Not all camps are just for kids

Baseball fantasy camp? Rock 'n' roll camp? Ballroom dance camp?

Oh, man up. If you're an adventurous guy looking for a summer camp, you need to check out the Arizona Cowboy College.

Cubicle jockeys can learn cowboy skills at one of the weeklong sessions held in September, October and November ($2,250). The days are packed with riding, roping, horseshoeing and more riding. Students also learn about ranch operation, cattle breeds, cattle diseases, shipping, pasture rotation and more.

Yes, there are bunkhouses.

"We've been at it since 1986," said Lori Bridwell, who runs the camp. "Most of the people who sign up, 80 percent, come just once. But we do have people who come back. Some come back several times. We had a guy come three times last year alone. He's from New Jersey."

The first two days are spent at Lorill Equestrian Center in Scottsdale; then the scene shifts to a working cattle ranch (the location varies by session). The Cowboy College provides horses, saddles and gear, though students can bring their own, provided they meet the camp's safety standards. And how many schools include a cowboy hat, chaps and a harmonica on the list of items for students to bring. Eat prairie dust, Harvard.

This is not a week for wimps. Warns the website: "This is very hard work and can be very dangerous to both you and your mount. You must be in good health. If you are injured, help is very far away. However, we do carry a cellular phone for major emergencies."

Further details are at

Of course, not everyone gets excited about saddle sores. There are other specialized adult-oriented camps to choose from:


The weeklong Surf Diva Surf School in La Jolla Shores, Calif., is for women 18 and over at all skill levels. A pink bus takes campers to the beach for twice-daily surf lessons. The overnight camp session is scheduled for July 10-16; cost is $1,485.

Zingerman's Camp Bacon

Technically, this isn't a camp, as in pack-a-suitcase-we're-going-to-camp camp. But it does have "camp" in its name, it benefits a worthy cause (the Southern Foodway Alliance) and it's about bacon. The maple kind? All kinds. Scheduled for June 30-July 3 in Ann Arbor, Mich., it features a bacon-centric dinner, a benefit show (Andre Williams and the Goldstars with special guest Jon Langford & Skull Orchard), a bacon street fair and a daylong bacon blowout ($195 a ticket) at the legendary Zingerman's Roadhouse. Mouth-watering details at

Madison Iron Distance Camp

If you're competing in the Ironman distance race Sept. 11 in Madison, Wis., this weekend camp (Aug. 11-14 in Madison) serves as a solid tuneup. Troy Jacobson and his National Triathlon Academy associate coaches help athletes preview both the bike and running courses for the event. The $395 fee includes a goodie bag, cycling jersey, T-shirt, coaching, lectures and a group dinner (transportation and lodging not included).

In-line skating

Polish up your in-line skating skills at Zephyr's inn-based tour Aug. 3-7 in Minnesota. The state has miles of paved trails for cyclists and skaters, and Zephyr's five-day tour takes participants through urban parks, over prairies, and into small towns and large cities. The camp is aimed at beginners and advanced beginners and is priced at $1,600. Details at

Vashon Island Sewing Retreat

Set for Sept. 25-28 on Vashon Island in Washington, this "sewing vacation" offers lessons and camaraderie (sadly, no mention of harmonicas or cowboy hats on the website). The retreat is sponsored by the nonprofit Stitching Girls Society, which aims to further the art of sewing. The $420 price includes classes, meals and cabin lodging at scenic Camp Burton. (There's a discount for society members.)

Camp Unleashed

No longer does little Scrumpy have to sit in a kennel, sad and lonely, while you are off frittering away his inheritance by galloping across the desert, sewing or eating bacon at exotic summer camps. Camp Unleashed, Sept. 22-25 in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, is designed for dog owners and their pets to enjoy together. There are activities, presentations and workshops. Costs range from $799 to $999, depending on accommodations.

Banjo camp

Pick and grin at the Sonny Osborne Banjo Camp, featuring some of Nashville's top musicians. The Oct. 21-23 camp, in its 11th year, offers small workshops, large group sessions, elective classes and jam sessions, and welcomes high beginners to advanced students. (Need more? A weeklong bluegrass and songwriting camp in August has a few slots left for day campers, but you'll need to find an off-site place to stay.) The toe-tapping details are at

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