Spend your next vacation living out a long-held dream. Play doubles with Chris Evert, jam with Brian Wilson from The Beach Boys, or experience what it’s like to walk on the moon in a gravity trainer.
Lasting from a day to a week or more, fantasy camps cater to those who want to quickly build skills and learn about a favorite topic, meet like-minded people, or get inspired by a personal hero. The prices can be steep, but some camps raise money for charity (like the Cleveland Indians and Yankees camps). In that case, a portion of your fee may be tax deductible. Also, many camps allow you to bring a guest (usually for an additional fee) to cheer you on at games or performances.
Here’s our guide to some fantasy camps for grown-ups.
ENTERTAINMENT AND MUSIC CAMPS
Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp
Aspiring rock musicians and singers jam, rehearse, and receive instruction from rock star "counselors" Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, Alan White of Yes, Nick Mason of Pink Floyd, Simon Kirke of Bad Company, and other notables. Campers are assigned to a band and spend 10-12 hours a day practicing. Then they write and record an original song in a studio. On the final night, the bands perform live onstage at a concert venue, such as the House of Blues in Los Angeles or the B.B. King Blues Club in New York City. Camps are held in Los Angeles, New York, London, and other cities. Prices are anywhere from $1,999 for a one-day camp to $12,999 for the six-day London camp (meals are included but accommodations are not). http://www.rockcamp.com
Hollywood TV-Star Fantasy Camp
At this six-day camp in Los Angeles, you’ll live the life of a television star, with a role in a crime drama shot on a real soundstage, and return home with a DVD of your performance. You’ll learn Broadway acting exercises, get feedback from a director, and enjoy your own dressing room, makeup artist, and photo shoot. $12,733 (includes accommodations). http://hollywoodtvstarfantasycamp.com/
At this two-day Atlanta camp, musicians of all levels learn from and perform onstage with rockers like Jeff Carlisi of .38 Special and Ricky Byrd of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. $1,800 (accommodations are not included).
Tritone Jazz Fantasy Camps
Held in Utah, New York, and Wisconsin, these five-day camps are for jazz musicians and singers of all levels. Instructors, who are professional musicians like guitarist Gene Bertoncini (who performed with the Benny Goodman and NBC Tonight Show orchestras), offer master classes and lectures on jazz history. Campers practice playing in small combos and in big bands and then perform concerts in the evenings. From $745-$1,500 (some packages are tuition-only and some include accommodation and/or meals).http://tritonejazz.com
Architecture Fantasy Camp
Yes, there actually is anarchitecture fantasy camp, at a site once inhabited by the preeminent icon of the field. At the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park, Ill., you can take a four-day workshop (comprised of a two-and-a-half hour session each day) on basic drafting techniques. You can create floor plans suitable for framing. The classes, taught by architects, take place in Wright’s studio, where he developed his signature Prairie Style architecture. Call for pricing; accommodations, meals not included. 708-848-1976 ext. 227; http://www.gowright.org/
World Poker Tour Boot Camp
At this two-day boot camp, poker players of all levels receive instruction from successful pro players and learn to understand "tells" and "reads" so they can improve their games. Campers also play in a multi-table tournament and can win prizes. Boot camps are held in various locations, including Commerce, Calif., Las Vegas, Biloxi, Miss., Verona, N.Y., Mashantucket, Conn., and Pendleton, Ore.. Two-Day Boot Camps are $1,695 and $1,895; A three-day Champions event, for more advanced players, is $2,995 (accommodations not included, but most meals are included); http://www.wptbootcamp.com
Wine Boot Camp
The "Affairs of the Vine" camp aims to make you a wine expert in a day. You’ll visit two wineries, work in a vineyard (where you will, for example, harvest grapes or prune vines), attend a food-and-wine pairing workshop, and blend your own wine. Boot camps are held in California’s Napa Valley, Paso Robles, and on the Sonoma Coast. $475 for a 12-hour day (meals and transportation from the meeting site are included, but not accommodations). http://www.affairsofthevine.com/
DRIVING AND RACING
Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School
Two-time world-champion drag racer, Frank Hawley’s, school offers popular "Super Comp" and "Super Gas" courses covering the basic techniques of drag racing. Classes—many taught by Hawley himself--include formal instruction and progressively faster runs in a dragster, and they’re held in various locations, including Gainesville, Fla., Houston, Denver, Colo., Norwalk, Ohio, and Richmond, Va. Two-day courses start at $1,795 (accommodations and meals not included). http://www.frankhawley.com
Mario Andretti Fantasy Day
At the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, you can meet Mario Andretti and ride in an Indy-style race car driven by racing legend. Optional add-ons include: taking a class and then driving eight laps around the speedway in the Indy-style car, or driving a race-prepped BMW Z3 for a 15-minute session around a road course. Prices go from $999 to $4,099 (accommodations not included, but snacks and beverages are included). http://www.andrettigordon.com/fantasy
More Driving Schools and Experiences:
Sports Car Driving Experience: http://www.sportscardrivingexperience.com/
Richard Petty Driving Experience: http://www.1800bepetty.com/home.aspx
