About six weeks ago, I took a vacation. A real vacation. It was partially a family visit to see my dad on St. Thomas, where I was born (and where he still lives half the year).

Most of the time when I visit St. Thomas, it's a "working holiday." This really means I'm pinned to my computer several hours a day--mostly searching for reliable WiFi on the island.

Not so this trip. This time I took the whole 8 days totally off. I never once logged into work. I regularly left my wallet and phone at home. I went swimming, surfing, and shell-seeking. I helped cook big family dinners; I played guitar; I drank bushwackers (the Virgin Islands' response to piña coladas).

It was incredible.

The fact is, most of us rarely unplug from our devices and truly get away--even when we know we should. We take trips, but not "real" vacations.

This is a mistake.

Neuroscientists and physicians agree: both our bodies and our brains need a break. A genuine chance to rejuvenate and recharge. To really perform at our best, we need to reset every once in a while.

The week I came home, I made more money in my freelance jobs than I had in long time. I was cheerful and excited about my entrepreneurial projects, rather than daunted and burned out (as I had been). I was creative, restored, and refreshed--and it showed in my work.

Summer is coming up, and with it, the chance to relax. But if you don't carve out some time to do just that, it could just pass you by.

Don't let it.

Here are five adult summer camps to help you do just that:

1. Connection Camp

Where: Sussex, NJ (~2 hours from NYC)
When: June 13-16, 2019 (Thurs-Sun)

Founded by connection expert Amy Silverman and featured by O Magazine this year, Connection Camp goes beyond kayaking and campfires--it's really about love.

"We're all about fostering connection on a deep, earnest level - beyond schmoozing and networking, beyond 'friending' and 'liking,' beyond small talk and social masks," says Silverman. "We're talking about connection that's heart-to-heart, hand-to-hand, soul-to-soul."

Basically, this is the camp for you if you want to make lifelong friends, sing around the campfire, and learn interesting things. Camp includes access to 40+ workshops on subjects that include: nurturing your inner writer; Thai massage; cannabis education; finding your "inner trickster"; sound healing; even an interactive discussion on healthy sexuality. 

The amenities are another draw: a heated swimming pool with water slides; paddleboards for the lake; a performing arts amphitheater (for--what else?--the camp talent show); and a mini-golf course.

Interestingly, Silverman is also starting to run specialized camps for teams at startups, large companies, and more. These custom sleepaway camps are a new alternative to off-sites, and can last anywhere from one day to one week. Silverman says their value is "high engagement, low-risk interactions, deep growth that can focus on anything from team-building and collaboration, innovation, diversity training, or just plain celebration after a big push or launch."  

Imagine a rousing game of elbow tag followed by an exceptional brainstorming session on your company's next direction.

2. 'Camp' Camp

Where: Southwestern Maine
When: August 18-25, 2019 (Sunday-Sunday)

Since 1997, 'Camp' Camp has been the premiere adult summer camp for the LGBTQ community. A full week long, the camp of​fers creative pursuits like pottery, as well as traditional summer camp joys like hiking, lake sailing, and even late-night canoe trips. Special perk: meals are made by professional chefs, from locally-sourced ingredients.

The camp also gives back by donating a portion of camp fees to a different LGBTQ organization each year.  

3. Camp Halcyon

Where: Wautoma, Wisconsin
When: July 4-7; August 15-18; October 3-6, 2019

If you like to get into the spirit with spirits, you'll love Camp Halcyon--it's summer camp with a twist: alcohol. It's got wine tasting; a nightly s'mores bar; and craft beer from local breweries including Explorium Brewpub and Bass Bay Brewhouse.

Add in summer camp staples like archery, volleyball, arts & crafts, tie-dying, and you've got yourself a recipe for satisfaction.

4. Adult Band Camp

Where: Interlochen, Michigan
When: August 6-11, 2019 (Tues-Sun)

This one time, at band camp ... you got to jam with 70 other adult musicians from around the world. Held at the prestigious Interlochen Center for the Arts, this camp encourages you to "experience the joy of ensemble performance in a challenging, supportive, fun and friendly environment."

Musical faculty members teach masterclasses at a variety of levels; coach chamber music sessions daily; and actually play in the ensemble with participants. Camp culminates with a show for the local public (or family members who want to attend) at the Corson Auditorium on the Interlochen campus.

5. Zombie Survival Camp

Where: Pine Barrens, NJ (~1 hour east of Philly)
When: Day and weekend camps all through the summer and beyond

If you're more about training for the apocalypse than singing kumbaya, go here. Zombie Survival Camp offers weapons trainings like self-defense with melee weapons; how to shoot firearms (with live ammo); and how to use a crossbow. It's also got somewhat tamer classes on how to use night-vision goggles and thermal optics; find and make shelter in the woods; and perform first aid.

Zombie Survival Camp's motto: "The better prepared you are today, the easier tomorrow will be.

Published on: May 26, 2019
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