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7/28/06

Adult fantasy camps: living the dream for a day, a week or more!

Fantasy camps and schools that allow travelers to “become” someone else — an astronaut, a cowboy, race car driver, rock 'n roll band member or big-league sports player, at least for a time, are increasingly popular. Some come with a dream price tag, but many are well within the budgets of most travelers who’ve got vacation time and a longing for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Want an overview of what’s available? Search GrownUpCamps.com by category and then by location or check out the offerings at Incredible Adventures.

What to Expect at Sports Camps
Some camps put the primary focus on real-life training (complete with cutting critiques) and game participation. But many also go all out to provide the “extras” that fans love: events and meals that allow for one-on-one socializing with the big name trainers and players; special behind-the-scene tours; autograph and picture-taking sessions; videos; awards; uniforms; personalized souvenirs and much more.

If You Want to Shoot Hoops With the Legends…

·  2006 Michael Jordan Flight School: You’ll meet Michael and get instruction from the best active and former coaches including Hubie Brown, Jim Calhoun, Tubby Smith and more during sessions from August 19 to 22 at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Given the lofty price tag, expect to work out with some upscale basketball fanatics at what many consider to be the ultimate basketball fantasy experience.

·  Rick Barry Basketball Fantasy Camp, September 29 – October 1, 2006: A more affordable option for hoopsters who are “growing older but refuse to grow up.” Sessions are scheduled to be held in Sonoma, California.

·  NBA All-Star Game Fantasy Camp, February, 2007, Las Vegas: Play with NBA legends such as Darryl Dawkins, Michael Ray Richardson, Norm Nixon and Artis Gilmore.

If You’re a Football Fan Who Needs a Post-Season Fix…
Devotees will want to plan ahead for the 2007 Steelers’ Men’s Fantasy Campin Pittsburgh. For one guy’s take on the fun, read rookie Kevin McDevitt’s overview of the 2006 gathering. (“Jerome Bettis is in the house and 260 grown men act like 16-year-old girls at a Beatles concert.”) The weekend-long event includes a tour of Heinz Field and a training camp where attendees punt and pass and mix and mingle with team coaches who provide feedback.

If You Want to Suit Up and Play on Your Own Field of Dreams…
Many major-league teams offer camps in January or February each year, prior to the start of the season, in temperate locations such as Florida and Arizona.

·  The Boston Red Sox Fantasy Camp, February 3 to 11, 2007, in Fort Myers, Florida, includes daily games on major league spring training fields and a game in the stadium against the pros.

·  Can’t wait till next year? The Los Angeles Dodgers Adult Baseball Fantasy Camp is set for November 5 – 11 in Vero Beach, Florida.

·  Looking for global action? Check out international baseball trips.

If You’ve Always Wanted to Say ‘I’m with the band…’
Who hasn’t day-dreamed about singing or playing with their favorite band? Rock ‘n Roll fantasy camps let amateurs of all skill levels participate in a week of living the rock-star life, complete with small-group practice and jam sessions with celebrity musicians (The Who’s Roger Daltrey and members of the Cars, Journey, Guns n’ Roses, Kiss and Slaughter have participated in the past.). In addition to instruction, there are music business and Pro Audio classes that offer an insiders’ view of the industry and the recording process. The next camp is set for August 13 – 17 in New York City.

Country music lovers who prefer writing music to performing can opt for Nash Camp’s Songwriting Week in the music capital of Nashville.

If You Want to Ride the Waves…

Adventure Out adult surf camp offers four-day programs with very personal instruction (four students per instructor) in Pacifica, California. There are also one- and two-day clinics.

If You Feel the Need for Speed…In the Air

·  The “Top Gun” experience is a true Tinseltown adrenaline adventure with a twist: You’ll star in your own video. The cameras will literally be on you as you recreate your own version of the movie and prep for and complete a flight in an L-39 jet fighter.

·  You can test your in-flight combat skills in four air combat adventures. The fights are conducted using a variety of aircraft, including the Extra 300L (Desert Dogfights) and a T-34 A Mentor.(Colorado Sky-Fighters)

Or on the Ground…

·  You can drive an authentic Nextel Cup car on the same super speedways as the pros at the Jeff Gordon racing school. The school has an extensive schedule, so you can race almost year-round at different roadways, including the Atlanta Motor Speedway (November) or Homestead Miami Speedway (December).

·  The Richard Petty Driving Experience will put you in the driver’s seat (or riding shotgun with a professional) for a spin at up to 150mph. The one-day camps are available at many U.S. NASCAR auto racing tracks during the year.

If You Want to Live Out Your Space-Travel Fantasies…

·  Astronaut wannabes or those who are intrigued by space exploration can do almost everything except actually fly on an actual space shuttle at SpaceCamp.com, which includes camps that allow both parents and children to participate. There are 6- or 13-day advanced space academy sessions that let you select which “track” you’d like to study. Attendees can sign on for astronaut training, Space Shuttle mission preparation and other hands-on instruction. There are also IMAX® movies, training simulators (like the 1/6th Gravity Trainer that simulates walking on the moon), rocket building and launches, scientific experiments and lectures on the past, present and future of space exploration.

If You Want to Ride a Bull, Join the Rodeo or Be a Cowboy/Cowgirl…

·  You’ll learn how to “Move 'em on, head 'em up, head 'em up, move 'em out” at the Epic Trails Cattle Drive fantasy camp in Montana. It’s a true working ranch experience that attracts a lot of “city slickers”. Participants learn how to lasso, trail and drive cattle — and do some cutting, branding, barrel racing and roping — during their stay.

·  If watching professional bull riders attempt those eight-second rides has inspired you to saddle up, check out Sankey Rodeo School’s offerings. In addition to training drills (on "Mighty Bucky"—the only training unit endorsed by the PBR), you’ll ride bucking stock that’s matched to your age, experience, athletic ability and goals. The school also provides professional rodeo equipment.

·  Participants in Cowgirl 101 (offered by the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame) spend a day at Colbert Ranch in Bertram, Texas, learning cowgirl skills such as roping, horse saddling, tying and even shaping a cowboy hat.

If You Need Help Knowing When to Hold, or Fold…
The World Poker Tour offers year-round, two-day boot camps in casinos in Las Vegas and other U.S. locations and on a Royal Caribbean cruise. Includes instruction by pros T.J. Cloutier and Chip Jett (and others) and live tournament play.