Despite your parents’ promises that you would have a great time with arts and crafts activities, overprotective counselors, and murderers in hockey masks, summer camp just wasn't the badass coming-of-age experience it was made out to be. Really, it just gave Mom and Dad an excuse to abandon your whiny ass without any of the standard guilt or therapy bills that come along with that decision.
You might have felt different if you went to one of these camps, though.
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1. Roller Coaster Camp
Where:ThrillCoaster Tours - East Brunswick, NJ Cost: $2,795.00 for the full tour Camp life: If your parents didn’t take you on any whirling death machines during your summer breaks, we’re sorry that you didn’t grow up with true Americans. ThrillCoaster Tours dispenses with the “building friendships” bullshit that most camps advertise and instead focuses on what this overstimulated generation really wants: the next adrenaline fix. Over the course of a week, campers head to some of the most popular thrill parks in the country, hitting the major roller coasters and learning valuable skills like, “Putting your hands in the air during drops is awesome!” and “Don’t eat cheese fries before the ride.”
2. Stunt Driving Camp
Where:Camp Motorsport - Laurel, VA Cost: $2,290.00 for the 2-week session Camp life: Society says that kids don’t belong behind the wheel. Camp Motorsport says, “They’ve all grown up with the Fast and the Furious franchise, there’s nothing we can do.” Kids here spend their days learning to ride go-karts and half-scale race cars, because road rage isn’t something only adults should get to enjoy. When they're not recreating Mad Max, they learn about physics, engineering, and everything else a budding getaway driver needs to know. And we had to settle for Hot Wheels as kids.
3. Explosives Summer Camp
Where:Missouri S&T - Rolla, MO Cost: $1,350.00 Camp life: The urge to give in to your inner Michael Bay never fully goes away. At the Explosives Summer Camp of Missouri S&T, it never has to. High school students (who haven't committed crimes or purchased too many death metal albums) handle detonators, take bomb-centric field trips, and generally learn the science of blowing shit up. Finally, they get to put those lessons into real practice with their own fireworks show. Camp counselors are presumably either the coolest people on the planet, or the most terrifying.
4. Shark Camp
Where:Broadreach - Raleigh, NC Cost: $6,580.00 Camp life: Take a trip to Fiji. Scuba dive. Observe sharks in their natural habitats. Stare down Mother Nature's personal "Don't you dare mess with me" gift to humankind. Know that no one’s first-day-of-school summer vacation story will be as badass as yours.
5. Video Game Building Camp
Where:TechKnowHow - Various locations / iD Tech Camps - Various locations Cost: $395.00 per week (TechKnowHow), $3,699.00 for two-week session (iD Tech Camps) Camp life: Your summer camp memories probably involve learning how to make popsicle stick picture frames that would mysteriously disappear from view whenever guests came over. Instead, these kids learn how to code their own video games. Programs range from making a side-scrolling mobile device game to designing a full-scale RPG. It's probably a good thing we missed out on this experience, though. We'd have gone full Grand Theft Auto and been kicked out.
6. Action Hero Spy Camp
Where:Spy Camp - Lake Como, PA / Spy Games Experiences - Milton Keynes, UK Cost: $8,600 for full summer season (Spy Camp), $75.89 per session (Spy Games Experiences) Camp life: If you always wanted to spend the summer being Jason Bourne, these camps teach you useful skills like martial arts, surveillance, and how to escape an assassin via ATV. The only thing missing is an "Enhanced Interrogation" class! Just ignore the fact that it’s probably a secret CIA recruitment program.
7. Parkour Camp
Where:American Parkour - Washington, D. C. Cost: $449.00 Camp life: Parkour, or freerunning, is the art of turning your surroundings into your personal action movie set. If you know how to pull it off, you look like you belong in the next Bond movie. If you don't, you look like you belong in the drunk tank. It's something you need to learn early, which is why American Parkour takes kids as young as six and teaches them how to jump their way through a parkour gym before taking it to the streets. And then those kids will go home and play the most amazing games of tag ever.
8. Paintball Camp
Where:Pev's Paintball Park - Aldie, VA Cost: $460.00 Camp life: Listen up, summer camp coordinators. Kids don't want to sit around a fire and sing Kumbaya. That just won't get the angst out. That's why paintball camp is such an awesome idea. Instead of suppressing the rage in ways that will only haunt them later, kids are encouraged to fine-tune those qualities, learning to defeat one another in strategical simulated combat. This isn't just a "run around the course for hours" program. Campers are taught how to use their environment to destroy their opponents. Your water gun fights look pretty lame by comparison now, don't they?
9. Zombie Survival Camp
Where:Zombie Summer Camp - Burlington, MA Cost: $1,270.00 Camp life: If The Walking Dead ever becomes reality, no kid wants to be a Carl. At Zombie Summer Camp, campers are equipped with foam swords, NERF guns, and their own monstrous instincts, as they create teams, make costumes, and prepare to take on hordes of the undead. It’s an original way for a young person to learn about the values of cooperation and survival in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
10. Stunt Double Camp
Where:Pali Adventures - Running Springs, CA Cost: $6,200.00 for full four week session Camp life: If the success of the jungle gym industry is any indicator, kids love jumping off things. Pali Adventures' Hollywood Stunt Camp teaches them to do so professionally. Along with learning how to fall from heights without winding up in a cast, campers are taught to choreograph a fight scene, handle a sword, and make all the adults in their life jealous. Just look at what they get to do. It's not fair.
Joe Olivetois a staff writer at Supercompressor who suddenly doesn't like kids anymore. Follow him on Twitter.