19 reasons grown up summer camp is the vacation you didn't know you needed.

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.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

I'll never forget the exhilaration I felt as I headed into the city on July 3, 2018. My pink hair was styled. I wore it up in a high ponytail, though I left two tendrils down. Two tendrils which framed my face. My makeup was done. I wore shadow on my eyes and blush on my cheeks, blush which gave me color. Which brought my pale complexion to life. And my confidence grew each time my heels clacked against the concrete.

My confidence grew with each and every step.

Why? Because I was a strong woman. A city woman. A woman headed to interview for her dream job.

I nailed the interview. Before I boarded the bus back home, I had an offer letter in my inbox. I was a news writer, with a salary and benefits, but a strange thing happened 13 months later. I quit said job in an instant. On a whim. I walked down Fifth Avenue and never looked back. And while there were a few reasons why I quit that warm, summer day: I was a new(ish) mom. A second-time mom, and I missed my children. Spending an hour with them each day just wasn't enough. My daughter was struggling in school. She needed oversight. Guidance. She needed my help. And my commute was rough. I couldn't cover the exorbitant cost of childcare. The real reason I quit was because my mental health was failing.


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Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

I'll never forget the exhilaration I felt as I headed into the city on July 3, 2018. My pink hair was styled. I wore it up in a high ponytail, though I left two tendrils down. Two tendrils which framed my face. My makeup was done. I wore shadow on my eyes and blush on my cheeks, blush which gave me color. Which brought my pale complexion to life. And my confidence grew each time my heels clacked against the concrete.

My confidence grew with each and every step.

Why? Because I was a strong woman. A city woman. A woman headed to interview for her dream job.

I nailed the interview. Before I boarded the bus back home, I had an offer letter in my inbox. I was a news writer, with a salary and benefits, but a strange thing happened 13 months later. I quit said job in an instant. On a whim. I walked down Fifth Avenue and never looked back. And while there were a few reasons why I quit that warm, summer day: I was a new(ish) mom. A second-time mom, and I missed my children. Spending an hour with them each day just wasn't enough. My daughter was struggling in school. She needed oversight. Guidance. She needed my help. And my commute was rough. I couldn't cover the exorbitant cost of childcare. The real reason I quit was because my mental health was failing.


Keep Reading Show less
True

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."