Skip Barber Racing Schools and Driving Schools: http://www.skipbarber.com/
AVIATION AND SPACE
At this astronaut-adventure camp in Huntsville, Ala., you can attend briefings on aeronautics and aviation, train in jet-fighter simulators, and participate in simulated space shuttle missions. See what a rocket launch feels like when you blast off in the "Space Shot" simulator--a sort of amusement park ride on steroids. It will launch you 140 feet in 2.5 seconds, and you’ll feel four times the force of Earth’s gravity (and experience a few seconds of weightlessness).The cost of the programs ranges from $449 to $999 (accommodations and meals are included). http://www.spacecamp.com
Incredible Adventures offers aviation-fantasy experiences in the U.S. and around the world (and most don’t require flying experience or a pilot’s license). The company offers to send you flying with fighter pilots. You can even engage in aerial dogfights (this is available at specific locations, including Orlando, Fla., and Chicago), take the controls of a historic warbird from WWII, and perform loops and rolls in Orlando, Fla. And if you’ve ever wanted to fly a supersonic MiG-29 fighter jet in Moscow, this is your chance. Prices range from $665 to $23,000 and up, and locations vary. Some adventures include meals and accommodations. http://www.incredible-adventures.com
New York Yankees Fantasy Camp
Several of these weeklong camps are offered each year in Tampa, Fla. Play eight games, including doubleheaders, and in a dream game against the pros. Receive professional training, too: Former Yankees players who have attended include Neil Allen, Johnny Blanchard, Ken Griffey Sr., and many others. The tag is $5,500 (includes accommodations and most meals).http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com/nyy/fan_forum/fantasycamp.jsp
Red Sox Fantasy Camp
Join in a game with Red Sox Alumni like Bill Lee and Jim Corsi during this eight-day camp at the team’s spring-training facility in Ft. Myers, Fla. $4,195 (includes accommodations). http://boston.redsox.mlb.com/bos/fan_forum/fantasycamp.jsp
For the female fans, women are welcome at both camps.
More baseball camps:
San Francisco Giants Fantasy Camp: http://mlb.mlb.com/sf/fan_forum/fantasycamp.jsp
Ripken Baseball Fantasy Camp: http://www.ripkencamps.com/campcalendar.cfm?CampKey=97
Baltimore Orioles Fantasy Camp: http://baltimore.orioles.mlb.com/bal/fan_forum/fantasycamp.jsp
NY Mets Fantasy Camp :http://newyork.mets.mlb.com/nym/fan_forum/fantasycamp.jsp
Michael Jordan Senior Flight School
Play basketball (and attend Q-and-As and a cocktail reception) with M.J. at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Basketball Hall-of-Fame coaches share their knowledge during drills and contests that test such skills as free-throw shooting. This three-and–a-half-day camp costs $17,500 (accommodations and some meals are included).http://www.mjflightschool.com/message.asp
More basketball camps:
Bill Russell and his Legendary Friends Basketball Camp: http://www.friendsofbillrussell.com
The College Basketball Experience Flashback Basketball: http://www.flashbackcamps.com/cbe/index.htm
Rick Barry Basketball Fantasy Camp: http://www.uofs.com/Camps/rbfc.html
Chris Evert Fantasy Camp
You can join Chris Evert on the courts at the Boca Raton Resort & Club in Florida at this three-day camp. You’ll receive instruction from her and her brother, John. The camp also includes a round-robin doubles tournament with Chris, cocktails and dinner with her, and a 50-minute spa treatment. $7,200 (includes three nights’ accommodations and some meals). http://www.evertacademy.com/textpage.php?MenuID=15
Tennis Fantasies with John Newcombe & the Legends
Practice with tennis great John Newcombe and other pros at this ranch in the Texas Hill Country. From $1,470 for a four-day program and $4,945 for a six-day program (includes accommodations and meals). http://www.tennisfantasies.net/
Notre Dame Football Fantasy Camp
At this five-day camp in South Bend, Ind., you’ll get daily coaching from former Fighting Irish players and current staff. Play a 60-minute flag-football game in the stadium with an announcer, scoreboard, and officials, and hear a presentation by head coach, Charlie Weis. From $5,340 (alumni pay less; price includes accommodations and meals). http://www.ndfootballfantasycamp.com/.
More football camps:
Penn State: http://www.pennstatefantasycamp.com/
USC Trojans Flashback Football: http://www.flashbackcamps.com/usc/
PGA Tour Experience – Platinum
Experience a day in the life of a PGA-tour professional on the golf course at TPC Sawgrass Resort, where you’ll compete with other players on the tour. At the resort, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., you’ll have your own caddie and access to the VIP areas of the clubhouse and locker room. Cost is $1,295-$1,615 for one round of golf and one night’s accommodations and one meal). http://www.pgatourexperiences.com/platinum.asp
Rosie Jones Golf Getaways:
One of the most successful players of the Ladies Professional Golf Association, Jones will coach you on your swing and putting during these three-to-seven-day golf vacations for women. Choose from various locations, including California and Scotland, from $4,500 (includes accommodations and meals).http://www.rosiejones.com/golf-getaways/
More sports camps to explore:
Wayne Gretzky Hockey Fantasy Camp:http://www.gretzky.com/main/?#/foundation/fantasycamp/.
USA Luge Fantasy Camp:http://www.usaluge.org/tryluge/fantasycamp.php.
Los Angeles Galaxy Soccer Fantasy Camp:http://web.mlsnet.com/t106/fans/events/adult_fantasy_camp.
Popular fantasy camps often sell out months in advance (and some are held just once a year), so it’s a good idea to register early. Also note that prices listed here reflect 2008 and are subject to change. Happy camping!