Happy Camper: 10 unique camps and classes in the South

If your interests fall a bit outside the mainstream, these one-of-a-kind camps and classes will let you try quirky activities or live out your wildest dreams.

Ghost Hunt Weekends
Be a ghostbuster for a night at the Thomas House Hotel in Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee. Discern disembodied voices, moving mattresses, and cold spots at the secluded inn built in 1890. Paranormal expert Chad Morin teaches guests about the hotel’s history of murders, fires, and cults and shares how to spot spirits during the all-night hunt hosted one night a month. $99, ghosthuntweekends.com

Sirens of the Deep Mermaid Camp
Mermaids are more than myths in Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs, where they put on a daily synchronized swimming show. Discover what life is like under the sea at this weekend workshop, which includes instruction in water ballet moves worthy of Esther Williams, behind-the-scenes tours, and plenty of photo ops in a Lycra tail. Camp is in session several weekends between April and September. $450, weekiwachee.com


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Georgia Sea Turtle Center’s Ride with the Night Patrol
Become a marine biologist for a night on Jekyll Island and patrol the beaches for nesting sea turtles. During June and July, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center invites visitors to ride along and help take habitat measurements, count eggs, and collect other important conservation data for this endangered species. $100, gstc.jekyllisland.com

Triangle Circus Arts
While you may not be able to run off and join the circus, you can get your big-top fix at these high-flying classes in Durham, North Carolina. Swing by for a two-hour weekday or Saturday workshop on circus skills like trapeze flying, juggling, Chinese-pole swinging, and partner acrobatics. $30/person, trianglecircusarts.com

WB Surf Camp
From paddling out to spotting the best wave, this surf camp will teach a would-be rider all the skills needed to shoot the curl. The warm, emerald-green waters of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, and three-to-one student-to-instructor ratio ensure you’ll be ripping waves in no time. Five-day camps take place weekly June through August. $349, wbsurfcamp.com


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Camp Unleashed Blue Ridge
At this BYOD (bring your own dog) camp in Blue Ridge, Georgia, teach Fido new tricks, take nature hikes, play scent games, go for a swim, or hop in a canoe together. Owners may also sign up for classes on grooming and canine massage, pup-photography tutorials, and lessons in “Dog-lish” as a second language. Unleash October 11–14. Starting at $799, campunleashed.com

Adult Space Academy
If you missed out on Space Camp as a kid, don’t go crying in your freeze-dried ice cream. Enroll in Adult Space Academy in Huntsville, Alabama, for out-of-this-world action. The three-day experience (which takes place year-round) covers all aspects of astronaut life, from constructing a heat shield to riding in a multi-axis trainer that simulates a tumble spin. At the end, complete a simulated mission with you crew. $549, spacecamp.com


Photograph courtesy of Bigstock

Sankey Rodeo School
Let your inner cowgirl go buck wild. Take the bull by the horns in classes on bull, bronco, and bareback riding, or if you’re seeing red, try your hand at bullfighting. No spurs required because all equipment, as well as personalized coaching, is provided at these four-day classes, which run year-round. The school has locations in Summerville, Georgia, Martin, Tennessee, and Zolfo Springs, Florida. $440, sankeyrodeo.com

Camp No Counselors
This Nashville-area three-night summer camp for adults combines all the best parts of the sleepaway experience—s’mores, capture the flag, and talent shows—with grown-up fun. Spend the days engaging in traditional camp activities like archery and crafts, and party through the nights at costumed bashes featuring an open bar and live DJ or bands. Camps are scheduled for September 13–16 and 20–23. Starting at $575, campnocounselors.com

Ancient Art of Falconry
Learn the history and how-to of the centuries-old sport at a four-hour class in falconry at Historic Banning Mills in Whitesburg, Georgia. Held throughout the year, the session teaches participants to handle, train, and fly Eurasian eagle-owls and Barbary, lanner, and saker falcons. $300/four participants, historicbanningmills.com

This article appears in our Spring/Summer 2018 issue of Southbound.