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Summer Camp Grows Up: 6 Midwest-Based Camps for Adults

June 9, 2021

Why should kids have all the fun? Check out these Midwest-based camps geared toward adults

By Perry Haselden 

Roasting marshmallows, sleeping under the stars, singing until your voice gives out: If you ever attended summer camp as a kid, you know that the experience can be magical. And as our lives grow ever more stressful, it’s no surprise that we want to recapture that feeling. In recent years, summer camps geared toward grown-ups have been popping up across the Midwest to fill that need. Some of them offer a more traditional camping experience — think rustic cabins, fishing lessons, and, yes, maybe a toad in your shower — while others focus on “glamping,” or glamorous camping, with creature comforts like fancy linens, AC, and gourmet grub.

Whatever the luxury level, every camp offers the chance for adults to reconnect with nature — and themselves. “A guiding force behind the design of The Fields is authenticity, which is what I think people are craving most these days,” says Irene Wood, who opened her South Haven glamping resort in 2019. “We’re hoping that when guests stay with us, they feel as though they’re experiencing a different slice of life — one dripping with nostalgia, simplicity, and a deeper connection with the natural world.”Ready to pack your duffel bag? Check out these spots, all within about a six-hour drive from Detroit. (Just a note: None of them are age-restricted, so kids are welcome.)

The Fields of Michigan

South Haven

The Fields of Michigan

Sleep in style — and a king-size bed — at The Fields

Set on a working blueberry farm, The Fields is the epitome of glamping: Each of the 19 canvas tents scattered across the 30-acre property has a king-size bed, a complete bathroom, and electricity, including AC. This summer marks the debut of Treehouse Spa, which is housed in a modern cabin and offers massage services and aromatherapy treatments. Another new addition: an onsite bar that serves smoothies in the morning and after-dinner cocktails.

Paddler’s Village Campground

Munising

Paddler's Village Campground

Planning a stay at Paddler’s Village? It’s recommended you bring three things: a sleeping bag, your own cookware, and a taste for adventure. Located on Lake Superior in the U.P., this campground operated by Paddling Michigan, canoe-and-kayaking company, is a great home base for taking in all the area’s attractions, from the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (see it via kayak) to cascading waterfalls, including the 140-foot-tall Bridal Veil Falls. Back at camp, cozy up to the fire while marveling at some of the best stargazing in Michigan, then rest your head in one of the 40 yurts, cabins, or safari tents available for rent.

Camp Wandawega

Elkhorn, Wis.

Camp Wandawega

The treehouse at Camp Wandawega

Camp Wandawega in southern Wisconsin is about as idyllic as they come: Picture rustic cabins in the woods, a dreamy two-story treehouse, and beautiful lake views. (It wasn’t always so quaint — established in 1925 as a speakeasy, the camp has a rich history of organized crime, prostitution, and gambling.) Now owned by a Chicago couple, Wandawega offers the ultimate camp experience, with counselor-led activities including archery, nature hikes, macramé lessons, and fishing. There’s also a culinary program that delivers regional meats, cheeses, and snacks right to your cabin door. Pro tip: Before booking, read the Manifesto of Low Expectations on the camp’s website, a brutally honest guide to what to expect when camping in the Wisconsin wilderness.

Camp Kettlewood

East Troy, Wis.

Camp Kettlewood

Catch gorgeous sunsets at one of several lakes near Camp Kettlewood

Soak in all the outdoor activities in the woods and waters around Camp Kettlewood, located about 35 minutes southwest of Milwaukee. This newly renovated camp is close to nature preserves, parks, and trails to bike or hike, plus lots of lakes where you can boat, fish, kayak, and swim. Each Kettlewood campsite sits on one to two acres, and the camp offers a variety of accommodations, from cozy, retro-style campers to a vintage Airstream to a “group glampsite,” complete with private platform tents, plush beds, and mosquito netting.

Camp Aramoni

Tonica, ILL.

Camp Aramoni Chris Fourie-Lipman

The safari-style tents at Camp Aramoni include private bathrooms and luxury linens

Open to campers as of August 1, Camp Aramoni, located about 100 miles southwest of Chicago, offers a luxury camping experience and a step back in time. Once home to an 1870s brickyard, the 96-acre property still boasts some of its original structures (now restored) alongside modern amenities like a coffee bar, chef-prepared lunches, cocktail kits, and safari-style tents with private bathrooms, AC, and swanky linens. Fuel up on breakfast and snacks at The Barn before heading out for a day of hiking, fishing, swimming or biking (complimentary bikes are available).

Camp Woodbury

Dexter

Camp Woodbury

The main lodge at Camp Woodbury

Located just 15 minutes from downtown Ann Arbor, Camp Woodbury is the perfect weekend escape. Formerly a Detroit YWCA camp, the 150-acre property offers five of the original, 1930s-era cabins for rent — they’re renovated with air-conditioning and running water — plus a 3,000-square-foot main lodge and designated campsites for RV and tent camping. (Camp Woodbury is also an event venue specializing in weddings, family reunions and more, which means you can rent the entire place for yourself.) Enjoy a variety of watersports, including fishing, canoeing and swimming, on nearby Nordman Lake, or hit one of the area’s nature trails for some peace and quiet.

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