Cameron McCoy is a 41-year-old higher-education worker who recently decided he needed a break.

"We really live in work-life integration," he told Upworthy. "There's no such thing as balance anymore."

So he decided to do something that might sound a little unusual: He went to adult summer camp.


Photo via Camp No Counselors, used with permission.

A million people in the U.S. go to adult summer camps every year, putting down their cellphones and turning to archery, water sports, and, depending on which camp they attend, a few cocktails to rediscover a world of few responsibilities.

"[Adult summer camp] was an opportunity to not have any technology with me," Cameron explained. "To not be concerned about time. Really, just to get more centered and to spend some time with other people going through the same situation."

Here are 19 reasons why summer camp for grown-ups totally rocks:

1. The first rule of summer camp: There will be dance parties.

Photo via Camp Grounded, used with permission.

2. And there's no age limit! Because you're never too old for a limbo competition.


Photo via Camp Grounded, used with permission.

3. You can go alone or with friends. It's all good.

Photo via Soul Camp, used with permission.

4. A lot of camps are strictly phones down. Or, at the very least, they have terrible service.

Photo via Camp Grounded, used with permission.

5. That's just part of what makes them so great.

"It's a disconnection from work and our phones and technology. It forces people to get out of their comfort zones," Adam Tichauer, founder of Camp No Counselors, told Upworthy. "When you see people in line for the bathroom, they're actually talking to each other."

Photo via Camp No Counselors, used with permission.

6. The science backs it up: Going away to camp is probably a really good thing for your mental health.

Researchers at Kansas State University found that having strict nonworking time or "psychological detachment" can be just the thing we need to keep from burning out. At a resort with great cell service and free Wi-Fi, the temptation to "just check in" can be pretty strong. At adult summer camp, most campers leave their phones in their bunk (if they're allowed to even use it at all).

And when you're finally ready to get back to the grind? You'll probably be a little more productive after unplugging for a few days.

Photo via Camp No Counselors, used with permission.

7. For Paige, a 29-year-old from L.A. (who is usually a total beach-bum), camp was a chance to relive one of her favorite childhood memories.

She went to sleepaway camp pretty much every year as a kid and thinks the grown-up version is just as good.

"I met this one girl [at adult summer camp], and we just started walking around to all the different bunks, because that's what you did as a kid," she said. "But all the bunks were empty. Everyone was out doing stuff. That was awesome to see."

Paige, Slip 'N Slide champ. Photo used with permission.

8. Other campers, like 37-year-old Jennifer, are making up for lost time.

Jennifer and her new friends at Camp No Counselors. She's the one holding the flag! Photo used with permission.

"I had never been to summer camp as a kid. I had never even heard of capture the flag before. Now I love capture the flag, and I'm actually good at it!" she said, adding that she likes adult summer camp because it's hard to make friends as an adult.

At adult summer camp, however, she says, "That's kind of the point of going."

She's been twice now and is ready to go back next summer.

9. Some camps have booze on hand to help folks relax, but there are plenty of options out there for all different kinds of campers.

Photo via Soul Camp, used with permission.

10. Most camps have dance-offs, lip-sync battles, talent shows, and other camper-led performances (if you're bold enough to join in).

Photo via Soul Camp, used with permission.

11. But one of the biggest draws is that these camps are a rare chance to really connect with total strangers.


Photo via Camp Grounded, used with permission.

12. Seriously — with total strangers! Holding hands! You won't find connections like these at an all-inclusive resort.

Photo via Soul Camp, used with permission.

13. Who you are and what you do for a living don't matter at adult summer camp. The fact that hardly anyone knows each other is kind of the point, according to camper Shelby Walsh.

Most of the year, Walsh is the very-important vice president of an online trend community. But for a few days, in the summer, at least, she was just Shelby.

"You're not allowed to talk about what you do," Walsh told Upworthy. She says there were a lot of young professionals there, but tubing, archery, and arts and crafts took priority over networking.

And perhaps most importantly? "I would definitely do it again."

