Adult summer camps offer seniors the chance for mental, social engagement

There's no denying that senior living is different now than it was in generations past. Older adults place a greater emphasis on staying mentally, physically and socially engaged - something that has manifested itself in a number of different ways. Among the most innovative is the advent of summer camps geared toward a more mature crowd. These excursions not only help seniors indulge their hobbies, they also let them enjoy the benefits of continuing education, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Industry analysts from the American Camp Association say that an estimated 1 million adults went to some kind of camp last summer, and the offerings run the gamut from wining and dining to playing sports. But whatever option older campers choose, experts say there are considerable advantages that make these unique retirement activities stand out from the rest.

"It appeals to the inner child in all of us," Nancy Diamond, a marketing consultant, told the WSJ. "These programs remind us of summer camp. We participate in activities, develop new skills, and cultivate new friendships."

Among the most popular summer camps for older adults is the WoodenBoat School in Brooklin, Maine. Launched by WoodenBoat magazine more than three decades ago, the facility gives seniors the chance to do everything from building canoes from scratch to honing their photography skills in the bucolic Maine wilderness.

Regardless of whether seniors head to camps or try other activities, the healthy aging benefits of mental and social engagement are clear. A recent report released by Statistics Canada found that close relationships and involvement in social circles are closely tied to improvements in areas such as self-perceived health and loneliness, according to CBC News.