Unplug and Be a Kid Again at Camp for Adults

Whether it beeps, vibrates or quacks, if you’re like most adults the sound of your mobile devices tends to have even the most mindful of us scrambling for our pockets or purses.

A camp taking place this weekend will take participating adults back to a simpler time, untethered by electronics.

Camp Kitigin (get it?) will take place at the YMCA’s Camp Timbers in West Branch Sept. 18 through 20. Adults 21 and older are invited to ditch their smartphones, tablets and laptops and replace them with campfires, stargazing, and old-school summer camp activities such as archery, fishing and swimming.

Campers taking part in stand-up paddleboarding lessons at last year's Camp Kitigin.
Campers taking part in stand-up paddleboarding lessons at last year’s Camp Kitigin.

“Pretty much anything you do at camp as a kid … they get to do all that kind of stuff, said Stephanie Wirtz, Recreation Programmer for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR and mParks, the Michigan Recreation & Park Association, are partnering with Camp Timbers to put on the second annual camp.

Kristin Stempky, Operations Coordinator for mParks, said campers should come with an open mind about their weekend experience, ready to step out of their comfort zone.

“I think that adults have a really hard time letting things go,” she said.

Both Wirtz and Stempky say unplugging from smartphones and other devices is a great way for campers to get to know each other and build camaraderie. Many of last year’s campers wanted to stay in touch after spending a weekend bunking together at Camp Timbers’ cabins.

“It makes people talk to each other,” Stempky said.

Camp Kitigin campers unite!
Camp Kitigin campers unite!

Wirtz specifically remembers a business owner who attended the camp from Chicago. He’d told his family and friends he’d talk to them after the weekend and really stuck to the technology-free aspect as a way to clear his head and reconnect with nature. He was so enamored of the experience that he had hoped to send some of his employees this year.

“I think a lot of people like the idea of getting away from it all,” Wirtz said.

If you’re wondering how your friends will know you were at camp if you don’t have the selfie to prove it, organizers have you covered. The official Camp Kitigin participant pack includes a journal and pen and a disposable camera.

Unlike summer camps from your youth, Camp Kitigin does allow participants to bring along an alcoholic beverage of choice, although Stempky said campers should keep their consumption within reason. A promotional website for the camp cheekily points out that “campers will be separated into girls and boys cabins – but don’t worry, we encourage late-night shenanigans, that’s what summer camp is all about!”

Last year, there was a wide age range of participants, with organizers estimating a median age of around 40. Camp activities are structured, but campers are definitely free to pass on activities and do as they please, filling their time the way that is most relaxing to them.

If you want to feel like a kid again this weekend, there’s still time to register for this fun, all-inclusive experience, which includes lodging, meals, activities, crafts and more! To take part in Camp Kitigin, call (517) 485-9888 and ask for Stempky. Campers will check in on Friday from 4 to 10 p.m. and check out on Sunday. Cost is $200 per participant.

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Photos courtesy of Kristin Stempky


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  1. What a great idea! Wish I had learned about it earlier as my weekend is already spoken for. Will check on this for 2017, though.

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