Did you ever go to summer camp as a kid?
Remember the canoeing, the hiking, the swimming and, of course, sitting around a campfire cooking s’mores while listening to scary stories about ghosts with hooks for hands?
How would you like to go back but without all the teenage angst, pimples or voice that cracks every time you speak?
Well, there’s something for you aging camping hopefuls — Baby Boomer Adventure & Retreat Camp at Camp Ocoee. It’s modeled after the camps many attended as kids but is designed for people over 40 — and with a full understanding of the creature comforts people in the age group expect.
While cooking s’mores is definitely on the agenda for both nights of the camp, there is also a wine and cheese tasting planned on the final night. Meals will be hot, and the cabins will be cold, with beds.
“We are not grilling hot dogs, and who doesn’t love a hot dog, but we want it to feel like a camp, but we understand the demographic,” says Adam Cogbill, program coordinator of Y-Outside, which oversees Camp Ocoee. “The entree on Saturday night will be salmon.”
The idea for a baby boomer camp came about when Joy Krause, founder of Boomers Together was looking for ways to engage the demographic. She began talking with Bill Rush, executive director of YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga, who was looking for ways to more broadly utilize the facilities at Camp Ocoee, as well as more ways to engage a different demographic.
Boomers Together is a new organization designed to help people over 50 deal with the things life throws at older people such as the death of a spouse, divorce or finding ways to meet new people, Krause says.
With that in mind, the Baby Boomer camp is open to adults of any abilities, Krause says, and attendees are asked to participate only in the events they want to. It is not a get-fit or test-your-physical-abilities camp, she adds, but activities will include guided morning hikes, ziplines, archery, games and karaoke, campfire storytelling and water activities such as canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and swimming.
“It’s about nostalgia, fun and excitement and about forging new relationships,” Krause says.
Campers will stay in Camp Ocoee’s Wasson Lodge, which features seven bedrooms that sleep three to five people each and have private bathrooms. The bedrooms are gender specific so, if you plan to attend with your spouse, you might have to sneak out at night for a moonlit rendezvous by the lake.
Both Krause and Cogbill laugh at the idea of camp counselors standing guard outside the rooms to prevent such tomfoolery.
“There will be plenty of time to be together during the day,” Cogbill says.
Krause says she’s been pleased by the reaction of people when she explains what the camp will entail.
“I was speaking to a group the other day and I asked how many had ever done a cannonball off the end of a dock,” Krause says. “Every hand went up. That’s what we are offering. The chance to do that again.”
Contact Barry Courter at email@example.com or 423-757-6354.
› What: Baby Boomer Adventure & Retreat Camp
› When: Friday-Sunday, Aug. 19-21
› Where: Camp Ocoee, 111 YMCA Drive, Ocoee, Tenn.
› Admission: $275 by today, $325 July 30-Aug. 5, $375 by Aug. 12
› Online: boomerstogether/com/ymca- adventure-retreat-weekend
› Phone: 423-902-3599