Itook many things for granted in my youth, including getting shipped off to sleepover camp on Lake Muskoka, where I spent Canada Day through to the opening of the CNE for most of my formative summers. I learned how to gybe a sailboat, sang Country Roads round the campfire and plotted raids to the boys’ cabins after curfew (they almost never came to fruition; 12-year-olds talk big).
Fun as it was, I longed to spend the summer idling around the city like my non-camp-going friends. My mother was not sympathetic. There will come a day, she warned, as she ironed name labels onto my sweatshirts, when I’ll wish I could go back to camp, but the opportunity will be long gone.
Fortunately, this is the rare occasion when my mother was only half right. You can go back again – or even have your first sleep-away camp experience – at these getaways for adults.
With a chef roster that includes Tom Brodi, formerly of Ritz-Carlton Toronto’s TOCA, and Globe Bistro’s Daniel Sanders, it’s already clear the Two Islands Weekend will have my camp experiences beat food-wise. In all other departments the inaugural program, held on the grounds of Camp Timberlane near Haliburton, sounds truly old-school, from the bunkmate request forms to a game of capture the flag. “It’ll be pretty similar to the camp you knew as a kid,” says Danielle Goldfinger, who is organizing the weekend. “Camp Timberlane staff are running a lot of the daytime activities – yoga, canoeing, field sports and all that. After 4, we’ll have bars set up and that’s where it’ll probably start to differ a little from what you remember.” Sept. 6 to 8, $300; twoislandsweekend.com
Northern Edge Algonquin
While most camp experiences focus inward on the camp itself, Northern Edge Algonquin is your base camp for exploring Ontario’s oldest and largest provincial park – by canoe, stand-up paddle boat, mountain bike and more. “What we do really depends on the group of people we have up that weekend,” says Tim Lucier, who heads up group sales and marketing. A typical group for the Explorer’s Cabin packages will be up to eight guests who may have known each other before, but not necessarily. Accommodations are canvas-sided tents that sleep up to four and food is based on the idea of SLOW – sustainable, local, organic and wholesome. Weekends through Labour Day, $650 a person; northernedgealgonquin.com
With activities such as beer hikes (campers hike through the woods from keg to keg) and mixology classes, Club Getaway in the Connecticut Berkshires puts the “adult” in adult camp. But that doesn’t mean participants won’t get their fill of more traditional outdoor pastimes as well, including dodgeball, archery and water activities. And for those whose fondest camp memories involve trying to get past first base – we don’t mean baseball – Club Getaway has singles weekends, including those done in partnership with JDate. Every weekend through Sept. 6 (fall finale weekend October 4), from $329 (U.S.); clubgetaway.com
Wanakita Women’s Weekends
Women’s weekends at YMCA Wanakita have proven so popular as girlfriend getaways – last year a bachelorette party was in attendance – the organizers added a second weekend every fall. Situated on Koshlong Lake near Haliburton, Ont., Wanakita offers a true-to-form camp experience, from being split up into cabin groups all the way down to KP. That’s right – kitchen duty. “You kill it you fill it,” says outdoor centre director Shannon Blanchard, invoking that old dining hall creed. “Everyone has to take a turn setting the tables and sweeping up after.” It’s not all work: On top of canoeing and ropes courses, Wanakita brings in spa practitioners for some grown-up pampering. Sept. 27 to 29 and Oct. 4 to 6, $207; wanakita.ymcahbb.ca
Canadian Adventure Camp
An unexpected boon about adult camps: You can learn summer skills, such as water skiing without being humiliated by nimbler youngsters. “It’s more encouraging learning in an adult atmosphere, because you can’t be embarrassed by young children who just zoom off and do it right away,” says Skip Connett, senior director at Canadian Adventure Camp on Lake Temagami. Its week-long ski and water-sport-focused adult program is heading into its 34th year; some campers have been regulars since nearly the beginning. “A lot of our adult campers didn’t go to camp as children and felt like a big part of their lives were missing,” Connett says. “One woman told me,:‘I whined and wheedled my way out of camp as a child and never forgave my parents for letting me get away with it.’” (Once again, thanks mom.) August 24 to 30, $825. canadianadventurecamp.com