Written by ELA LINDSAY | Illustration by WEST MAÄTITA
Baby boomers who want to revisit the carefree days of summer camp have a whole new possibility for adventure in store. Fantasy camps for adults are fast becoming a booming business, and they are nothing like the lazy days of summer camps of yore.
These adventures are designed to add some PG-rated spark to adult life by allowing grown-ups to live out their dreams. Adult camps answer the “what if?” we all carry deep inside. Now you can satisfy that simmering question unless, of course, you haven’t already spent all your hard-earned cash on another midlife crisis cliche like a fire-engine-red Ferrari, because adventure camps for adults come can come with a hefty price tag.
Wanna-be rock stars, for example, can live the dream at Rock ’n’ Roll Fantasy Camp, where the Rock Star for a Day experience in Las Vegas comes five different ways. The cheapest, at $299, includes a 90-minute session in a rehearsal studio, a one-on-one jam with a professional musician, a digital recording of the session and a photo of you with your “rock star.”
Weekdays are the most affordable; otherwise add $100 for the same experience on the weekend. This same fantasy can cost up to $5,999 if you bring 25 of your closest friends. But no matter which one you choose, the company promises they all “rock big time!”
For an out-of-this world experience, there’s Space Camp for adults, where astronaut trainees engage in hands-on, interactive space missions. Complete with a rocket launch—the model kind, of course—the fun also includes training on astronaut simulators, gravity chairs and a bit of spaceflight history education. This adventure will cost $499 for the three-day option or $599 for four days, meals and lodging included.
Those who play their cards close to the vest might like the World Poker Tournament Boot Camp. Players of all skill levels can find camps in various locations. Once camp’s over, participants can test newfound skills in real poker tournaments.
And they’ve got the costs covered. Not only is there a money-back guarantee on most offerings, if you cough up the $495 down payment for any two-day camp you can pay the balance later. It adds up, but since the idea is to improve your skills, you’ll theoretically be able to make lots of money to cover the investment in the long run.
When in Rome, do as the Romans did—thousands of years ago, that is. Guests at Rome Cavalieri, a Waldorf Astoria hotel, can sign up for Gladiator Training that promises hands-on warrior workshops along with lessons in a particularly memorable chapter of the Eternal City’s history.
The adventure includes a gladiator kit with traditional tunic, sandals and wooden training sword, a first-level gladiator medal and very cool bragging rights.
The cost of this adventure might set you back a bunch, however, since you need to get yourself to Rome to take advantage of it.
For another adventure closer to home, wine enthusiasts can check out the Sonoma Grape Camp, taking place in September.
Campers experience fall crush in a Sonoma County vineyard, picking grapes, learning about winemaking from master winemakers and blending their own vino.
This adventure also features tips about food and wine pairings and, perhaps best of all, campers get to enjoy the fruits of their labors. All this for a mere $2,000 per person or $3,700 per couple, which includes hotel stay for three nights, all meals, tastings and transportation during camp.
Big game hunters—the ones who prefer to shoot animals with cameras rather than weapons—might appreciate the African Veterinarian Safaris.
Safe for man and beast, this special adventure allows nonprofessionals to experience the field of veterinary science in the wilds of Africa. The adventure includes species-specific interactive safari options where guests travel alongside veterinary pros. But this big game adventures costs big bucks—well into the $5,000 to $8,500 range.
With more than 800 camps for adults in the U.S., grown-ups looking for adventures closer to home are sure to find something to tickle their fancy. If speed is your need, for example, Ventura County offers go-kart racing options at Jim Hall Kart Racing School. Experience the thrill of ultra-condensed formula racing for a half-day, full-days or even up to three days of pure adrenaline rush at the track—your boasting rights will be priceless.
Here’s an adventure that lifelong learners ages 18 and up will dig big time—the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center offers a ton of fun, including the opportunity for “citizen scientists” to help excavate at a real archaeological site near Mesa Verde National Park in southwest Colorado. Learn excavation techniques and process, identify and analyze ancient artifacts, all for $1,720 for nonmembers (members $1,595).
