Along with about 60 co-ed adults ready for a grown-ups-only experience, I stole away in late April from the city’s hustle and headed to Camp Colman (on the Key Peninsula, not too far from Olympia) for three days and nights of wilderness, respite and self-improvement with Souldust, an organization that offers adult camps, workshops and retreats.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from an "adult" summer camp, which are gaining popularity in Washington and beyond. Would I like the activities and, more importantly, the people I was stuck with for the weekend? Even scarier, would they like me?
The first night’s icebreakers—dancing and creating secret handshakes with strangers—left me feeling all kinds of awkward, but I held out. By day two, we all began to unwind as we forest-bathed—that’s mindful hiking, and yes, you’re fully clothed—and roasted s’mores. In the glow of the campfire, the Seattle Freeze began to melt away. The intimate spirit of the camp was palpable, and by day three, I was gulping the Kool-Aid. There was indeed magic in the woods!
Strangers excitedly greeted each other with Labrador levels of blissful abandon as we reveled in shared vulnerabilities and the emotional strength we witnessed in one another—especially after taking the (optional!) polar bear dip in the lake via a red plastic water slide. During the trip’s closing campfire, attendees of different generations (from 19-year-olds to boomers) shared their talents and stories of transformation. We laughed, we cried, we had an impromptu dance party.
If you’re thinking “that sounds a little too ‘woo’ for me,” I’ll be honest: It is a little woo. It can get a lot of woo if you want it to (the astrology and crystal bowl singing workshops, for instance, which I heard were incredible). But the great thing about grown-up summer camp is that you’re, you know, a grown-up. It’s up to you to decide how to spend your time (archery, kayaking and a climbing wall were available, but I opted for mindfulness, Zen and intimacy-based workshops).
If you’re willing to wander a little outside your comfort zone, Camp Souldust is a profoundly inspiring and supportive place to get your inner peace and community connection on.
Check out our guide to more Washington adult summer camps here.