When a presidential candidate says adults in America are suffering from a "fun deficit," you know it's time to take the issue seriously. The following 20 camps are alternative ways to spend your allotted vacation time.
1. LEARN HOW TO RIDE A BULL AT SANKEY RODEO SCHOOL
This isn’t the mechanical bull at your local cowboy-themed bar. Sankey Rodeo School provides beginners and more advanced participants with the real bull riding, rodeo experience. With locations around the country and multiple sessions run throughout the year, the schools employ qualified professionals to guide you through every step of the way and teach you everything you need to know about the proper bull riding technique. Prices start at $415.
2. STAR IN A PROCEDURAL AT HOLLYWOOD TV STAR FANTASY CAMP
For those who’ve dreamt of walking the red carpet or posing for a magazine cover, Hollywood TV Star Fantasy Camp is the ideal retreat. The week-long (five night) experience includes the opportunity to act in two or three scenes of a crime procedural, have a photoshoot, be interviewed by "the press," have the chance to hobnob with industry professionals, and much more. Plus you can take home a DVD of your performance. Price is available upon request.
3. BECOME A KNIGHT AT ALLIANCE: LIVE ACTION ROLE PLAY
Leave your business suit at home and channel your inner medieval knight with Alliance: Live Action Role Play, the oldest LARP community in the country. Prepare an original character, wield medieval weaponry, journey through an ever-changing plot, and be a part of a diverse community of enthusiasts. Beginners are welcomed with open arms and events are held all over the country by different chapters throughout the year. There are both one day events as well as weekend long adventures. Membership prices vary and weekends start at around $60.
4. LIVE LIKE AN ASTRONAUT AT ADULT SPACE ACADEMY
You’re never too old for Space Camp thanks to the Adult Space Academy. This weekend-long, highly interactive program gives adults a chance to get a sense of the life of an astronaut. Train on simulators like the one-sixth gravity chair, build and launch a model rocket, and learn all about the history of space exploration. Prices start at $499.
5. DIG DEEPER AT THE ARCHAEOLOGY RESEARCH PROGRAM
Join archaeologists excavating sites of the early Pueblo Indians (500-1280 C.E.) in the Mesa Verde region in Colorado at the Archaeology Research Program. Take a guided tour through Mesa Verde National Park, attend talks by archaeologists and scholars, study proper excavation techniques, and examine artifacts. The program is a week long and the price for nonmembers is $1720. Meals and housing are included.
6. BREAK INTO SONG AT BROADWAY FANTASY CAMP
Can you dance? Can you sing? Can you act? No? It doesn’t matter! As long as you love to, Broadway Fantasy Camp in New York City wants you to be on stage. Sessions last from one to five days and celebrate the magic of the Great White Way. During the five-day session, you learn music and choreography from classic shows like Phantom of the Opera and Cats, talk with theater professionals, get lessons in stage makeup, tour a Broadway theater, put on a show, and toast your success at Sardi’s! Prices range from $595 to $4995. Housing, most meals, and transportation to and from the program are not included.
7. Get in the kitchen at Upper Crust
Need to up your bake sale game? Tired of having to pass off your store-bought desserts as your own? Upper Crust at Paws Up Resort invites you to spend a long weekend in beautiful Montana and attend pie, cookie, and pastry workshops taught by professional chefs. Other activities include horseback riding, wine tastings, ATV tours, and a lot of eating. Prices start at $760.
8. Drink yourself silly at Sonoma Grape Camp
Immerse yourself in the Sonoma Wine Country for a two-day, three-night exploration of everything grapes. Sonoma Grape Camp is all about hands-on participation—visitors get to walk through the vineyards, harvest grapes, tour the winery, attend seminars, and of course, enjoy delicious wines. Prices start at $2000.
9. Shimmy and Shake at the Burlesque Showgirl Retreat
Get ready to rock those sequined headpieces. The Burlesque Showgirl Retreat from Burlesque Bikini Bootcamp is four days and five nights of intense showgirl action. You aren't just staying at the Mirage Hotel & Casino in Vegas and sipping cocktails by the pool. You spend three full days learning and rehearsing a group burlesque number to perform in front of a live audience, have the opportunity to work on a solo routine, take a field trip to the Burlesque Hall of Fame, and hear from a guest speaker, among other razzle dazzle. Prices start at $1299.
