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20 Adult Camps for the Young At Heart

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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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.  


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.


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

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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.

Scientific Reports, Fernando Ramirez Rozzi
Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
Humans Might Have Practiced Brain Surgery on Cows 5000 Years Ago
Scientific Reports, Fernando Ramirez Rozzi
Scientific Reports, Fernando Ramirez Rozzi

In the 1970s, archaeologists discovered a site in France containing hundreds of cow skeletons dating back 5000 to 5400 years. The sheer number wasn't surprising—human agriculture in that part of the world was booming by 3000 BCE. What perplexed scientists was something uncovered there a few decades later: a cow skull bearing a thoughtfully drilled hole. Now, a team of researchers has released evidence that suggests the hole is an early example of animal brain surgery.

Fernando Ramírez Rozzi, a paleontologist with the French National Center for Scientific Research, and Alain Froment, an anthropologist at the Museum of Mankind in Paris, published their findings in the journal Nature Scientific Reports. After comparing the opening to the holes chiseled into the skulls of humans from the same era, they found the bones bore some striking similarities. They didn't show any signs of fracturing from blunt force trauma; rather, the hole in the cow skull, like those in the human skulls, seemed to have been carved out carefully using a tool made for exactly that purpose. That suggests that the hole is evidence of the earliest known veterinary surgery performed by humans.

Trepanation, or the practice of boring holes into human skulls, is one of the oldest forms of surgery. Experts are still unsure why ancient humans did this, but the level of care that went into the procedures suggests that the surgery was likely used to treat sick patients while they were still alive. Why a person would perform this same surgery on a cow, however, is harder to explain.

The authors present a few theories, the first being that these ancient brain surgeons were treating a sick cow the same way they might treat a sick human. If a cow was suffering from a neural disease like epilepsy, perhaps they though that cutting a hole in its head would relieve whatever was agitating the brain. The cow would have needed to be pretty special to warrant such an effort when there were hundreds of healthy cows living on the same plot of land, as evidenced by the skeletons it was found with.

Another possible explanation was that whoever operated on the cow did so as practice to prepare them for drilling into the heads of live humans one day. "Cranial surgery requires great manual dexterity and a complete knowledge of the anatomy of the brain and vessel distribution," the authors write in the study. "It is possible that the mastery of techniques in cranial surgery shown in the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods was acquired through experimentation on animals."

Either way, the bovine patient didn't live to see the results of the procedure: The bone around the hole hadn't healed at all, which suggests the cow either died during surgery or wasn't alive to begin with.

Stefan Sauer, AFP/Getty Images
Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
13-Year-Old Amateur Archaeologist Discovers the Buried Treasure of a Danish King
Stefan Sauer, AFP/Getty Images
Stefan Sauer, AFP/Getty Images

In January, amateur archaeologist René Schön and his 13-year-old student Luca Malaschnitschenko were scouring a field on an island in the Baltic Sea when something small and silver triggered their metal detector. What they initially thought was aluminum trash turned out to be a coin from a 10th-century treasure hoard that once belonged to a Danish king, AP reports.

Schön and Malaschnitschenko discovered the site on the eastern German island of Ruegen, but it wasn't until mid-April that state archaeologists uncovered the hoard in its entirety. Both of the amateur archaeologists were invited back to take part in the final dig, which spanned 4300 square feet.

The treasure trove includes pearls, jewelry, a Thor's hammer, and about 100 silver coins, with the oldest dating back to 714 CE and the most recent to 983 CE. Experts believe the collection once belonged to the Viking-born Danish king Harald "Harry" Bluetooth, who abandoned his Norse faith and brought Christianity to Denmark.

Pile of silver coins.
Stefan Sauer, AFP/Getty Images

Threatened by a rebellion led by his son, the king fled Denmark in the late 980s—around the same time the silver hoard was buried—and took refuge in Pomerania, on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea. He died there in 987.

Harry Bluetooth derived his nickname from his bluish dead tooth. Today his legacy lives on in the Swedish Bluetooth technology that bears his name. The symbol for the tech also uses the runic characters for his initials: HB.

According to the archaeologists who worked there, the dig site represents the largest trove of Bluetooth coins ever discovered in the southern Baltic region.

[h/t AP]


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