6 Insane Summer Camps That Will Make You Wish You Were a Kid
Summer camp is a familiar experience to any kid whose parents had a disposable income and a desire to have the house to themselves for a few weeks. And sure, canoeing and hiking can be fun for a while, but what if there were summer camps where you could learn how to be a ninja? Or fly a freaking jet through the mountains of Africa?
As it turns out, there are camps out there heroically offering all of those things, and for some of them, you don't even need to be a kid to enroll. The disposable income is pretty much still a requirement, though.
High Explosives Camp
That's right, teenagers -- the Missouri University of Science and Technology offers a summer camp for people your age looking to blow some shit up, because apparently one of our eighth-birthday wishes finally came true. If you're a junior or senior in high school with an interest in pursuing a career in explosives (a phrase here meaning "you are a teenager who enjoys things that are awesome"), you can enroll in the five-day course and learn how to handle materials such as fireworks, dynamite, and good ol' C-freaking-4.
"Maybe you're irresponsible for not trusting children with this."
Campers will be given instruction in blast mining, underground demolition, and pyrotechnics. In addition to surface-blasting quarries and traveling deep into a lead mine to set off TNT clusters, accepted students will get to strap explosive charges to watermelons, Care Bears, and eerily trussed-up Barbie dolls, because even experienced professionals haven't completely moved beyond the "tying firecrackers to G.I. Joes" phase that set them on their career paths in the first place.
And to be fair, Shrek had this one coming.
As we mentioned earlier, a portion of the camp is focused on pyrotechnics, with the goal of making theatrical explosions for movies and television. To that end, the campers get to create controlled "walls of fire," which are exactly what they sound like:
Provided you heard "the napalm scene from Apocalypse Now" when you read that.
They will also put together a fireworks show using commercial-grade ordnance that could blow the ass off of an elephant. On one hand, we assume the FBI monitors each member of the applicant pool for a minimum of five years after camp ends, but on the other, we still totally want to go.
Stunt Double Camp
At Pali Adventures Hollywood Stunt Camp, kids ages 9 to 16 can learn to do all the death-defying leaps and falls that Vin Diesel pays some other bald guy to do for him. For a few thousand bucks, your child will do everything from diving dramatically over obstacles in the wake of an imaginary explosion to crash-rolling from the side of a moving vehicle and falling from every tall object on the camp's property.
That kid on the right had better tuck his head in the next half second or his parents will be receiving a difficult phone call.
The campers start small, with 2-foot jumps and simple mat tumbles, but by the end of their stay, they'll be punching and kicking each other off of 32-foot scaffolding towers and diving headlong into padded ravines, which are legitimately marketable career skills for a teenager living in California.
For example, some movie producer needs to hire this kid immediately.
They'll also learn stage combat, swordplay, and other faux-fighting techniques to ensure each one of them a role as a nameless henchman who gets his neck snapped by Jason Statham in a shipyard fire. At the end of the week, the campers participate in a choreographed stunt show involving every technique they've learned. We assume Michael Bay attends each show incognito to scout for the best Megan Fox lookalikes to shoot out of a cannon or whatever in his upcoming Ninja Turtles movie.
Not that many ninjas, from what we hear.
But if you want just a touch more realism, you'll probably want to turn things up a notch in ...
Israeli Special Forces Camp
For just $3,650, the equivalent of a pair of 1997 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supremes, you can spend a week at the Israel Challenge Experience becoming a flaming sword of anti-terrorism dripping with stealth and awesomeness.
In just a week, you'll be capable of gunning down Howard Stern.
You'll be given room and board on a military base outside of Netanya, Israel (travel arrangements are up to you), where you will undergo weapons and tactics training taught by former Israeli commandos. The website guarantees that you will handle assault weapons like M16s and AK-47s on a daily basis, and you will be required to carry the Israeli Defense Forces standard Uzi on your person at all times, lest someone should ambush you on your way to the bug juice cooler.
You will also be trained in Krav Maga so you can break the shit out of any nefarious arms that foolishly attempt to grab you, and you will be thrown headfirst into dramatic training exercises, such as rescuing a bunch of hostages from a bus, to prove your worth to your commanders.
The aforementioned bus has an odd prominence in most of the website's photos.
It all builds up to War Night, wherein you and your squad must plan an intricate covert operation and carry it out without getting pretend-murdered by ruthless enemy combatants. These stealth missions could be anything from planting listening devices in an opposing camp to stealing sensitive documents from a heavily guarded installation, easily beating out the paintball game you played at "Big Larry's Ball-Splatterin' Thunder Ranch" or wherever it was you went for last year's team-building retreat. It's essentially a fantasy camp for people who want to be Eric Bana in Munich.
Not many camps can give you PTSD, but a week's worth of Mossad combat experience might do the trick if you spend the rest of the year slumped behind a desk or a cash register. So the next time Joe-Joe from Receiving takes your clearly labeled lunch bag from the break room refrigerator, you can respond with deadly force and hip toss him through the Pepsi machine.
You'll be having flashbacks to that goddamn bus for weeks.
