The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

New IC bar brings in the outdoors with camping-themed drinks, decor

CAMP offers things like their specialty s’mores shots and camp burger.
Madison Frette
Camp Bar, a new bar in Iowa City, is seen on Tuesday Oct. 17, 2023.

A newly-renovated, camp-themed bar called CAMP opened in Iowa City two weeks ago, bringing the outdoors inside. 

Upon entering, guests are met with outdoorsy decor and dimmed lighting for a relaxed vibe. The wood-paneled walls are adorned with old-timey photographs and shelves of camping coolers, all once used by real families. In the back sits an oversized orange lawn chair that guests are encouraged to take photos in. 

The bar, located on 217 Iowa Ave. in the alleyway between George’s Best Gyros and another upcoming restaurant to the city’s downtown district, opened Oct. 13. 

The bar has a multitude of old-school beers on draft, including Rolling Rock, Montauk, Grain Belt, Miller High Life, Old Milwaukee High Life, and Hamm’s. Currently, the kegged cocktails have been the most popular. 

On top of draft beers and cocktails, the bar offers specialty s’mores shots and its signature camp water that is served in a fishbowl. CAMP also has a different twist on an old favorite, the bourbon old-fashioned, to which it substitutes bourbon for brandy to create a sweeter-tasting classic. 

RELATED: Harry’s Bar and Grill brings retro spin to Iowa City

The kitchen is open until midnight and serves easy-to-share finger foods. The signature camp burger and loaded waffle fries both come with the bar’s “secret scout” sauce. 

“This is something that is unlike anything else in downtown Iowa City, so that was kind of the inspiration for it,” Nick Carroll, one of the owners, said. 

Carroll envisioned a camp-themed bar for years while working as a regional manager for several Johnson County bars, and eventually branched out to make his dream a reality. 

“When Nick said he had this vision, I was happy to be able to jump on board,” Rachel Eisenmann, general manager at CAMP, said.

Originally from the superior Wisconsin area, Eisenmann grew up in Midwest dive bars and was a camp director for six years.

“It just was a very natural fit for me,” Eisenmann said. “I think one of my favorite parts is watching people walk in and they instantly feel comfortable.”

Eisenmann described the feeling as being at home and being a part of the crew at a camp, reminiscent of a summer camp.

“One of the typical things about summer camp is when you hear that, ‘Oh, you make lifelong friends at camp,’” Eisenmann said. “But we’re actually seeing that happen at the CAMP bar as well, and it’s been really cool to see people build new connections and just be able to enjoy themselves.”

CAMP isn’t the only bar Carroll is opening up in Iowa City. In the adjoining building, Carroll is renovating a new pizza bar named Scout’s Honor next to CAMP that will be open until 2 a.m. 

“‘Pizza by day, party by night’ is going to be the slogan,” Carroll said. 

Carroll said the bar is going to be a little more low-key and pizza-oriented but will offer various frozen drinks and craft cocktails. Scout’s is still under construction, and the establishment is looking to open on Nov. 7. 

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About the Contributors
Olivia Gamertsfelder, News Reporter
Olivia is a freshman student from Washington D.C. double majoring in creative writing and journalism. She is a news reporter for the Daily Iowan. Prior to this, she directed her school's literary magazine and completed two theses (please ask her about them as she is very passionate).
Madison Frette, Photojournalist
Madison Frette is a second-year student at The University of Iowa double majoring in Business Analytics and Information Systems and Cinematic Arts. This is her first year working as a photojournalist for The Daily Iowan.