Summer camps cater to adults, too

Post-Bulletin

© By Heather J. Carlson
Published: May 30, 2008

Analyzing a crime scene for possible clues. Jamming on stage in a rock 'n'
roll band. Digging for undiscovered treasurers of the past.

These are just some of the activities being offered to campers this summer.
But they are not for kids. They are for adults.

While many traditionally associate camp with childhood, the interest among grown-ups to return to camp has steadily grown, said Nancy LaPook Diamond, president of NicheDirectories.com, which publishes the Web site GrownUpCamps.com. When her company launched a Web site dedicated to camps for kids in 1995, she said it soon became clear adults wanted to find their own camps.

"We immediately recognized the desire of the parents to attend camp. They said 'Oh, we wish there was a directory like this for us,'" she said.

The site now boasts more than 6,000 camps around the world targeted for grownups.

Always wanted to be an astronaut? Check out Aviation Challenge in Huntsville, Ala., where adults get to staff a simulated spaceship mission.
Missed your calling as a marine biologist? The Dolphin Research Center Adult Dolphin Lab lets grown-ups splash and play with the aquatic mammals.

There are also plenty of adult camp opportunities closer to home.

On a recent weekday afternoon, a small group of women armed with cameras scoured a wooded trail for colorful wildflowers. They were among 175 women taking part in the Women in the Outdoors weekend camp at Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center in Lanesboro. The camp, organized by the National Wild Turkey Federation, gives women a chance to spend a weekend in nature trying out a wide range of activities, including rifle shooting, canoeing and even beekeeping.

Nicole Widenstrom from Harris, Minn., was among the women crouching alongside a trail as part of the wildflower photography class. The mother of three said she heard about the weekend getaway from a neighbor and thought it sounded like a great opportunity to be outdoors and meet new people.

"I finally thought I needed to do something for myself," Widenstrom said.

There are plenty of other options in Minnesota, including a chance to study a new language at Concordia Language Village in Bemidji, and sail boat instruction at the North American Sailing School in Grand Marais. For hockey lovers, Heartland Hockey Camp in Deerwood offers a one-week class for men and women to hone their ice skills under the guidance of current and former professionals and coaches. A week of hockey training costs $975, including lodging and food.

Camp owner Steve Jensen, who played for the NHL Minnesota North Stars, founded the camp 24 years ago. He said he began offering adult camps 18 years ago at his 80-acre lakeside resort. His camp now draws beginner, intermediate and advanced players from across the U.S. and the world.

"We've seen a tremendous growth," Jensen said. "We went from 18 campers in our first year to 90 every summer. We're very popular. Adult hockey has really caught on -- not only in North America but all over the world."

Web links

GrownUpCamps.com
Heartland Hockey Camp