A few weeks ago, I was invited by uber-cool blogger, Kelley Louise of The Culture Collective, to be participate in the inaugural weekend of Camp Shock Top, an adult summer camp in partnership with Camp No Counselors and California brewery, Shock Top, with the simple motto of “living life unfiltered” while retreating back to childhood shenanigans with a host of strangers in the heart of The Adirondack Mountains. Here are notes from this nostalgic, pop-culture laden trip w/ a boozy twist…
Summer’s here and the official adult in me envies every kid that easily yelled, “School’s out!” and cast all responsibilities aside until the fall. Instead, with 100+ emails sitting in my inbox queue, I’m contemplating the meaning of life while trying to devise an ultimate life hack that will bring back the glory days of being a kid with the added benefits of not being told what to do.
Luckily, in comes Camp Shock Top, the latest adult summer camp collaboration with Camp No Counselors that’s aimed at bringing back that old loving feeling of momentarily retreating from #adultproblems in order to reconnect with your inner child in a judgement free-flowing picturesque open bar. Sold.
When I initially told my friends and colleagues that I was attending an adult summer camp sponsored by a brewery, the first thought that popped into their minds was adult entertainment of another sort. I assured them I wouldn’t be hanging out with Ron Jeremy, but rather getting my Rob Base on the dance floor, as I was particularly excited by the idea of one of the 90s themed parties during the three-day weekend. They immediately wanted evidence of how legit this throwback to yesteryear would be, and as soon as I boarded the bus to head upstate with Goonies on deck, I was able to silence the dissonance.
Outside of a fun, nostalgic trip that was perfectly packaged via the instant icebreaker music trivia games and a general overall atmosphere of a Real World meets Wet Wild American Summer, I couldn’t anticipate what tangible values I would be taking away from this experience other than perfectly timed hangovers. With the unknown mix of strangers in an unplugged, alternate reality and given the elements of beer culture, this could have easily turned into the bro frat boy experience I evaded as a teen.
To my surprise, by retracing steps from my childhood summer camp days in an unadulterated manner, I refreshed a few cliché life lessons that have found their way as winking reminders through my day-to-day grind:
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A PRODUCT OF YOUR ENVIRONMENT
Clearly when I woke up like this, it was not to Beyoncé, but to my repurposed prison sheets in my cabin. Naturally, this was a literal sign of how easy it can be to turn a negative into a positive situation and that obviously the best rules are meant to be broken. Shout out to L.A. County 1994!
TEAM WORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK
Prior to heading to camp and just like the tight rules of Fight Club, my topline rule regarding willingly singing in public was that I NEVER willingly sing in public. However, when my team (aka Team Golden Showers) needed to clutch a boost in color wars, I laced up my chucks, got in touch with my inner Drake and completely forged my way through a slap-stick rendition of Truffle Butter – with a fanny pack on, no less. If that isn’t taking one for the team, I don’t know what is! My compadres and I were able to help our team inch closer to victory in the third round and we all rediscovered our love of improv and the importance of keeping an open mind under the most unusual circumstances. Never say never!
EVERYONE HAS A TALENT…EVEN IF IT’S EATING A BOWL OF CEREAL
When you’re constantly moving along the wheel of a stressful routine workweek, it’s very easy to disconnect from your passions. When there’s time to dabble in various activities with no pressure and figure out what you enjoy doing on a basic level, there’s an inherit sense of joy that comes over you — whether it comes from inhaling a bowl of Lucky Charms during a competition or being able to hold your own in a 30 person game of flip cup. Celebrate your tiny victories!
WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS, MAKE LEMONADE
I had no idea having a couple of lemon shandys with new friends would aid with combating the water crisis in California and yes, this is a sober citing! Sustainability may not be an immediate term you’d equate with beer given the possibilities of hangovers and bad decisions, however, a little known fact I learned about Shock Top is that the company’s made the most of its locally-sourced lemons by becoming an innovator in water conservation. Shock Top operates two of the most water-efficient breweries in California and they have been on the forefront of helping raise awareness and uncover solutions to help reduce water consumption across the state via campaigns like “Shock the Drought.” Appearances can be deceiving… just as Wedgehead being a dead ringer of Guy Fieri.
WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER
….Said NO ONE after the epic slip ‘n flip challenge at color wars, but we did learn an important lesson in resilience by bouncing back to dance off our battle wounds at the Olympics themed after-party!
CHERISH YOUR MEMORIES LIKE TUPAC’S HOLOGRAM
Our memories are just as alive as the new experiences we take on each day. Sometimes it pays to look back and reflect on key moments that influenced who we are for better and for worse (ever listening to Crazy Town). Perspective, mixtapes and friendship bracelets are all elements that make life much fuller.
YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE
Life is too short to hold any regrets including partaking in midnight cuddle puddles, waking up the next morning underneath the flag pole with no idea how you got there in the first place to publicly admitting to hating The Wire. It’s important to take a load off, not take yourself too seriously, unplug ever so often (preferably by a lakefront), and remember that being grown up doesn’t mean losing your sense of wonder.
Photography: Andrew Lipvsky excluding polaroids