Nostalgia: Tips for Getting Your Summer Camp On

June 25, 2012

First things first, I’ve never been to summer camp. Correction, sleep-away camp. I’ve never been to sleep-away summer camp. As a child, when summertime rolled around, there were many day camps and summer programs in the city that I participated in – but actually going away for a couple of months was an experience I didn’t get to have. As, a result I have romanticized the idea of summer sleep-away camp – which is why Moonrise Kingdom and other summer camp themed movies appeals to me. However, I wouldn’t trade any of my experience of traipsing around NYC and living a urban summer life.

Now that I am so far removed from ever having the opportunity to attend summer sleep-away camp, I want to combine the best of both worlds – by taking the elements of summer camp and incorporating them into my every day. A positive about being an adult means that no one can tell me what to do, where to go and most importantly, I don’t have a curfew to adhere to.

The best way to get my nostalgia for summer camp on is to make an agenda and try to recreate the experience. For a minute, I thought what a ridiculous idea but after talking to a few people, I quickly realized that there was a certain appeal to this notion. So, if you’re longing to re-live summer camp, below are some tips on how to get your summer camp on. Of course, there will be solo activities but I would highly recommend to include some friends along the way. Remember, one of the best parts of summer camp was meeting new people, making friends and sharing experiences.

First  up: Think of a camp name. This is crucial – if you’ve ever been to camp or watched any camp movie then you know that it needs a name. Click here to read an extensive list of fictional summer camp names from movies, tv shows, etc. Sidenote: Why are people always getting into trouble at summer camp? Stuff is always going down whether you’re in The Parent Trap or at Camp Crystal Lake hiding out from Jason’s crazy mother.

You can keep your camp name American traditional by going the nature route but I prefer to think of something a little bit out of the box. An inside joke, combination of your favorite words, theme, whatever. Have fun with it.

So, now that you’ve founded Camp Whatchamacallit it’s time to gather your friends and get moving with the activities. The thing about camps is that those pesky kids are always outside. This is the time to be one with mother nature. Now, I don’t have immediate access to the woods but I do have 2 incredible parks at my disposable – Central and Prospect Parks which have trails and enough wooded areas to make me feel like I’m in a forest somewhere. An urban girl has to use what’s at her disposal but if I feel the need to go on a real hike then I can plan a day trip upstate or somewhere where I can get back to the land. Like Tim Gunn says, “Make it work.”

Below is a list of 10 ideas to recreate the camp experience this summer.

1. Go horseback riding. Pretty standard and obvious. Find a horse. Ride it.

2. Make friendship bracelets or do any arts & crafts project. Get some lanyard. Braid it.

3. Go canoeing/kayaking. Again, pretty standard. Find a river or lake, canoe it.

4. Go star-gazing and see if you can figure out the constellations – or even better, make them up.

5. Make s’mores. S’mores galore.

6. Have a movie night – or better yet a movie weekend slumber party. Get a few friends together decide on a movie theme (umm, Summer Camp movies, of course!) and watch over the weekend. Brunch, champagne, snacks, and good times are all on the agenda.

7. Take a photo-walk. Carry your camera and snap everything you see. You’ll be amazed at what you would normally walk by without so much of a second glance.

8. Go on an art crawl. You can walk around your neighborhood or take a destination trip to a museum. Also, remember that you don’t have to think of art in the traditional sense. Latte art, anyone?

9. Have a bonfire/campfire. This is tricky and requires a bit more of finagling. There are some beaches where it’s illegal to have a bonfire – so check before  you do something stupid. As for a campfire – this might require you to plan a camping trip. Or keep it simple by using a fire pit in the backyard. BE CAREFUL, YOU PYROS.

10. Get a map of your city/town – let’s get old school for a minute. Pick a place and bike to it. Plan to have a picnic once you reach your destination.

Now, this is just a starting off point, there are tons more things you can do. Get super creative. Just saw the movie “Brave” and want to brush up on your archery skills? Go for it. Want to learn how to tie knots? No one’s stopping you. Keep it normal or make it super weird. Whatever you decide – just have a good time.


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