There’s a timeless quality to summer camp that conjures up images of campfires, kayaking, singalongs, and competing in a three-legged race. However, for thousands of kids each year, camp takes on a much more focused (and often expensive) meaning.
These camps are some of the most ridiculously niche, ludicrously costly, or downright unusual places to send the kids for the summer. So cash in that 401k early and offer your children a spot in one of these exclusive destinations.
Global Fellows in Social Enterprise
Location: New York
Run in partnership with NYU, the Global Fellows in Social Enterprise is a high priced six-week summer camp targeting children from “high net worth families.” Coursework includes a business plan competition, internships with social enterprise non-profits, and “the most exquisite weekend get-a-ways.”
The program, which launched this June, was high profile enough to garner attention from the Wall Street Journal in an article titled Richie Rich Could’ve Used This Camp.
Just think of the networking opportunities for your kids.
Not all children can be the movers and shakers of tomorrow. Some of them are destined to be international men (and women) of mystery. Spy Camp, a subsection of Camp Lohikan, offers an intense curriculum of martial arts training, code breaking, surveillance techniques, and undercover maneuvers.
By the time your kid has been through this rigorous training regimen, they’ll be well versed in international espionage… or at the very least they’ll be pretty decent with a pair of binoculars.
Location: New York
Specializing in young performers (age 10 – 18), Stagedoor Manor offers an immersive performing arts program. And, lest you write it off as a summer camp designed to prey on the Toddlers and Tiaras stage mom set, the program boasts an impressive group of alumni that includes Robert Downey Jr., Natalie Portman, and Jon Cryer. Directors, choreographers, and vocal coaches work with each of the campers to cultivate their talents.
If your kid comes home from this and still can’t get cast in the school play, at least you’ll know they just don’t have what it takes.
Weissman Teen Tours – Europe
Cost: $8,099 - $11,699
Location: Multiple Locations Throughout Europe
Any schmo with a passport can backpack through Europe, but only the lucky few get to travel the continent staying in first class accommodations all the way. The Weissman Teen Tours trip through Europe includes stays at nothing but the finest four- and five-star hotels, while incorporating a mix of outdoor-oriented and culturally themed activities.
What better way to have your child spend the summer than by sending them on your dream vacation without you?
Cost: $4,600 - $6,700
Location: New Hampshire
Founded in 1903, Camp Tecumseh’s old-timey and somewhat ambiguous mission is to “make good boys better.” Covering 300 acres, including two miles along New England’s Lake Winnipesaukee, Camp Tecumseh offers a variety of activities including archery, sailing, and mountain trips.
Although the camp is famous for its athletics, it also includes a drama program for the less physically inclined campers.
Location: Cambridge and London, England
College prep is no joke, and Summer Discovery camp offers high schoolers an opportunity to immerse themselves in British culture and academics while simultaneously undergoing SAT or ACT Prep courses. The program spends three weeks at Cambridge and one week in London, where students “can sip tea in the park, enjoy an outdoor play or concert, join a college walking tour, row with friends, and visit one of many historic landmarks.”
Plus, by sending your kid off to Jolly Old you’ll be shipping them all the way across the Atlantic without having to invest in one of those expensive Rosetta Stone sets.
Equestrian Teen Tour of Russia
Location: Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia
Seamlessly blending two highfalutin activities, the Equestrian Teen Tour of Russia mixes equestrianism with the exploration of classic Russian culture. The trip includes accommodations at a four-star resort, horseback riding in the mornings, and cultural tours of museums and various historic sites.
The price tag may seem a bit steep, but unlike many of the other summer camps abroad, this one does include roundtrip airfare from NYC.
China: Ancient Empires to Modern Wonder
Cost: $5.399 + Airfare
One of the only summer camps where you get to mingle with real life pandas, this program through 360 Student Travel offers children “an epic adventure in one of the world's fastest growing modern wonders.” In addition to spending twenty-five days experiencing China’s culture and history, students will have the once in a lifetime opportunity to help feed and care for some of the local pandas.
Oh yeah, and apparently there’s a really big wall at some point on the tour.
Cost: $800 (one week) - $6,700 (nine weeks)
In addition to having what might just be the coolest name of any summer camp ever, Camp Winnarainbow is one of the few circus camps around. Kids who come to camp here learn circus essentials like how to walk on stilts, ride a unicycle, juggle, and even trapeze.
It might not get them ready for Cirque du Soleil, but at least they’ll have all the skills necessary for a career as a street performer.
Fiji Shark Studies
Cost: $5,480 + Airfare
The only thing cooler than hanging out with (and feeding pandas) is diving with the sharks. The Fiji Shark Studies program offers kids a chance to perform multiple dives, collect data for the Shark Foundation Database, and collect some college credit and community service to boot. The program does require that attendees already have a scuba certification, but beyond that, any high school student over fifteen is welcome to apply.
Most people know Fiji as a tropical paradise, but you can think of it as a place to send your children to swim with sharks.
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