Shelby (middle), on '70s theme party night. Photo used with permission.

14. At some camps, attendees are asked to take nicknames.

"It's part of letting your real life go," McCoy says, though he was skeptical of the request at first.

"Some people felt more comfortable that way. It wasn't about status or class or where you came from after that. Some people, you never even knew their real name."

Photo via Camp Grounded, used with permission.

15. Who wouldn't want to take a break from work to do this?


Photo via Camp Grounded, used with permission.

(I don't know what it is, but it looks fun).

16. Think about it — when was the last time you did arts and crafts (without your kids totally taking over)?

Photo via Camp Grounded, used with permission.

17. Of course, it wouldn't be summer camp without magnificent campfires.

Photo via Soul Camp, used with permission.

18. Like all things, though, camp has to end eventually. Going back to the real world is no fun.

"I wasn't in a hurry to get back. I wasn't eager to pick up my phone again," McCoy said. "But I was a lot more relaxed about my life when I left than when I got there."

Photo via Camp Grounded, used with permission.

19. The best part? Grown-up summer camp is a pretty affordable way to unwind.

Most camps run a couple hundred bucks for three days of lodging, food, and drinks; though your travel to and from the camp isn't covered.

And not only that, but the costs are totally fixed. Tichauer says a lot of the folks who sign up for Camp No Counselors do so because "it’s a simple turnkey weekend. You pay your money, you show up, and we have everything planned. Lodging, meals, activities, the potential for future friends. Everything."

Photo via Camp Grounded used with permission.

So there you have it. Adult summer camp is great! But it's certainly not the only way to disconnect with adult responsibilities and feel like a kid again.

You don't have to zoom down a Slip 'N Slide or wipe out on a wakeboard if that's not your thing. Camp is about making new friends, unplugging from technology, and trying new things.

With a little effort, we could all make a little more room for those things in our busy lives.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

Freya from Maya Higa's YouTube video.

Ever wonder what an ideal date for a lemur would be? Or a lizard’s favorite Disney princess?

Thanks to one YouTube poster with a passion for animals and an endearing sense of humor, all questions shall be answered. Well, maybe not all questions. But at the very least, you’ll have eight minutes of insanely cute footage.

In a series titled “Tiny Mic Interviews,” Maya Higa approaches little beasties with a microphone so small she has to hold it with just her thumb and forefinger. And yes, 99% of the animals try to eat it.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

Cellist Cremaine Booker's performance of Faure's "Pavane" is as impressive as it is beautiful.

Music might be the closest thing the world has to real magic. Music has the ability to transform any atmosphere in seconds, simply with the sounds of a few notes. It can be simple—one instrument playing single notes like raindrops—or a complex symphony of melodies and harmonies, swirling and crashing like waves from dozens of instruments. Certain rhythms can make us spontaneously dance and certain chord progressions can make us cry.

Music is an art, a science, a language and a decidedly human endeavor. People have made music throughout history, in every culture on every continent. Over time, people have perfected the crafting of instruments and passed along the knowledge of how to play them, so every time we see someone playing music, we're seeing the history of humanity culminated in their craft. It's truly an amazing thing.

The pandemic threw a wrench into seeing live musicians for a good chunk of time, and even now, live performances are limited. Thankfully, we have technology that makes it easier for musicians to collaborate and perform with one another virtually—and also makes it easier for people to create "group" performances all by themselves.

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A round-up of delights from around the internet this week.

Hey all!

Welcome to Upworthy's weekly roundup of delights from around the internet. This week's list features a little of everything—gorgeous music, cute kids, adorable animals, hope for the planet and a brand new video message from the late and great Betty White.

That's right, Betty White left us a message of gratitude shortly before her passing. It's brief, but how lovely to see and hear her speak to her millions of fans one last time. Few celebrities are as universally beloved as Betty White was, and though we knew she couldn't live forever, it would have been fun to see her celebrate her 100th birthday. Now, at least, we get to experience her joy and warmth with a few last words.

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