For parents, the prospect of having the kids around for most of the summer can be a bit daunting. One solution is to send them away to camp for a week or two. The concept of “summer camp” started out as something that was pretty simple. The range of options available today is astonishing, though. Here are some of the most insane summer camps out there – covering everything from ninja skills to zombie survival experiences.
20. Hollywood Stunt Camp – Pali Adventures Summer Camp
In life, three things are certain – death, taxes and kids hurting themselves by jumping off stuff. Imagine then, a camp which lets kids jump off stuff in a safe environment. Enter Hollywood Stunt Camp, based near L.A., which teaches children how to perform stunts like a silver screen pro, from fighting to falling to swordplay.
19. Spy Camp
The International Spy Museum in Washington is dedicated to all things espionage-related, up to and including teaching kids how to become the next James Bond. Recruits spend five days working with real spies, running training missions in the streets and learning to use gadgets.
18. Entrepreneur Camp – Camp BizSmart
Camps tend to appeal most to outdoorsy kids, but what if your child spends their free time learning about business strategy? That’s where Camp BizSmart comes in. This California-based camp lets 11 to 15-year-olds spend two weeks working with actual companies and coming up with product ideas and business outlines. If that’s what floats their boat.
17. Israeli Army Camp – Marva Israel Experience Camp
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to fight in the Israeli armed forces, this one is for you. Applicants have to be from outside of Israel, and during the course – lasting almost 8 weeks – you’re taken all over the country. There are exercises, hikes and plenty more, all of it done to a strict military code.
16. Medieval Camp – Arcatheos and Captivenia
If those two names sound like locations from Game of Thrones, that’s no accident. Arcatheos and Captivenia are medieval history style camps aimed at boys and girls respectively. Both based near Calgary, they aim to teach Catholic kids about their faith through the lens of medieval immersion.
15. Etiquette Camp – Civil Savvy Camp
For a parent, the idea of sending a kid to camp only for them to come back more polite and articulate is probably pretty exciting. That’s the aim of Civil Savvy Camp, run by the Charleston School of Protocol and Etiquette, a five-day camp for 9 to 13-year-olds which aims to help them learn more about manners and social skills.
14. North Korea Camp – Unification Leaders Camp
North Korea actually has its own summer camp – but so does South Korea. Officially called the Unification Leaders Camp, it aims to teach kids more about the land of Kim Jong-un by putting them in a room with North Korean defectors.
13. Ninja Camp USA
If you’re going to learn to become a ninja, you should probably find that monastery Bruce Wayne went to in Batman Begins. Short of that, you could always try Ninja Warrior Camp in New York State. Kids engage in hand-to-hand combat training, obstacle course runs and even learn how to use ninja weapons.
12. DJ Camp – Scratch DJ Academy
The young adult version of camp is arguably going to music festivals, so why not combine the two? Scratch DJ Academy’s summer camp lets kids spend five days learning about every facet of DJing, from music theory to scratching itself. At the end of it all, they get to play a set for their parents.
11. Explosives Summer Camp
What kid wouldn’t want to spend six days learning how to blow things up? At the Explosives Summer Camp in Missouri, high school students learn how explosives work, how to handle them and finally how to detonate them. The whole thing culminates in a grand fireworks display operated by the campers.
10. Zombie Survival Camp
Some slightly less stable people would argue that “zombie survival” is a valuable skill. In any case, it’s probably a fun way to spend a week. Campers fight off zombies with Nerf guns and figure out ways to survive in this new, scary world.
9. Hunger Games Camp
The Hunger Games books and films don’t paint a picture of an overly attractive future – certainly not one you’d ever wish on your kids – but there’s a camp for it anyway. The British Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay Camps – yes, one for every book – pit kids against each other and then against the oppressive government.
8. Camp Motorsport
Putting a kid behind the wheel of a car might be wildly irresponsible but putting them behind the wheel of a go-kart or buggy is another matter. Virginia’s motorsport camp offers a week of racetrack action, educating kids on driving technique while letting them cut loose on 3.5 miles of kart track and 20 miles off-road.
7. Shark Camp – Fiji Shark Studies
A day trip to an aquarium is one thing, but how about getting in the water with actual sharks? High school students can head to Fiji and spend 24 days diving in a specially built reserve and interacting with tiger, bull and lemon sharks completely safely.
6. Chinese Cultural Immersion Camp – 360 Student Travel China
If you really want to get away from your kids, you could always send them to the other side of the world. This camp has kids spending three weeks getting a comprehensive experience of Chinese culture. Activities include Tai Chi, calligraphy, rice farming and even a visit to a panda sanctuary.
5. Dungeons and Dragons Camp – Role Playing Games Camp
The idea of summer camp is to get kids outside rather than hanging around the house. While D&D might have been the archenemy of summer camp 30 years ago, there’s now a camp just for it. And when Independent Lake Campers aren’t playing or creating roleplaying games, they’re getting down to it with Magic: The Gathering.
4. Physics of Quidditch Camp
Sports-based camps are far from uncommon, but rarely did the sport in question start out as a fictitious one in a children’s book. The Physics of Quidditch Summer Camp runs out of the University of Maryland. For five days, 11 to 15-year-olds can in fact study and play the sport. Albeit without the magic, sadly.
3. Space Camp
Space Camp is, in a way, the one that started it all, the summer camp that showed America that you could do more than canoe and whittle. There are variations all over the country, but the one in Huntsville, Alabama is one of the most comprehensive, sending kids on simulated missions to the stars. And – perhaps most surprisingly – the camp was apparently the brainchild of former-Nazi rocket scientist, Dr. Wernher von Braun.
2. Mad Science Camp
Plenty of camps on this list are science-based, but Mad Science Camp tries to be all-encompassing. The five-day courses span a range of subjects from rocket launches to robotics to chemistry, depending on what the kids are most interested in learning about.
1. Young Guns Camp
Most parents would probably argue that arming kids is unwise but if their kids are members of the United States Practical Shooting Association then it’s likely a different story. In fact, the USPSA runs a junior academy for members aged 9 to 18. Indeed, among other activities, attendants learn to fire assault weapons at human-shaped targets.