This summer camp for grown-ups proves you’re never too old to go back

Photo courtesy of CNC

At Camp No Counselors, you’re never too old for a colour rush.

Adam Tichauer lives in Hollywood. He graduated from Rhode Island’s Brown University. He finished his hockey career playing in Pensacola, Florida, and Columbia, South Carolina. But while he lives in a zip code, not a postal code, and spends his days in a Southern Californian climate, Tichauer will always be a Canadian kid from Toronto. And in more than a few ways, that’s what has led to his great breakthrough: Camp No Counselors, a sleep-away camp for grownups.

How often have you reminisced about those nights under the stars at your childhood camp? How often do you wish you could go back to those days? With Camp No Counselors, Tichauer realized that days gone by can come again. And this time, they’ll have beer.

A camp kid himself, Tichauer spent his entire summers in sports day camps, volleying from soccer to hockey to baseball. He spent weeks at Tamakwa Camp, in Algonquin Park. He’s in his 30s now, but he still speaks of those days with reverence.

“It was your first time away from mom and dad, as well as an amazing way to make friends. Those are still some of my lifelong friends,” he tells me over the phone.

“As 30-somethings living in big cities, it’s difficult to make genuine friendships,” he adds. “Everyone is out there networking, and trying to get ahead in their careers; you put your own new friendships on the back burner.”

Camp No Counselors aims to do the opposite.

While he reiterates that it’s mostly a camp without rules, Tichaer does say that he does have two “hard asks” for attendees:

    1. 1. Put your phone away.
    1. 2. Don’t start conversations by asking “what do you do for a living?”

“We find that when you take away people’s work identity, they can be whoever they want to be, they can be their truest self,” says Tichauer. The results, he says, are campers that come back yearly, sometimes several times a summer, and always with new friends; it’s newly forged, lifelong friendships. In some cases, it’s courting, coupling, and even marriage.

And as of last summer, it’s finally made its way to Canada.

Somewhere between turning down basketball billionaire Mark Cuban on Shark Tank and now, Camp No Counselors has expanded into more than 30 camps across North America and, at long last, that list includes camps in Calgary (this past Canada Day long weekend) and Toronto (this coming September).

“Right after doing the first one, I always wanted to bring it back home,” says Tichauer. “I know that Canadians love the outdoors, especially in the summer. They go up north, forget about the stresses of work. It’s truly part of the culture.”

So, what can you expect at Camp No Counselors? A mix of classic camp games, colour rushes, action sports and a surprisingly vibrant bit of nightlife. “The majority of the camp is wakeboarding, water skiing, archery, zip lining, arts and crafts, all of those fun summer camp games that you played growing up. And in the evening, we have our open bar.”

From that, you might have guessed the obvious — while its campers do range in age all the way into their 50s, generally speaking, Camp No Counsellors is filled with adults aged 25-35. For now, at least.

“We want to continue to get into different demographics,” Tichauer explains when asked what’s next for the camp. “It’d be really cool to do a 50+ camp, so some people who are actually adults can go,” he jokes.

He sees future camps focused around yoga and crossfit. He sees an expansion of the LGBTQ and Friends camp, which currently happens once a year in Los Angeles.

“I always loved doing this, just for fun — organizing events, bringing people together — but I never thought that this could be my career until I organized the first event for a fun weekend getaway with my friends,” says Tichauer. “People were really moved by the weekend, they had the time of their lives. It felt really good to create that style of event, bringing together a whole bunch of people. I never thought that this could be a business, but once people spread the word to their friends, and friends of friends, it naturally came together that, ‘maybe there is a longing for a summer camp for grownups.’”

We know what you’re thinking: “If only I’d thought of that first.”

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