It is no secret to friends, family, and the occasional stranger that I love Groupons. Some day I need to do a little research to find out when it started; suffice it to say that I’ve been a customer for several years and really believe in the discovery and savings aspects of their collective buying service.
Over the years, Groupon has expanded beyond the Daily Deal in almost very way imaginable. Every morning I’m excited to see the “traditional” restaurant, activity or services offered, alongside gifts, Groupon Now!, and more recently travel deals. So while I wasn’t surprised to learn of Camp Groupon, I was tickled by the novel approach.
The easiest way to explain it is this: imagine a weekend camping excursion, where, instead of staying in tents you bunk up in hotel rooms (I guess you could still bring a tent) and spend the time with other campers discovering and experiencing events and activities that Groupon has become known for but with little added touches of Groupon love. Sprinkle in some camp-style metaphors, enthusiastic Camp Counselors, and you have a wonderfully unique travel experience for a very fair price.
After going through the sign up process, I had stalled on completing the purchase in order to compare calendars with my better half. As it happens, the good folks at Groupon offered a complementary package to me. I’m not a shill for them, but figured I should let you know this.
Over the course of 2 1/2 days, I and my fellow campers were treated like Chicago VIPs, taking in events and activities that were either unique to Chicago or just unique in how they were presented. Each morning started with a hearty breakfast buffet that was sure to give you a great start, followed by joining your assigned Camp Counselor to begin the festivities. For me, this included a painting class at Bar Louie, cooking demonstration and wine education at Macy’s Culinary Studio, and a behind-the-scenes tour at the Museum of Science and Industry. In between all of this were lunches at area restaurants were we would learn more about each other and share our best Groupon scores.
Oh, and did I mention Movie Night at Wrigley Field? Even as a White Sox fan, I was grinning ear-to-ear as The Blue Brothers band played, followed by a viewing of the Blues Brothers movie under the stars, with fleece blankets provided by Redbox.
But the good folks at Groupon weren’t done. Saturday we all walked to the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier for a concert by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, a fireworks interlude over Lake Michigan, then rocking out to The Counting Crows!
It would be an understatement to say that I had a fantastic time. Looking back on the photos and memorabilia I still smile, because Groupon has figured out how to take the relatively staid experience of packaged travel and made it a individualized and unique experience for all of us. While there were some bumps along the way, everyone understood we were privileged to be a part of something special, and can’t wait for the next camp destination.