You might want to check out adventures offered through Outward Bound all over the world—or even closer to home, like backpacking in Joshua Tree National Park. Scope out all the adventures available for adults at a range of costs through their online course finder.
The moral of the story is that having a midlife crisis is probably going to cost you beaucoup, whether you opt for the Ferrari or one of these adult fantasy camp adventures.
But if you can swing the expense and are ready to live out a dream, there are plenty of possibilities awaiting you. And just think what fun you’ll have telling your tales back at the office.
For contact information, please see our Resources guide.
Youth summer camps have come a long way since the days of lanyards and “Kumbaya” around a campfire. Today there are camps for every interest, age group and price range. Here are a few ideas to keep the kids busy while mom and dad are off having adventures of their own.
Cali Camp offers a variety of specialty camps. Here’s a look at their lineup:
Classic: Go-karting, archery, horseback riding, gymnastics.
Equestrian Wrangler: Mountain trails, rings and English, Western and bareback lessons.
Ages 6 to14
Aerial Arts: Trapeze lessons, silks instruction, juggling, acrobatics and hula hooping.
Ages 6 and up
Aerial Studio in Ventura
Learn trapeze, silks, hammock, dance
Ages 6 to 16
Bizzy Girls Camp
Entrepreneurship skills. Campers develop a product line, write a business plan, learn branding and marketing, and sell products at a pop-up store.
Girls ages 7 to 14
Camp 3 Falls
In Los Padres National Forest. Swim, hike, mountain bike, play games and earn Boy Scout achievements.
Cub Scouts (ages 9 and 10)
Boy Scouts (ages 11-17)
SCIENCE AND TECH
Destination Science Camps
Thousand Oaks, Camarillo and Ventura.
Build robots, explore the science behind superheroes or solve a galactic mystery. Ages 5 to 11
LEGO-inspired engineering camps.
Located all over Ventura County.
iD Tech Camps
California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks.
Learn programming, apps, game design, robotics, filmmaking and photography.
Ages 7 to 17
Camarillo Springs Golf Course Summer Camp
Practice full swings with irons and woods, chipping/pitching and putting. Learn golf rules and etiquette. Full-day campers play nine holes with a pro.
Advantage Basketball Camp
Ball-handling, dribbling, and shooting skills. Develop self-esteem, experience teamwork and learn the value of hard work.
Ages 7 to 18
Aloha Beach Camp
Accredited surf camp. At Zuma Beach, Paradise Cove and Castaic Lake. Boogie boarding, jet skiing, wakeboarding, surfing, swimming and beach ecology.
FirstSteps for Kids
Social skills. Focused learning themes include space adventures, growing green gardens, the five senses and music. Crafts, gross-motor activities, social games and field trips.
Ages 2 to 7 diagnosed with autism and related disorders
We Rock the Spectrum
Arts and crafts, science, cooking and water play for all kids as well as those with special needs.
Ages 2 to 10
“I want to be a Celebrity Chef”
The Wellness Kitchen at the Four Seasons Hotel
Food preparation and styling, personal coaching for television and styling makeovers. Campers take home a personal demo reel. Culminates with a cook-off competition.
Summer Theatre Camps
Cal Lutheran University.
Beginning and advanced Shakespeare, musical theater and acting techniques.
Ages 8 to 18
Lewis Music Academy Rock & Roll
Campers learn to play classic rock on several instruments.
Minecraft Movie Making
Kids who love Minecraft can create their own Minecraft world and make a movie from it.
Grades 1 to 8
Pam Rossi’s Dance Ten Summer Camp
Jazz, hip-hop, tap and ballet.
Ages 6 and up
Premiere Musical Theatre Summer Program
Kids can work on a new musical each week and perform them on Fridays.
Ages 5 to 16
Youth Musical Theatre Summer Program
Singing, acting, stage performance skills. Year-round theater program. Summer workshops; school-year program culminates in musical theater production at Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza in the spring.
Grades 6 to 12