As another school year comes to a close, backpacks are traded for duffels, quizzes for campfires, bedtimes for bunkmates. The kids are off to camp. But what about the grown-ups? When do Mom, Dad, and the rest of us get a chance to have some fun? While you might not be able to take the
summer off, a weekend or even a week at these adult camps can turn a vacation into a mini-adventure.
You' ll soon be sailing, hiking, and swinging your way through summer -- just like a kid again.
Don't know port from starboard? A week of sailing classes at the Boston Sailing Center will make a skipper out of you.
"Boston Harbor is a great place to learn," says head instructor Dave Carlson. "The wind, tide, traffic, and terrain ensure you learn everything you need to know."
Monday through Thursday, you'll spend mornings in the classroom learning about the techniques that you'll try out on the water in the afternoons. "It helps you remember things better," said recent student John Konvalinka of Lincoln. Friday is a victory lap of sorts, with students heading out for an all-day sail to George s Island and back.
On a recent Friday morning, six students and two instructors set out from Lewis Wharf on two J/24s with small motors, chosen because of a stormy forecast. (The class spends most of its time aboard a 27-foot Soling with a mainsail and a jib.) With a breeze out of the south at 10 knots, Rosemary Foy navigated out of the harbor on one long tack, setting a course under Long Island Bridge. Foy said she sails regularly with her family and wanted to learn techniques while the kids were still in school.
The self-employed Konvalinka gave himself the week off to refresh sailing skills he'd learned as a boy. At $795, however, sea legs don't come cheap. If you'd like to sample the wares before committing to a course, attend one of the center's many open houses for a 30-minute sail and a taste of what it's like to sail Boston Harbor.
Boston Sailing Center, the Riverboat at Lewis Wharf, Boston. 617-227-4198. bostonsailingcenter .com
Ain't no mountain high enough
If you're in search of a true backwoods camping experience, the Appalachian Mountain Club's Multi-Day Adventures (June 11-14 and June 18-21, $305) will get you back on the trail. Unlike DIY hikes where you do all the work, a trained naturalist guides two- and three-day Hut-to-Hut Alpine Wildflower Tours. In place of a misfolded map and a handful of trail mix, you'll have trailside enlightenment and a hot meal waiting for you at the end of the day.
"The hikes are geared to folks who want to learn about the world around them," says Nancy Ritger, a senior interpretive naturalist with the AMC.
Groups of 10 hike from hut to hut over two days, traveling 4 to 6 miles and learning about the ecosystem along the way. Ritger says, "It's perfect for folks who have hiked before and are looking for a new set of eyes or first-timers who want to hike with a group and learn about the mountains."
Just think of the scenery. The White Mountain's June flower bloom can rival the beauty of the fall foliage, with alpine azalea, diapensia, and Lapland rosebay turning the eastern side of Mt. Washington into a sea of white, pink, and purple flowers. Visitors stay overnight in AMC huts, where bunks and family-style breakfast and dinner are provided.
If wildflowers aren't wild enough for you, try your hand at Backcountry First Aid ( Aug. 4-5, $218). AMC staffers simulate trailside injuries ("We even use make-up for the bruises," says AMC leadership training coordinator Danny Twilley. "It's pretty realistic.") and await your diagnosis.
"It's a good idea for anyone who ventures outside consistently," says Twilley. "I'll tell people that they can make a sling out of their backpack . . . or their sleeping bag, and experienced hikers will say, 'I can't believe I didn't know that. I've been coming out here for years.' We try to make people realize what they should carry in their packs and how to use it." After classroom work and outdoor role-playing, students stay overnight at Cardigan Lodge in the Lakes Region. By the end of the weekend, they've earned their Wilderness First Aid certification through SOLO, a nationally recognized school based in Conway, N.H. Let the kids sing around the fire; you've got a summer's worth of camping to accomplish.
The Appalachian Mountain Club, 5 Joy St., Boston. 617-523-0655. outdoors.org
Make a racquet
No country-club membership? No problem, says Dave Fish, head of Harvard University's men's tennis program and creator of the Tennis Camps at Harvard.
"What we've tried to do with the camps is turn them into a club-like experience. We have a beautiful tennis facility and access to collegiate-level pros," he says. "So even if you don't have a country-club membership, you can still play great tennis."
Held on the university's 18 outdoor courts along the Charles River, the weekend includes tennis instruction and competition Friday evening, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning, totaling 12 hours.
"People don't have time as adults to devote to learning something new," says Fish. "They're too busy. So they take a weekend and dedicate the time. The idea is come as you are, and we'll teach you how to add to your game."
Doug Eng, director of adult programs, says the weekend draws 13-14 participants and a 3-to-1 student-coach ratio. The $360 price tag (about $30 an hour) also includes Dartfish video-analysis technology used by Olympians and pro athletes to tweak technique and improve play. Beginners are welcome, but future Federers should be ready to spend the day on the court.
"If you've never held a racquet before," counsels Eng, "you're going to be sore." He is quick to emphasize, however, that "it's not a boot-camp approach."
The Tennis Camps at Harvard, P .O. Box 380185, Cambridge. 617-384-7785. tenniscampsatharvard .com
Stone Meadow Golf Schools, however, are "a kind of boot camp for the golf season," says instructor George Liss. While most clubs don't run schools because they take up too much time and space on the course, Stone Meadow -- featuring a driving range, putting green, and nine-hole course -- is really "more a practice space than anything else," says Liss. The weekend clinics run Friday through Sunday with formal instruction from 9 a.m. through 1:30 p.m. No classroom time here.
"It's all outside with clubs in hand," says Liss, who will help you with your pitching, putting, chipping, and driving. After class, students can hit a bucket of balls on the driving range or play the par 3 course.
"It's a good deal -- 15 hours of intense training for $415," says Liss. "Golf is the most intricate, difficult game there is. At the same time, you can play it from 5-years-old to 95."
So why let the kids have all the fun?
Stone Meadow Golf, 675 Waltham St., Lexington. 781-863-0445. stonemeadowgolf .com