Last week and his dog Scout spent a couple days at one such camp in upstate New York- for this inside look at the people and pets behind the movement.
David Kralstein and Janice Costa run the Canine Club Getaway. "You've got a whole changing demographic. The dog is becoming much more a part of the family," Costa said. "We want to enjoy time with our dog. That's what we enjoy doing and when we go places we want our dog to be part of that."
Costa said her clients are people who see no reason to leave their dogs even for lunch - people tired of being told no by the vacation industry.
"Every time I go someplace I'm always treated like a second class citizen. What am I doing wrong, I got a dog. Is that a sin to have a dog?"" asked Rocky Caforio, who brought his Shiatsu from Brooklyn. "So when I heard about this place, and we can have fun together, and I can enjoy her and she enjoys me then I decided that's what I want to do."
"It's the most fun you can have with your clothes on," said Lynn Kiaer.
Like most dog camps, this one offers a full slate of activities - most of which did not initially appeal to Hartman and Scout - like chase the plastic bags on a wire (she saw no point in it), barely tolerated barks and crafts, and flat-out refused swimming lessons.
"I don't speak dog but I think he's saying this camp sucks," Hartman said.
Tara Munnely said that the camp is for her Border Collie Haley, but also for her.
"It builds the bond of the relationship. You have 10 to 15 years with this glorious creature so doing things to give her the best life I could, that's important to me," Munnelly said.
Scout warmed up to the place - even ended up chasing those bags for a minute or two. But like any camp, it was more the unstructured activities that she enjoyed most: the being with nature and scaring the pants off it, the being with a good friend and bonding over shared experience. That's what summer camp is all about - that and the ice cream, of course.