Ninja Camp USA teaches you the shadow warrior's path of stealth and deception, fulfilling every tae kwon do class daydream you had as a child, with the notable exclusion of dancing mutant reptiles and Vanilla Ice. Both kids and adults can enroll to receive training in ninja weaponry (including swords, shurikens, and throwing stars), hand-to-hand combat skills, and Japanese history over the course of several days while wearing all black in the punishing summer heat.
Mark and Jake gave up, but Kenshi is committed.
Arguably the most important aspect of ninjutsu is stealth, as a non-stealthy ninja is essentially Jackie Chan, and he probably has his own fantasy camp. To reflect this, Ninja Camp USA places a heavy emphasis on nighttime stealth tactics, stealth competitions, and camouflaging techniques that teach you to utilize your surroundings, like when Arnold Schwarzenegger painted himself up with mud in Predator. There are also high-ropes courses for strength and agility training, because any ninja worth her salt has to be able to descend from above like a stabby raindrop:
"Guys ... guys, I'm stuck. Can somebody go find a trampoline?"
On completion, all campers receive a certificate of stealth to take home, which you can then hang on your wall along with your diplomas.
Tell us you wouldn't feel better talking to a therapist who had also graduated from ninja school.
Everyone also gets to take home a set of throwing knives and a ninja uniform, so they can put their stealth training to the test by robbing the hell out of the nearest gas station.
The Lord of the Rings / Game of Thrones Fantasy Battle Camp
Live-action role playing can be a turnoff for some campers, because whaling on a bunch of other kids in T-shirts and shorts with a cardboard tube for a sword fails to really capture the magic of being locked in an epic fantasy battle. However, Camp Rivendell in Calgary, Canada, took things up a notch by pitting campers against vicious hordes of bloodthirsty orcs, requiring them to work together over the span of a week battling wave after punishing wave of dickbashing monster fury.
Wow, the fact that this is a Catholic boys' camp really makes that last sentence unsettling.
The camp, named after that place where Hugo Weaving lives in The Lord of the Rings, tossed kids into the Tolkien universe and tasked them with defending the world of men from Sauron's army of evil.
Homoerotic subtext aside, this looks way better than Vacation Bible School.
In addition to learning basic swordfighting and combat skills, campers would build forts and functioning catapults, which already puts them a step above the local LARPing society that meets in the field behind the YMCA every Wednesday for a spirited pre-Shoney's arena battle. And since orcs are pretty thin on the ground in Calgary, the villainous monsters were played by volunteers among the campers' dads, allowing many children to revenge themselves against their fathers for blaming that hot dog fart on them during the cramped family drive down to Disney World.
Above: "Good Catholic leadership."
Unfortunately, Camp Rivendell wasn't exactly endorsed by J.R.R. Tolkien's estate, and the camp received a cease and desist order to change its name. So, they redressed the whole thing as Arcatheos, a thinly veiled Game of Thrones fantasy camp without any legally ensnaring references, but with most of the original programs intact.
They do disembowel pregnant women, but not during weddings.
In addition to the swordplay and fort building, campers now learn how to live a "castle life," which is a fancy way of saying "bury their poop in piles of straw and be convinced everything around them is haunted." Also, the kids can return year after year and progress into knighthood, then subsequently mentor a whole new generation of Arcatheos squires, which isn't a bad way to spend five days every summer.
Supersonic Safari Camp
For $10,000, you can spend six nights on the Kapama Private Game Reserve in South Africa, taking daily safari tours and blazing through the skies in a Russian MiG-21 fighter jet, smashing two of everyone's childhood fantasies together like a pair of jackknifing big rigs in an ice storm.
Incredible Adventures will set you up with this weeklong vacation as part of the MiG-21 Supersonic Club, unsurprisingly founded by a man whose personal mission statement is "speed, speed, and more speed!!!" The exclamation points are his.
The Kapama Reserve is a 50-square-mile compound filled with the most popular African wildlife. Twice each day you'll have the option of being driven through the reserve by a guide, where you will get closer to elephants, lions, rhinos, and leopards than half of our readers have ever been to a VCR:
"Sometimes the lions don't want to come out, so we make Ronald go sit in the Danger Chair and start crying like his leg is broken."
The enclosed park ensures that you don't have to drive more than an hour to see the entire cast of The Lion King, cutting what is routinely an excruciatingly long scavenger hunt for most safari tours down to a single afternoon. And you can do it twice a day for the entire trip.
When you aren't absorbing every precious glimpse you get of some of the rarest creatures on Earth, you'll be screaming through the sky just below the stratosphere in a Russian jet flying faster than fucking thunder. You get one 30- to 45-minute flight per vacation, which may seem short until you consider that that half-hour will be spent inside a supersonic jet taking you on a soaring adventure loaded with tremendous explosions of speed. They even let you man the controls at one point.
If you do anything but barrel roll, you're wasting an incredible opportunity.
You can schedule additional flights if you want to (and have unlimited funds), although the website isn't clear whether buzzing the animals while blaring the theme from Top Gun is an option on the standard vacation package or something that costs extra.
Related Reading: Some people should have nothing to do with kids. For more proof of that, read about PETA's child propaganda games. If the whole "indoctrinating children" thing still has your attention, this comic book about cyborg Sean Hannity fighting future liberals will surely brighten your day. Keep the irresponsible children's media streak alive with utterly insane Peanut's specials. You haven't seen Charlie Brown until you've seen him mourning war dead!