Kids crave adventure, especially when they're free from the demands of school. Space camp, spy camp, circus camp and more – extreme summer camps will satisfy their desire for thrills and still stay within a parent’s comfort zone.
by Lori Zanteson
The school year can really take a toll on kids. Come summer, they are itching to get out and get active. And as the summer goes along, they get more and more restless.
But to satisfy a kid, a summer activity's gotta be kicked up, fueled with adrenaline, and amped with excitement. That’s a tall order from a parent’s standpoint—until you take a look at summer camp. Not just any summer camp. Check out extreme camps for adventures that are sure to satisfy your child’s thirst for thrills yet maintain your peace of mind.
Many kids are obsessed with astronauts and flying through space on a rocket ship. Space camp prepares them for takeoff in their coolest and most extreme mission yet. Kids ages 9-11 can be a part of Space Camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
The program gives the full experience of training like an astronaut, from lift-off at 4 Gs to practicing the real moon walk in the 1/6 gravity simulator.
Students learn what it would be like to work in a weightless environment on trainers like the Zero-Gravity Wall (see photo above). They actually maneuver the MMU—the Manned Maneuvering Unit propulsion backpack that allowed astronauts to perform untethered spacewalks from the space shuttle.
Campers also build and launch their own rocket and lift-off in a shuttle simulator, command from a mission control center, and “live and work” in Space Camp’s International Space Station simulator.
There are Space Camp programs throughout the year. For older kids, Space Academy and Advanced Space Academy are open to ages 12-14 and 15-18, respectively.
Ever feel like there’s a spy in the house? Put that curiosity to task at Spy Camp where there is never an idle moment. Open your child’s world to secret agent style spying at Camp Lohikan in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, the ideal setting for high action adventure.
Junior agents are trained in the “martial arts, code breaking, surveillance techniques and undercover maneuvers.” And that’s just to prepare them for the real training.
Any spy needs to learn to get around (and away!) on an ATV 4-wheeler, to scale a rope course at altitude, and to jet over water obstacles on skis. For those old enough, combat tactics using paintball will come in handy too.
Totally prepared, agents take on a mission to put their skills and talents to the test. Role playing was never so realistic at home in the backyard. Physical skills, teamwork, and serious critical thinking are disguised as pure fun and adventure. Organized by age, every spy kid will be challenged and satisfied at this extreme adventure camp.
Girls just want to have fun
Girls can be just as extreme as boys at Pali Overnight Adventures’ Girl Power Extreme at sunny California’s Lake Arrowhead. An adventure exclusive to girls, this camp will rock their worlds with the addition of a little girl-style pampering.
Intended to build perseverance and determination, activities are a big dose of extreme: zip lines, paintball, skating in Shred City, racing minibikes, and self-defense. To meet all a girl’s needs, the extreme is tempered with yoga, manicures, pedicures, and other rejuvenating spa treatments.
Since every girl needs the balance that comes from inner strength, girl power is emphasized through bonding time. Girls are led in talks about female role models like popular athletes and leaders as they learn to empower themselves through goal-setting and achievement.Join the circus!
We’ve all got a clown or two on our hands, so why not let them experience a few tricks of the trade at circus camp? The circus is made for kids, making it the perfect camp to learn new skills, build confidence, and enjoy lots of belly laughs.
Kids can make their circus dreams a reality at circus camp where they learn and practice the skills and techniques they most want to perform. They might choose classic clowning, magic, juggling, and the circus bike, or the graceful techniques of acrobatics, flying trapeze, and the tight wire. The more daring will likely venture toward fire-eating, stilts, and the unicycle.
Circus professionals instruct all of the skills in small groups to ensure safety in practice and performance. In addition to the physical skills of strength and coordination, kids develop focus and self confidence and learn teambuilding. Of course, a real circus performance serves as the camp’s grand finale.
If you are parenting children who are craving adventure with an alternative, intense edge, extreme camps are the way to go. They get exactly what they want, and it just happens to be in a safe and supervised environment—exactly what you want!
Lori Zanteson is a Southern California-based writer and mother of three who specializes in health, food, and fitness for families.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Space and Rocket Center