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harry potter camp

11 Alternative Summer Camps

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harry potter camp

All a summer camp used to need to keep kids entertained 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 specific interests.

1. Kids ‘N Comedy Camp

“Take a break from the mosquitoes and the kumbayas,” says the official website, “and spend 2 weeks at the Gotham Comedy Club in Manhattan, learning about improv, comic acting, and stand-up comedy!” Every session ends with the participants putting together a live “graduation” show like the one above from 2008.

2. Explosives Camp

If your teen loves pyrotechnics, don’t let her summer go up in smoke. The Missouri University of Science & Technology admits 20 lucky high-schoolers into this elite program every June. During the application process, prospective campers are asked to submit a 500 word essay about “Why I am interested in a career focusing on the application of explosives.” If accepted, your son or daughter will learn safety procedures, demolition basics, and how to build 3-inch firework shells.

3. Ninja Camp USA 

Here’s an epic recruitment video guaranteed to stir your inner ninja. Sessions are held in New York state’s Orange County during June, July, and October. 

4. Spy Camp

Spy Camp feels so authentic, it might as well be classified. Training missions, making top-notch disguises, and learning the ropes from actual spies are all part of the package. And as an added bonus, the super-secret camp is hosted by Washington D.C.’s International Spy Museum.

5. Fiji Shark Studies Camp

Go Broadreach

Before departing for college, kids can go scuba-diving off the coast of Fiji with the ocean’s most misunderstood denizens.

6. “Talk to the Hand” Puppet Camp

Tears of Joy

With a name like that, it has to be good! Aspiring Jim Hensons throughout the greater Portland area construct their very own puppets before showing them off in an original stage play.

7. Pali Hollywood Stunt Camp

“There’s a lot of trust involved,” says stunt director Dean Cudworth. “I start kids off at a two-foot fall. Every day, I go up about two [to] three feet.” That all adds up. Other heart-pounding activities include stage-fighting and motorsports.

8. Wizards and Warriors Camp

Located in northeastern Massachusetts, the camp helps kids create their own characters and partake in a large-scale fantasy roleplaying game. 

9. Urban Kid Adventures

New York City's Urban Kid Adventures teaches city kids about the wonders of nature. Their goal is to "provide a fun, safe, environment where the children can discover first hand how awesome nature is"—from friction fires to archery. UKA also runs seminars and workshops for adults.

10. Canada’s 1st Zombie Survival Training Camp

Zombie Survival Camp

It’s the trend that just won’t die! These brain-eaters have become media darlings lately. Should the living dead ever actually rise, you’ll be well-prepared to fend them off after mastering “hand-to-rotting-hand combat” and this unique camp. 

11. Harry Potter Camp

Harry Potter Camp

This delightful camp (run by Logan, Utah’s school district) has been “Bringing Magic to Muggles” by helping Potter parents educate the next generation of witches and wizards for over a decade. Now, if only somebody would start a Game of Thrones version…

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Samsung’s Star Wars Vacuums Offer Everything You Want in a Droid
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Samsung

Hate housecleaning but love Star Wars? Samsung’s got the solution. In anticipation of December’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the newest film in the Star Wars saga, Samsung has transformed a limited number of its VR7000 POWERbot robot vacuum cleaners into two familiar faces from George Lucas’s legendary space opera: a Stormtrooper and Darth Vader (which comes with Wi-Fi connectivity and a remote control).

In order to create a unique device that would truly thrill Star Wars aficionados, Samsung consulted with fans of the film throughout each stage of the process. The result is a pair of custom-crafted robo-vacuums that fill your home with the sounds of a galaxy far, far away as they clean (when you turn Darth Vader on, for example, you'll hear his iconic breathing).

“We are very pleased to be part of the excitement leading up to the release of The Last Jedi and to be launching our limited edition POWERbot in partnership with Star Wars fans,” B.S. Suh, Samsung’s executive vice president, said in a press statement. “From its industry-leading suction power, slim design, and smart features, to the wonderful character-themed voice feedback and sound effects, we are confident the Star Wars limited edition of the VR7000 will be a big hit.”

Be warned that this kind of power suction doesn’t come cheap: while the Stormtrooper POWERbot will set you back $696, the Darth Vader vacuum retails for $798. Who knew the Dark Side was so sparkling clean?


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Tales from the Butterball Hotline
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It’s 8 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day and you just realized you forgot to thaw your turkey. What do you do?

Don’t panic. You just need to call 1-800-BUTTERBALL. Yes, the Turkey Talk-Line is real. And yes, they really do have poultry experts standing by to help you with your last-minute snafus, flubs, and foul-ups. If you wake up in a cold sweat at 2 a.m. thinking about salmonella or whether you can bathe your turkey with your toddler (see below), never fear—Butterball is there for you. And it's not just about Thanksgiving. The line is open in December, too, to help you with those holiday feasts as well.

When the hotline first opened up to panicked chefs in the early 1980s, a mere six “home economists” responded to 11,000 phone calls during November and December. These days, their staff has expanded to more than 50 and they answer more than 100,000 questions. 

Those staff members have heard it all, too. They get the typical questions you’d expect turkey experts to get, of course: How long will it take to thaw the turkey? How do I stuff a turkey? Are there any allergens in Butterball products? But there’s also the, um, unexpected.

Among the more questionable calls the turkey experts have received: “Can I brine my turkey in the washing machine?” and “The family dog is inside the turkey and can’t get out.” (It was a Chihuahua, in case you’re wondering, and the Butterball expert did manage to help the owners get the dog out safely.)

Another inexperienced caller worried that her turkey wouldn’t come out of the oven because she figured it was going to rise like bread does.

One Butterball employee actually stayed on the line while her caller walked through a grocery store and painstakingly picked out ingredients for his Thanksgiving dinner.

More recently, a hotline employee was surprised to hear from a wife who came home to find the turkey floating in the tub while her husband gave the kids a bath. Believe it or not, because the turkey hadn't been removed from the package, it was salvaged—though the kids complained about the chilly water.

Don’t feel bad if you have to call the Butterball hotline for assistance, though. Even President Bartlet knows when to call in the experts:

By the way, there’s also an option for those of you who prefer assistance in the form of written word: you can text your questions to 1-844-877-3456 through December 24. The company is also answering questions via its social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter. And they've recently added Spanish-speaking experts plus their first male turkey-talker.

This post originally appeared in 2011.

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