Saturday, July 14, 2012

Retirement Pleasures — Summer Camp for Seniors

Ah! Summer! The time when many children head off to sleep away camps, providing their parents with a much-needed break from the stress of family life. It turns out camp is no longer just for children. Today’s New York Times had an article on band camp for grownups.

Reporter Daniel Wakin spent a week at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Academy, “ a kind of fantasy camp.” Over 100 amateur musicians shelled out close to $2,000 each for the weeklong BSO Academy and the privilege of playing side by side with the professionals. Wakin writes: “We felt their physical pain, self-doubt and, once in a while, supreme confidence.” The pros, in turn, fed off the joy and enthusiasm of the campers. According to one orchestra member: “I just can’t tell you how contagious that is.”

Contagion not withstanding, this got me thinking about summer camp opportunities for seniors. After considerable research, I’ve unearthed a half dozen of these. I’m confident at least one will be the perfect “fantasy camp” for you.

Gardening for Maximum Output
This camp has become popular with seniors who are especially interested in how gardening can reduce their weekly grocery expenditures. Topics covered in this weeklong camp are:
·      Environmentally friendly pest control (covers insect pests and small animals only)
·      Keeping your neighbors from stealing your produce in the dead of night
·      How to effectively pull weeds without needing a prescription-level dose of ibuprofen for your back after you’re done
·      Tips and tricks for making your arthritic knees work for you, not against you

Water Activities Camp
Gitchee Ya Ya is a two-week camp, situated on the shores of a quiet lake in New Hampshire. Because of an increase in water-borne diseases, you’re required to get immunization shots before the camp will accept your deposit. Here’s some of what you’ll learn:
·      Synchronized swimming for the hearing impaired
·      How to angle an oversized-butt into a water slide trough
·      Relaxing through canoeing (not available to those with poor peripheral vision)
·      Using the fat in your midsection as your own flotation device

Olympic Hopeful Training Camp
Spend two weeks getting your body in as competitive shape as is realistic at your age. Former Olympians will be your instructors as you hone your skills. Unfortunately, you do not get to pick your sport. You are guaranteed to lose at least ten pounds, or your fee is refunded (proportionate to the promised weight not lost…) Some sports you might be assigned:
·      Rhythmic gymnastics (those with two left feet will be exempt)
·      Archery (not to worry—arrows have rubber suction tips)
·      Wrestling (on an extra-thick mat or an under-filled water bed)
·      Beach volleyball (as a public service, you will not wear those teeny bathing suits)

Vicarious Grandparents Camp
This novel day camp was conceived especially for seniors who have never experienced the joy of being actual grandparents. Parents drop off their youngsters (ages 1 to 12) at 8 am and pick them up no later than 8 pm. Seniors looking for the grandparenting experience serve as live-in camp counselors. An especially attractive aspect of Camp Granny Gimme is that the seniors are paid to attend. Some of what you’ll be taught:
·      How to tell if they need a diaper change under those wet bathing suits
·      Learning to say “no,” and then to say “no” again, and yet again
·      Ten ways to get toddlers to burn off their energy while you sit in a rocker
·      Effective negotiating with pre-teens who speak a totally different language

Arthritic Fingers Pottery Studio
If you’ve always wanted to throw a pot (on a potter’s wheel—not at your spouse), this is the camp for you. Spend just one weekend at Harriet’s Pottery for Gnarled Fingers and master the basics of kiln-fired treasures. Items you’ll make during your stay:
·      Generously sized cereal bowls, perfect for fiber-rich oatmeal
·      Two-handled mugs; if you set them down wrong, no need to turn them around
·      Attractive urns to hold the cremains of your beloved pets

Theatrical Creativity Camp
If the acting bug has been nibbling at you, bite back. This weeklong studio prepares you for roles in regional theater productions. For those who love the smell of greasepaint, but are too timid to face the roar of the crowd, backstage training is also available. Choose from:
·      Performing on stage (bit parts on daytime TV dramas provided unless shows are canceled)
·      Superhero costume design (learn to use ballpoint needles on spandex)
·      Set decoration (ladders involved; not for those with poor balance)
·      Hair and makeup (learn to use extensions and to hide tattoos and body piercings)

So many fabulous camps! So little time! What are you waiting for? Sign up today.

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