Fun for Grown-ups: Camp No Counselors

By Jane Whitttington on April 17th, 2017 / Comments

Remember summer camp? Sitting around the fire, roasting marshmallows for s’mores, telling stories, and singing songs. Swimming in the lake, hiking through the woods, gazing at the stars. Crafts, games, new friends. Now it’s possible for grown-ups to reexperience those days gone by—with one important exception. No counselors! This happy childhood experience is now available for adults and is called Camp No Counselors, coming to a campsite near you this summer!

In only four years, Adam Tichauer, the founder of Camp No Counselors, has seen his audacious start-up grow from one employee-himself-to 50 during peak camping season. It started in one location and has grown to 16, 13 in the United States and three in Canada. This year, there will be two in Michigan, one near Newaygo and one a couple of hours from Chicago.

Tichauer says, “In 2013, I was living in New York City and planned a fun weekend in upstate New York for friends. One thing led to another, and by the time the weekend rolled around, 90 people had decided to join in! At the time, I was working in a music tech business I had started, but the idea of planning camps like the one my friends and I had enjoyed was intriguing. In May of 2014, I started Camp No Counselors, and the business has flourished since then.”

He continues, “We had four camps in the first year. The first was a winter camp in Killington, Vermont, which was attended by 125 people. Although that one was a success, we decided to concentrate on summer camps, like the ones we attended as kids.”

Typically, the camp runs three and a half days. Campers are transported by bus to the location, which is not disclosed ahead of time. Camp No Counselors finds sites that are fully-equipped as camps, with cabins, dining halls, activity centers, sports facilities and everything that makes camping fun.  Since these are locations for kids’ summer camps, Camp No Counselors concentrates its efforts on May/June and August/September/October. Each camp is limited to 200 campers with about 10-12 staff (who are not counselors!).

Tichauer says, “Since the infrastructure of the camp is already there, we don’t have to reinvent any of that; we are able to use the existing facilities. The cooks we use are the camp cooks, but we give them the opportunity to go beyond cooking for kids. The meals we serve are made from fresh, local ingredients, and the cooks are happy to have the opportunity to be creative and come up with great meals.”

He continues, “In fact, the two most important things we look for are clean and comfortable accommodations and good food. No boiled hot dogs or lumpy oatmeal for our campers! Besides the good food, there are mimosas for breakfast, wine with dinner, and other adult beverages available.”

All the activities remembered from childhood summers are at Camp No Counselors, and campers can sign up for arts and crafts, swimming and waterskiing, archery and a variety of other interests. And if sitting on the beach reading sounds better, campers can sign up for nothing at all.

Tichauer says that the age range is generally 25-35 with the average age of his campers at 30. About 55 percent are women and about half are in relationships. Many campers sign up with friends or significant others while some come on their own.

Tichauer says, “One of the best things about camp when I was a kid was meeting new people and making new friends. That’s one of our goals at Camp No Counselors too.”

He continues, “Our camps are like the ones we knew growing up, but there is a lot more freedom and a more laidback atmosphere. We’ve been lucky that we haven’t had to do a lot of marketing—many campers join us because they have heard from others how much fun it is. We’re very active on social media, and we’ve also had good press coverage, like in Rolling Stone and on CNN.”

The Michigan camp near Newaygo is over the June 22nd weekend. The Chicago group, who will be camping in Michigan, is over Labor Day weekend. Both are filling fast, so if the interest is there, check out their website at www.campnocounselors.com

About the Author

Jane Whitttington

Jane Whitttington

Jane Whitttington is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Grand Rapids. A Michigan native and Michigan State University grad, she enjoys reading, travel, politics and volunteering.