Don’t send your kids to camp this summer!
Keep your kids at home and YOU go to summer camp.
It’s the latest rage. Summer camp for adults, in trendy Simi Valley, Calif., that is. And it’s about to catch on all over, I know, because I read about it in The New York Times.
The summer camp the Times told me about is on a Southern California ranch owned by American Jewish University that normally caters to Jewish youngsters but every Labor Day, the 2,800 acres of rolling hills and herds of cows in the Simi Valley are transformed into a new kind of camp, “Trybal Gatherings for Jewish Adults.”
The Times reporter, a nice Jewish girl with a husband and kids, confesses that “ … there are two main differences between Jewish kids’ camp and Jewish adults’ camp: No bedtime, and booze, lots of it.”
If they’re serving Dr Pepper, it sounds like my kind of camp, and why should our Jewish friends have all the trendy fun, anyway?
If Cub Scout camp counts as summer camp, then I can claim to be a summer camp alumnus. My one Cub Scout memory is the last time I ever went. Pat McGinnis stepped on my Coke bottle-thick glasses and I spent most of the week in a daze and walking into things.
No eyeglasses was a serious thing for me. I grew up never being able to see the “Big E” at the eye doctor. I was practically blind until just a couple years ago when Dr. Justus Thomas worked his miracle and implanted new corneas in me.
I have much better memories of the summer week I spent as a high school junior at a fine-arts camp at the University of Nebraska. We weren’t exactly roughing it since we bedded down in a dorm and ate in the cafeteria. What I liked about that “camp” is exactly what the Times reporter wrote about.
“Togetherness is what Trybal is all about,” she writes, “… packed from early morning to midnight with get-to-know-you games and group activities like partner massage and mah-jongg, pickling and pool time.”
I don’t remember any partner massages, but I do remember creating some life-long friendships with people I still exchange Christmas cards with.
As for adult summer camps, there’s only one I can think of that may qualify – the opening retreat that the Lake Houston Chamber’s Leadership Lake Houston holds every September at Camp Allen in Navasota. I helped found “Leadership” almost 10 years ago and was Leadership Lake Houston co-chair for two years.
It never fails. At every orientation, I’d get to hear the new class members moaning and groaning over having to bunk down with their fellow adults at Camp Allen, even for one night.
By the second day of the “retreat,” team building kicked in. Bonds were formed. Friendships were forged, partly because the class leader, Kent Hutchison, knows how to inspire and motivate, and partly because you learn what a fellow classmate is really like when the two of you are poised together on top of a 30-foot pole, ready to jump. Okay, you’re both wearing safety harnesses.
The Jewish camp is so successful, writes the Times reporter, that similar camps are popping up in New York, Wisconsin, Atlanta, Seattle, Toronto – and Austin. The reporter writes that some come to relive their childhood. Some are looking for a spouse. Really? Others, the reporter writes, look for a few days of peace and quiet and the isolation from texting and responsibility and spouses and kids – not necessarily in that order.
I’m not sure I need to take another relationship workshop or suffer through another ropes course, but solar art (whatever that is), yoga, Slip-n-Slide kickball, downtime in a hammock? All the Dr Pepper I can inhale? Hey, I’m game for it.