You could send your son or daughter to learn free-throw shooting - or you could send them to become a bronco-riding, Uzi-toting, bacon-loving rock star. We talked to six programs that really make space camp look easy.
(Plus: 9 ways to raise your kids well.)
TED NUGENT'S KAMP FOR KIDS
Grounds: Walnut Creek Recreation Area in Papillion, Nebraska.Activities: In the thick of the heavy wilderness, children learn the importance of public stewardship, environmental preservation, morality, ethics, archery, survival skills, and hunting safety. (Relax, Mom: BB guns.) The Motor City Madman personally gives a heartfelt lecture about gun ownership rights, the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and the power of octane-fueled rock. "Parents say they have us to thank for having to buy kids their first bow," says camp president Kevin Markt.
Ideal Campers: Real Americans
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ISRAEL CHALLENGE EXPERIENCE ARMY CAMP
Grounds: An undisclosed location (for "security purposes") near the Mediterranean.
Activities: Covert military training, including special ops, anti-terror tactics, and how to fire M16s, Mini-Uzis, and CZ75s on full automatic. The final challenge is "War Night," a simulated battle with heavy gunfire and mission objectives such as "stealing data from a computer center after you 'eliminate' a guard at the main gate," according to founder Ben Goldstein, who trains Israeli special forces. "It's a hell of a lot of fun and a real blast."
Ideal Campers: Quentin Tarantino
FIGHTER COMBAT INTERNATIONAL
Grounds: The clear blue skies of Phoenix, Arizona.
Activities: Looping and diving in the cockpits of bullet-spitting fighter jets that roar through the Sound Barrier, ripping great, big pockets of sound across the sky. Aspiring dogfighters learn everything from simple air combat maneuvering to "combat-ready" wingman experiences - in a real Extra 300L Aerobatic aircraft, in which they control every dive, loop and barrel roll.
Ideal Campers: Maverick, Goose
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Grounds: Multiple cities (Portland, Columbus, San Francisco, etc.)
Activities: Eating bacon for breakfast (bacon doughnuts), lunch (bacon tacos), dinner (bacon pierogies) and dessert (bacon apple pie). Also: bacon-related arts and crafts competitions, bacon recipe contests, and other events to jeopardize your cardiovascular system. "We'll be cooking roughly 100 pounds of bacon over a three-hour period," says Columbus organizer Beth Dekker. "It's the most delicious-smelling camp that you'll ever be at."
Ideal Campers: Pigs
(Almost as weird: bacon-flavored beer.)
EXPLOSIVES SUMMER CAMP
Grounds: Missouri University of Science and Technology.
Activities: Instructors such as Paul Worsey, co-host of the Discovery Channel's The Detonators, take campers into dark underground mines, load them - the mines - with dynamite, and then access the valuable minerals buried deep within the earth's crust. Other lessons include the mechanics of movie and stage pyrotechnics, such as creating a "Wall of Fire" from a tiny shell of metal salts.
Ideal Campers: Anarchist's Cookbook readers
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THE RANCH AT JESUS CANYON'S BULL RIDING CAMP
Grounds: A picturesque mountain valley outside of Wrightwood, California.
Activities: This will be the longest eight seconds of your life (except for that time back in senior year). Your rodeo training begins on a mechanical bull, followed by how to run for dear life and, eventually, actual bucking livestock - chaps, hat, and all. "It's hard to really gauge how fast and strong these animals are until you do it," says the man in charge, Jason Engle.
Ideal Campers: The heavily insured
PLUS: For more ways to enjoy the rest of your summer, here are some great outdoor grill ideas.
What camp do you send your kids to? Have any crazy camp memories?
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