Summer camps for grown-ups

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of December 1-7, 1995

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Wildlife tours of the Southwest
Snowboarder's guide to Banff
Summer camps for grown-ups
Affordable skiing in the Northwest
Takakaw, the biggest waterfall in B.C.

Summer camps for grown-ups
Q: I miss the joy of summer camp. Are there any summer camps for adults in Texas or anywhere in the U.S.? I would love to spend a week at a camp that teaches basic and advanced outdoor sports and maybe some nature classes. And, of course, a dining hall that serves oatmeal every morning. Any suggestions?
Eileen Hatcher
Houston, TX
[email protected]

A: As an adult looking for a grown-up version of sleep-away camp, you may want to consider booking a week at a one-stop sporting resort that offers a wide range of outdoor activities, complete with gear, guides, and, yes, good old-fashioned oatmeal breakfasts. First off, you'll need to decide which sports you're interested in and where you'd like to spend your vacation, and then choose from an impressive list of low-key, high-energy "summer camps."

If you're looking for a change of scenery, Northern Outdoors in the southern stoop of Maine's North Woods may be the place for you. The resort's 120-acre site is surrounded by millions of acres of accessible pine and hardwood forest and some of the best whitewater in the Northeast. Northern Outdoors offers day trips on the Kennebec, Penobscot, and the Dead rivers; you'll learn to negotiate more than 12 miles of Class III-IV rapids through narrow gorges and roiling hydraulics ($75-$105 per person, including a cookout lunch). Survive that, and you might try a guided 15-mile mountain bike ride on forest roads ($45 per person, including lunch). Or sign up for an introductory rock climbing course on a nearby 70-foot face ($75, with lunch). Guided fishing trips for smallmouth bass on the Kennebec's headwaters--touted to be the best in the world--are also available for $175 per person, with lunch.

The resort has six motel-style lodge rooms and ten self-catering "lodgominiums"--all of which sleep up to six people ($20-$45 per person, per night). You'll likely spend most of your time, though, recounting adventures with the other guests in the cathedral-ceilinged, pine-paneled main lodge, or enjoying "Down East" meals in the adjacent restaurant. Call the folks at Northern Outdoors at 800-765-7238 for more details.

It's also worth considering a week at the Joe Dodge Lodge at Pinkham Notch, an Appalachian Mountain Club facility in New Hampshire's White Mountains. Sign up for a wide range of full-day and multi-day AMC-run workshops and outings. Although they won't finalize their summer 1996 schedule or rates until early January, they plan on offering everything from introductory backpacking, wilderness first aid, low-impact camping, canoeing, nature photography, and wild edibles. Best of all, you'll stay in low-key, rustic accommodations and eat your meals in a cafeteria-style restaurant--oatmeal is a staple here on chilly summer mornings. Expect to pay $57 per person per night, including breakfast and dinner. Call 603-466-2727 for a copy of their forthcoming summer catalog.

If you don't want to go so far afield, take a closer look at Otter Bar Lodge in Forks of Salmon, California. You'll come away from a week at this northern California resort with a strong grasp of whitewater paddling or mountain biking--not to mention fond memories of camping at an old lookout cabin atop 6,000-foot Blue Ridge Mountain, river snorkeling, and volleyball games on the front lawn. Back at the lodge, take your pick of rooms from the ranch-style main lodge or unpretentious cabins and enjoy buffet meals in the cedar-walled dining room. A week of kayaking, including all meals, classes, and a shared room will run you $1,290; a mountain-biking week is $1,200. For reservations or information, call 916-462-4772.

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