By Ariel Glickman 06.19.2012 blog

Less-than-traditional camps are all the rage this summer. As teens continue to narrow their interests (you have to stand out on a college application somehow!) the summer camp market is following suit. Campers are immersing themselves in programs where they can perfect certain skills. For example, The Civil Savvy Camp for Children in Charleston, South Carolina offers kids between nine and thirteen years old an “etiquette boot camp.” Attendees study silverware and learn table manners, good posture and poise among other important codes of conduct. They also take ballroom dancing, public speaking and money management classes as part of this five-day program.

Camp Lohikan in Lake Como, Pennsylvania is another such specialty camp — but this one specializes in all things Big Top. Operated as a family business in the Pocono Mountains, Lohikan is an overnight camp for kids between six and 15. Kids can choose among a variety of adventurous circus arts programs including  a flying trapeze, tightrope walking, and fire-eating, to spying, which focuses on martial arts as well as surveillance techniques and ropes courses. Other specialized programs include mountain boarding, scuba diving, skateboarding, bungee jumping and paintball. If extreme sports are not for you, you can learn hip hop dance or how to be a DJ and produce videos and radio broadcasts as part of a media arts camp.

If you?re thinking about law, there’s an academic camp for that. Business? Yes. Nursing? There?s a program for that. If you can dream it, it exists. Camps for fashion rookies, hot air balloon fans, and even Harry Potter enthusiasts are out there. Aspiring make-up artists, future Hollywood stunt people and culinary mavens can join Pali Adventures in Running Springs, California for a fun-filled summer.

This new industry is threatening the livelihood of some traditional camps, which offer a range of activities from sports to arts and crafts to drama and dance, but all things you think of as more typically “camp,” like canoeing. To meet the demand for specialty camps and combat a decline in profits, some traditional camps are now providing specialty weeks. Point Scout Camp in Ponsford, Minnesota offers a water week where participants can go jet skiing, waterskiing or kayaking. The Boys and Girls Club of Truckee Meadows, Nevada offers weeks in robotics and rocket building. At the JCamp in Palo Alto, California, enrollment in specialty camps increased by 43 percent from 2010 to 2011. But this summer, JCamp attendees can choose between 63 different specialty camps.

Are you heading to camp this summer? Is it traditional, or are you focusing on one thing during your time away?

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