Summer Camp isn’t Just for Kids Anymore

Increasingly, grownups are looking for weekend retreats focused on nature, physical activity, and community. So in 2017, a collection of adult adventure camps called The Pursuit Series was born. In 2019, the Series will head east to Brevard, N.C. for the first time.

During the three-day weekend outdoor adventure festivals, which will take place in three locations this year, including Asheville, Pursuit encourages those with a curiosity or affinity for the outdoors to try a new, different challenge, surrounded by 500 fellow outdoor adventure seekers. The base price starts around $499, which includes all activities, courses, meals, alcohol, and coffee.

Whether learning how to change a flat tire on a mountain bike, read a compass, or rock climb, the outdoors is transformed from an unknown or intimidating endeavor to a fun, conquerable experience. And the best part, according to many past attendees, along with choosing your own adventure each day, is meeting a new community of young, old, male and female.

Last year, Allison Desir, founder of Harlem Run and Run 4 All Women, attended a Pursuit Series weekend with her husband and two friends from Harlem Run. But initially, it took a lot of convincing.

“I was intrigued, but I wasn’t a very outdoors person and I didn’t see myself in that environment,” Desir says. “Despite being a runner, I’m a New Yorker. I almost didn’t go.”

However, once she and her group arrived, Desir immersed herself in trail running, a class on packing a hiking backpack, stand-up paddleboarding, and more. The variety and depth of courses helped her feel more empowered, Desir says, while also educating her. “After that experience, I was like, ‘I love this. I want to do everything outdoors,’” Desir says.

Once she returned home, Desir kept in contact with one of the yoga instructors from her Pursuit weekend. In December, Desir completed her certification to become a yoga instructor. “I wasn’t a yoga regular, and I’m still not particularly flexible,” Desir says. “But it’s that mental shift that Pursuit taught me–as I challenge myself more, my mind shifts to ‘what else can I do that I thought I couldn’t?’”

Last year, all three Pursuit Series weekends sold out. In 2019, in addition to the two western locations (Snow Basin Resort in Utah, Bear Valley in Northern California), the Pursuit Series will head to the Green River Preserve near Brevard, N.C.

“When you have these barriers that people overcome, that sense of community and connection creates this bond,” says Julia Stamps Mallon, one of the series’ founders. “You see an amazing group of incredibly diverse backgrounds coming together around the campfire each night and talking about what they did that day. And there’s something magical in that.”