The summer’s quirkiest camps for grown-ups who don’t wanna grow up
The summer's sweetest overnight camps for adults offer top-notch meals, mushroom foraging sessions and Beyoncé dance classes
Camp No Counselors
June 16 to 19, Lake Manitouwabing (2.5 hours from Toronto)
Live out that Wet Hot American Summer fantasy when this U.S. company hosts its first retreat in Canada. Judging by the adult camps they’ve run near New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, the crowd will likely include a cross-section of entertainment industry types, millennial foodies, fashion bloggers and musicians. Attendees generally submit their Instagram handles as part of the application process.
Accommodation: Spartan cabins (with bunk beds) that sleep up to 12.
Food and drink: Steak and ribs, corn on the cob and fish tacos served in the mess hall, plus mimosas and bloody marys at breakfast, beer and wine at lunch and dinner, and an open bar at night.
Activities: All the usual lake fun (tubing, wakeboarding, waterskiing), plus the highlight of the weekend: Colour War, a day-long frenzy of team-based competition (dodge ball, capture the flag, lip-synch battles, etc.).
Price: $690 per person.
Zombie Survival Camp
June 17 to 19, a maple syrup farm near Bancroft (3 hours from Toronto)
This is the place for fans of The Walking Dead and survivalists with a sense of humour. The zany premise belies the serious survival skills taught over the course of an eventful weekend.
Accommodation: Cabins (with bunk beds) that sleep up to 10.
Activities: Saturday is dedicated to intensive training in melee weapons skills, paramilitary survival skills and bushcraft. On Sunday, the zombie invasion begins: campers must carry out missions, all while being chased by dozens of zombified volunteer LARPers wielding foam weapons. The action culminates in a Zombie Prom where instructors, survivors and actors in ghoulface slow dance.
Price: $300 per person.
Two Islands Weekend
September 9 to 11, Camp Timberlane (3 hours from Toronto)
As a kid, Danielle Goldfinger summered at Jewish overnight camps like Camp Solelim and Camp Shalom. Now, at age 36, she’s reinvented the experience as a secular, upscale getaway for 30-somethings.
Accommodation: Cabins (with bunks and private bathrooms) that sleep up to 20. All campers share the nearby shower buildings.
Food and drink: No dining hall slop here. Guest chefs (in previous years from the Ritz-Carlton) rotate meal duty, conjuring up seafood boils, pig roasts, southern-style fried chicken and biscuits, and more. Libations are provided by P.E.C.’s Sandbanks Winery. Open bar from 5 p.m. onward.
Activities: Standard camp games augmented by Beyoncé dance classes, cake-decorating contests and zorbing (rolling downhill in human-sized hamster balls).
Price: $375 per person.
Lake Field Music Camp
August 7 to 14, Lakefield College (1.5 hours from Toronto)
Lakefield is one of the most prestigious private schools in the province, but come summer a portion of the 65-hectare wooded property is given over to this music camp, which attracts amateur musicians from across the world for an intense, seven-day jam session. No auditions required.
Accommodation: The camp makes use of the school’s dormitories, so lodgings are a step up from camp cabins. There are single-occupancy rooms with AC and semi-private bathrooms.
Activities: A dizzying number of seminars and music classes during the day; camper-musicians perform in concerts and cabarets at night.
Price: from $699 (for observers) to $1,499 (for the fully loaded, full participant package).
July 14 to 17 or July 21 to 24, Ecology Retreat Centre (1 hour from Toronto)
This camp is part of the growing digital detox movement. Devices, even cameras, are strictly forbidden, and work talk, though hard to police, is seriously discouraged. Everyone must choose a nickname at the start of the weekend and answer to it for the duration.
Accommodation: Dorm rooms shared with two or three other campers, or a single tent in the on-site tent city.
Food and drink: This is a detox for your body, too. The meals are vegetarian (salads, grain bowls, meatless curries), with gluten-free and dairy-free options. Alcohol is permitted but not encouraged (it’s BYO).
Activities: Zen pastimes such as tapping meditation, sound baths, Lego castle–building, mushroom foraging, adult colouring featuring erotic illustrations, and typewriting a letter to your eight-year-old self.
Price: $539 per person.