10. Be amongst the trees with Boulder Outdoor Survival School
Test your survival instincts and see if you really have what it takes to make it in the wild. Boulder Outdoor Survival School runs several Field Courses that focus on living in the present without the burden of technology or literal (and metaphorical) baggage. With only a knife, a poncho, and a blanket, participants hike through Southern Utah and learn the ancient skills of the Puebloan people. Trips last from seven to 28 days and prices start at $1595.
11. Battle the undead at Zombie Survival Camp
If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead or think zombies are in our near future, a weekend at Zombie Survival Camp in New Jersey will prepare you for the worst. Learn how to effectively throw a knife, use a crossbow, practice first aid, employ Zombitsu to defeat all evil, and how to stay healthy and safe in case of an emergency. You also get one-on-one time with experienced firearm experts so you can perfect your skills before returning home. Weekend camps are $450 per person and meals and lodging are included.
12. Look up at the stars at Astronomy Camp
Embrace your nerdiness and attend science camp for adults! Astronomy Camp, run through The University of Arizona, is a two or three day hands-on program that introduces participants to the wonders of the cosmos. Visit one of the nearby observatories and operate high-powered telescopes, attend lectures and workshops from scientists about space, and hear from space artists and musicians about how space has impacted their work. Tuition is $600 for two days.
13. Grin and Beer it at Black Fly Craft Brewing Camp
Earn your alcohol by learning the craft-brewing process. The Black Fly Craft Brewing Camp is a yearly event held at Great Camp Sagamore in New York. Attendees take courses on the craft brewing process, participate in a home-brew evaluation, and hear from brewing experts on all things beer. The weekend costs $279 per person and includes meals and a beer pairing dinner cruise on Raquette Lake.
14. Embrace Your Inner Freak at Coney Island USA's Sideshow School
Day camps can be just as fun as sleepaway camps and the Coney Island USA’s Sideshow School is proof. Classes are offered on 3 to 4 consecutive days and cover sideshow skills like fire eating, sword swallowing, and even snake charming. Tuition varies depending on class length.
15. Defend yourself at Incredible Adventure's Covert Ops
Learn Krav Maga under the blazing Miami sun at Incredible Adventure’s Covert Ops two- or four-day missions. Led by a former Israeli Defense Force soldier who specialized in undercover operations before working as a bodyguard for the Israeli Ministry of Defense, the program covers firearm use, counter ambush tactics, and shooting from a moving vehicle, among other methods of combat. Prices start at $2950.
16. Search for clues during Murder Mystery Weekend
Stay at Point Sebago in Maine during their yearly Murder Mystery Weekend, and you’ll get a chance to solve an elaborate crime played out through an immersive theatrical experience. On Friday night, someone will die (spoiler) and it’ll be up to you and the rest of the guests to race against the clock to determine whodunit. Prices start at $165 and include meals, entertainment, and lodging.
17. Find a home on the range during Arizona Cowboy College
Live the life of a cowboy at one of Arizona Cowboy College’s week long sessions. The first two days are spent at an equestrian center, and after that you saddle up and ride on over to a working cattle ranch. Topics covered in lessons include roping, safety, grooming, handling, and everything it takes to run a ranch. The program is $2250 and participants are advised to bring their own harmonicas.
18. Build a boat at WoodenBoat School
If your community were relying on you to build an arc and save all the people and the animals from a flood, could you do it? If that’s something you’re concerned about, or you just want to learn about woodworking, WoodenBoat School in Maine has a plethora of one or two week woodworking and boat building courses for all levels. Beginners can take an introductory course, while those with a bit more hammer and nail knowledge can build a dory, a dinghy, or a skiff. Tuition varies by class and room and board are available for an additional cost.
19. Cook up a storm at The Culinary Institute of America
Listen up, foodies and fans of the Cooking Channel! The Culinary Institute of America offers various cooking boot camps in New York, Texas, and California throughout the year. You can enroll in basic training, or a different boot camp that caters to your specific cuisine interests. Camps range from one to four days and prices vary. All tools and some meals are included in tuition, but accommodations are not.
20. Blow Your Horn at Railroad Reality Week
Toil and sweat while working on Nevada’s Northern Railway during Railroad Reality Week. Learn about what it takes to keep a train moving as you join the track crew, work in the maintenance shop, and ultimately get a chance to cycle through all of the roles that are required to get a train from Point A to Point B. The week costs $995 and lodging is not included.