Beyond Kickball: 10 Specialized Summer Camps


All a summer camp used to need to keep kids entertained throughout the warmer months was a good ball field and a place to go swimming. Now, though, campers can while away their summer days doing all sorts of specialized camping. Let's take a look at some camps that appeal to kids with very specific interests.

1. Hollywood Stunt Camp

California's Pali Overnight Adventures offers a number of camps for the show-biz hopeful, but their Hollywood Stunt Camp sounds like it would be particularly fun. Campers spend either one of two weeks working with real Hollywood stuntmen on topics like taking a high fall, simulating hand-to-hand combat, and sword fighting. (Seems like a good idea. Kids are inevitably going to sword fight, so you might as well make it safe.) The two-week program even culminates with campers taking a 32-foot fall and directing and choreographing their own stunt spectacular.

If heights and fights aren't your thing, Pali also offers a Movie Makeup Academy where campers work with Hollywood makeup artists to replicate favorite movie characters and even turn themselves into gory ghouls.

2. Nudist Camp

Since the early 1990s, the American Association for Nude Recreation has offered summer Youth Leadership Camps at various resorts around the country in order to let young people ages 11 to 18 enjoy some nude summer camp fun. While the notion of a camp full of naked teenagers may strike non-nudists as a bit strange (or completely appalling), a 2003 New York Times profile detailed how the camps were perfectly legal because the nudity wasn't of a lewd nature. (The camps go to great lengths to desexualize the nudity in an effort to combat the teens' surging hormones.) The result: camps where teens go to enjoy mundane activities like sports and arts and crafts, all while in the buff. The clothes-free policy certainly must make packing for camp easier.

3. Wizards and Warriors Camp

Finally, there's a solution for kids who don't want to leave their role-playing games for a week at camp: a camp that is one big RPG. At Charlton, MA's Wizards and Warriors Camp, campers create their own characters and then spend their days fighting together against villains and searching for treasure. The camp sounds like it integrates educational elements into the fun "“ a potions-making class provides real-world lessons on chemistry "“ all while giving children a valuable opportunity to mingle with trolls. Check out the camp's promotional video:

4. Camp XChange

Drexel University's LeBow College of Business offers an unusual opportunity for rising high school juniors and seniors to get some experience in the fast-paced world of securities trading. The weeklong Camp XChange lets students act as traders in the school's electronic trading lab and learn the intricacies of the New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, and other trading floors around the world.

5. Archaeology Camp

Have a kid who wants to become the next Indiana Jones? Send him to archaeology camp at Colorado's Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. The center's three-week Archaeology Field School gives high school students the opportunity to excavate dig sites alongside the pros and help analyze what they find. Campers also get the opportunity to try their hand at many of tasks of the Pueblo Indians they're studying, including starting a fire by hand.

6. Firefighting Camp

Think your kid might want to be a firefighter? Here's a great way to find out. Junior firefighting camps are available around the country for kids of all ages who want to learn the ins and outs of fighting and preventing fires. Some, like New Hampshire's Camp Fully Involved, are even more extremely specialized; Camp Fully Involved teaches young women ages 14 to 20 about topics like ventilation, dumpster fires, and forcible entry.

7. Young Business Camps

Young Americans Center for Financial Education in Colorado offers a variety of day camp for the (very) young aspiring businessman. The center's offerings include "Running Your Own Biz," a camp for third or fourth graders who are interested in starting their own businesses, and "Be Your Own Boss," which gives fifth and sixth graders the skinny on running their own businesses. Something's telling us that Colorado's lemonade stands are run more efficiently than those in surrounding states thanks to these camps.

8. Spy Camp

9. Magic Camp

The Wizard's Workshop bills itself as the best magic camp in Maine, and since we'd rather not be sawed in half, we won't challenge them. Professional magicians Phil Smith and Bernard Blais use their day camp to teach kids showmanship, misdirection, and the other tricks of the magic trade. At this camp, every arts and crafts section yields something useful; campers build their own props and then use them in a final show to cap off the week.

10. Civil Savvy Camp

If your main beef with summer camp was that it was just too much fun, the Charleston School of Protocol and Etiquette's Civil Savvy Camp for Children will be right up your alley. Who needs kickball or arts and crafts when you can take part in a weeklong day camp with sessions with titles like, "Handshaking," "Giving and Receiving Compliments," "Posture," and "Poise"? The goal of the camp is to "help children become more self-confident and courteous." This year's camp ended on July 2, but kids, it's not too early to start pestering your parents to sign you up for next year!
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Did you or your kids attend a unique summer camp? Tell us about it in the comments.