Pat Rumbaugh wakes up with the sun. After all, there are only so many hours to fit in fun. If it’s Tuesday or Thursday, she’s off to tennis in Takoma Park, Md. Then it’s time to head to the pool. Some days, she goes to the playground and hits the swings. At night, she plays games with friends.
If that sounds like the typical summer day for a 13-year-old, you’d be right, but you’d also be wrong.
That’s because Rumbaugh is 56.
“I always joke about my age,” Rumbaugh says. “I say I’m 6 and I don’t count the 50.”
Affectionately dubbed The Play Lady, Rumbaugh is the co-founder of Let’s Play America, a nonprofit that helps people of all ages create playful events in their communities.
Rumbaugh’s play-filled days happen year-round. But many adults make the effort for true fun only in the summer, when they feel the pull of their roots and yearn to feel like a kid again.
“Childlike activities are often an excuse to feel good and carefree,” says Dr. Andrea Bonior, a clinical psychologist and Express’ Baggage Check columnist. “It’s permission to act like a kid — and that feels good.”
Here are a few D.C.-area spots (and one getaway) to give your inner child a play day.
This probably isn’t an activity most people tried as a kid, but it screams of carefree abandon. Trapeze School New York, located in Southeast, offers classes for ages 6 and up. Don’t let the misconception that upper body strength is a necessity deter you: According to Laura Wooster, spokeswoman for TSNY-DC and an avid flyer herself, the most important quality for a first-time flyer is the ability to listen. “We have students who are gym rats and they think it won’t be any problem at all, so they don’t pay attention to directions,” she says. “Then we’ll have a mom of three who says, ‘I don’t have core strength,’ and manages to float right into the trick.” Need a new profile pic? TSNY-DC has professional photographers on hand during classes — which last about two hours — to snap.
The over-21 crowd is no longer welcome at summer camp, but Camp No Counselors found a way around that. The adult camp rents out actual sleepaway camps for a weekend, usually in the weeks just before or after the kids arrive. The closest this camp comes to Washington is upstate New York, making this the complete sleepaway experience. The three-night getaway is all-inclusive, and traditional summer camp activities — arts and crafts, wakeboarding, capture the flag — are all on offer. At night, things get more adult. The camp brings in live bands and DJs and throws parties with an open bar. “We add different elements to the camp experience to make it more fun for adults,” founder Adam Tichauer says. Take “slip and flip,” for instance. It’s a grown-up twist on the slip and slide, in which everything is the same except for the huge flip cup table waiting at the end. “As an adult, I found that most of my friends were old college friends or work colleagues,” he says. That’s why Tichauer created the camp — to help adults cultivate friendships the old-fashioned way.
High jumps, backflips and the elusive double-bounce are a staple of many childhoods, but that doesn’t mean adults can’t get a kick out of a good leap. Rebounderz, a giant trampoline gym, has locations in Virginia’s Sterling and Manassas. “People all the time ask if it’s just for kids,” says Adriana Alegrett, the company’s regional director of marketing. “It’s really not.” If you’d prefer to bounce with fewer children around, go later in the evening: Kids clear out by 7 p.m., Alegrett says.
Whether your game of choice is Monopoly, Settlers of Catan or Candy Land, there are plenty of places to play a game. The Board Room is a staple D.C. game bar, where patrons can order a drink, grab a table and snag an available game (or BYOBG — bring your own board game). Board Room doesn’t serve food, but it does open its doors to delivery — and what’s a family-style game night without a pizza? A few restaurants, such as Flippin’ Pizza, Banana Leaves and Glen’s Garden Market, deliver to the bar for free. Other local spots feature board games on their events calendars. Check out the Woodrow Wilson House in Northwest, for instance, on Aug. 5 for its Vintage Game Night, featuring games from the 1920s.
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