great place to go, and just fit in. Everybody just sort of accepts you, which is a really crazy, fun thing.”


Southern Comfort


There’s also Camp No Counselors, based out of Chicago, but with spin-off locations in New York, Los Angeles, and Nashville. In addition to the “No Kids” rule, there’s another major component of life at this adult sleepaway camp: no talking about work. Though networking–of a sort–is still part of life while you’re away. In fact, it’s built into the Camp No Counselors mission statement, which begins with founder Adam Tichauer’s story:


As the delegated event organizer for my group of friends, I found it was becoming increasingly difficult to gather our crew. We were all busy with work, and the demands of adult life were consuming our weekends. Personally, I had lost the passion for my work and needed to recharge, get away and just have fun.  I knew that only an outlandish idea would garner enough excitement to get the whole group on board, so I decided to rent out a summer camp. What started as a small weekend getaway with my closest friends quickly became a 90-person event as the word spread through friends.


CNC offers a bevy of activities–tubing, tug-of-war, capture the flag, ropes courses, and a water slide among them–as well as an all-inclusive meals and open bar package. Camp Throwback is BYOB, but, according to testimonies, that fact seemed to encourage a congenial, share-what-you’ve-got, laid-back atmosphere.


Ein guitars


How much will an adult sleepaway camp weekend for the ages set you back? It’s less than you might think–depending on your alcohol options. A three-day weekend at Camp Throwback costs $250–unfortunately, though, the next available weekend (June 2-5 of 2016) is completely sold out. Gibbons is working on adding dates, but, to her surprise and delight, is having trouble keeping up with demand.

Camp No Counselors is pricier. The next available weekend, from October 1-4 in Los Angeles, costs $450 per person for groups of four or more, or $475 for individuals–but, again, all of those tickets are long gone. The only ones left are the $575 late registration tickets. And all other weekends in New York, Nashville, and Chicago are sold way out.

Then again, if you’re in the greater Los Angeles area and in desperate need of a fun, adolescent weekend away, $575 might sound like a real bargain. And, since Camp No Counselors provides alcohol, the only question is whether you can drink enough in three days to make the difference in price between Camp Throwback and Camp No Counselors worth it.


Beer pong



As for that other adult activity, Camp Throwback adheres to the time-honored camp tradition of separate cabins for boys and girls. (There don’t appear to be any such restrictions at Camp No Counselors–at least, none that are listed on the company’s web site.) Part of that is simply because Gibbons doesn’t want the weekend to become a retreat of non-stop sexual debauchery.

And part of that is so Gibbons can have an early-morning giggle. As she recently told CNN, she likes “to wake up at 6 a.m. and see who’s doing ‘The Walk’ from the girls’ cabin or the boys’ cabin each morning.”


(Photo credits: Camp Throwback and Camp No Counselors via Facebook)

website statistics