Calling all campers
Why your summer camp days may be closer than you think
If you thought your camp days were behind you, it may be time to think again. Luxury retreats, adventure-based excursions and historic hideaways today are offering new ways to tap into summer’s most beloved memories by way of surfing, star-gazing and self-care. From a sprawling Wyoming ranch to astronomy encounters in Alabama, here are four of summer’s most exciting camp-inspired experiences now.
Endless Summer Surf Camp (San Onofre State Park, California)
This summer marks the 30th anniversary of this surf camp, which was founded by former professional surf judge and competition organizer Mary Lou Drummy. Now run by surf instructor Jason Senn, the camp welcomes an array of ages and skill levels each summer for week-long experiences on the water. There’s also a variety of perks and creature comforts along the way (including dedicated beach grounds; a customized campsite with a TV lounge, game area and dining area; and nourishing, home-cooked meals).
Though the team is committed to each camper’s personal surfing goals (as evidenced by instruction both in and out of the water—via video coaching, equipment tips and board demos), they’re just as intent on helping everyone to build meaningful, long-lasting friendships—which makes this global group all the more fun.
Brush Creek Ranch (Saratoga, Wyoming)
Those seeking the intersection of adventure and luxury will find it at this dream destination of the West, a 30,000-acre working cattle ranch in Wyoming’s North Platte River Valley. Here, guests will quickly discover an array of outdoor experiences, from fly fishing and archery to mountain biking and horseback riding.
On a property of this size and stature, active excursions are only the beginning—a vast range of lodging accommodations also help to build out an all encompassing stay, including The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch, Magee Homestead and French Creek Sportsmen’s Club.
After a day outside, guests can wind down with family-style feasts in the Lodge Great Room, alfresco barbeques set to live bluegrass sounds, mountaintop picnics, or sunset cocktails on the Falcon’s Peak Overlook deck. Epicureans and gardeners will also enjoy a visit to the recently opened Farm at Brush Creek, an immersive affair featuring a 24,000-squarefoot certified-organic greenhouse, state-of-the-art distillery/brewpub and fine dining restaurant.
Space Camp® with the U.S. Space & Rocket Center (Huntsville, Alabama)
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to register for this epic camp experience—though you may well feel like one after. That’s because this two-and three-day programming is built by and for astronomy enthusiasts, with itineraries that include astronaut training, simulated missions, space history lessons and access to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center (home to the world’s largest collection of space hardware).
At the core of all these initiatives is a hope for guests to engage through lenses of team-building, problem-solving, wonder and discovery—the very reasons the Center started the program. Those who enroll in Space Camp® (there are programs for both children and adults) do so for a variety of reasons, whether it’s to try something new or relive the camp days of their youth.
No matter your intention coming in, chances are you’ll feel changed on the way out, whether from a more significant appreciation for our universe to a deepened desire to chase it (the camp has helped to launch or further the careers of thousands in space exploration, including a number of astronauts, engineers and astronomers).
Camp Wandawega (Elkhorn, Wisconsin)
When it comes to the summer camp vibes of youth, it doesn’t get any closer than those found at this 25-acre lakeside Midwest retreat—right down to their “Manifesto of Low Expectations,” an endearing document outlining the grounds’ no-frills philosophies. It’s easy to follow around these parts, because the property—and all of the nostalgia infused activities and spaces that accompany it—invites you to unwind.
Cabins, archery, outdoor movies, treehouses, canoes and campfires provide ample settings and activities for summer days—not to mention the camp’s other throwback thrills, like the Camp Canteen with retro-themed snacks and a general store outfitted by owners David Hernandez and Tereasa Surratt (both of whom have a serious eye for all things aesthetic). Their hope in all of it? That guests connect to the simple pleasures of simpler days, one s’mores bite at a time.
Information courtesy of Endless Summer Surf Camp, Brush Creek Ranch, Space Camp® with the US Space & Rocket Center, Camp Wandawega.
This story appears in Adventure Awaits, Berkley One’s digital magazine celebrating creators, experiences and stories. Read the issue here.
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Header image: Kate Berry