British Columbia

Bonfires, bunk mates and booze: adults having time of their lives at B.C. summer camps

With summer just around the corner, the adult brain often drifts dreamily away from work and stress toward thoughts of a much-needed holiday
Bubble ball soccer, like most adventures at The Wild Rumpus can only be enjoyed if the player hasn't consumed alcohol. (The Wild Rumpus)

With summer just around the corner, the adult brain often drifts dreamily from work toward thoughts of a much-needed holiday.

Typically, summer camp is for kids, but even adults need open-ended time to get away from it all, perhaps meet a new partner, or even chat with other parents about life's challenges.

"People get very trapped and consumed in their day-to-day lives, where they're either stuck in an office job or a relationship that they're not really stoked about," said Matt Margetts, camp director of The Wild Rumpus.

For those who want to live like a kid again, a variety of adult camps have cropped up in B.C.— sure to make a happy camper out of anyone looking for a bit of nostalgia-fuelled summer fun.

At The Wild Rumpus on Gambier Island, 150 people will take part in camping classics like eating s'mores around the bonfire, sleeping in rustic cabins and countless outdoor games — but with the added bonus of free-flowing alcohol and costume-themed dance parties over the July long weekend.

The founders wanted an all-inclusive adult summer camp where people could escape their routines and dive into new adventures.

Campers at The Wild Rumpus play a game of tug-of-war. (The Wild Rumpus)

Without Wi-Fi, social media and dating apps, the camp experience at Wild Rumpus has evolved into a place where friendships and relationships are forged in an authentic way, Margetts said.

​On the first day of camp, singles and a few couples arrive for orientation, followed by a tour of the sleeping cabins where they meet their bunk buddies.

Afterward, campers play various games aimed at breaking the ice. The open bar serving beer, ciders and cocktails helps that along.

"It's really cool seeing two single people come to camp by themselves, and then meeting and leaving camp together," said Margett.

Multi-generational camping

Tucked in the woods on Quadra Island, Camp Homewood offers back-to-basics tent camping for entire families.

Brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins share a 12-person tent during the a week-long session, often with a family member you might not expect.

"Grandparents that were here either as kids or as parents," said general director Paul Bailey. "Now they're introducing their grand kids to camp."

"It gives parents a bit of a break, and it gives grandparents a fabulous time with their grand kids." 

Year after year, generations of families have been coming to Camp Homewood on Quadra Island. (Camp Homewood)

Stillwood camp, on Cultus Lake near Chilliwack opens its doors twice a year to single parents and their kids for family camp time. 

Twenty-five families get some much-needed downtime where they can take in speaker sessions, share in conversations with other single parents or enjoy time to themselves

Parents are also paired up with a summer staff member for one-on-one support while their kids are out doing kid camp activities like kayaking, zip lining and crafts.

"We wanted to do something that is specific to this group because no one else is," said David Feeley, Stillwood's camp director.

"We wanted them to know that they are cared for as well."

Summer after summer, people return to all of these camps.

"We created a community, a Wild Rumpus alumni, and those people now spend time with each other outside of camp," Margetts said

"We made those relationships happen, and that's where it's really cool for me. We did that."

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