As a child, camp was the highlight of my summer. After I got over my initial anxiety about leaving home for a few weeks, I couldn't have had more fun playing croquette, learning the rules of proper etiquette, brushing up on my snowboarding technique, and, of course, getting a diamond ring at the end of it all. Wait, what? That's not how your typical summer camp experience went? Neither did mine, I assure you. For many kids, however, these ridiculously extravagant summer camps and the activities involved are much more enticing than the traditional summer camps where they just ride horses and sing "Kumbaya" all day.
These summer camps aren't your typical summer camp on purpose. They're called "niche camps," and usually draw a certain set a children, teens, or even adults each year. Although I remember making pottery, friendship bracelets, and going on the occasional hike during my time at camp (while fighting with my friends over which boy was the cutest, of course), kids who attend these camps will form memories of a different kind. With activities that most would rule out as too expensive, or only for the "best and brightest," these summer camps bring a (very) unique experience to the kids who attend. Horse rides and campfire songs may or may not be included.
1. Princess Prep Camp
With the claim that "all little girls dream of becoming a princess," Princess Prep camp in London, England is designed to give little girls the experience of a real princess. They'll receive etiquette lessons, volunteer at charities, learn how to ride a horse like a princess, visit Buckingham Palace, and more. The camp believes that the true definition of a princess is simply the "best version of yourself that you can imagine" and they're set on helping young girls achieve that goal.
2. Camp Skylemar
Camp Skylemar is an all-boy's camp that's meant to be "the way growing up is supposed to be." With a new schedule each day, a state of the arts facility, and more than 200 acres of facility in Maine including a golf course, eight tennis courts, and multiple basketball courses, the camp costs nearly $13,000 for a full season's tuition.
3. Civil Savvy Camp
A different form of "extreme", Civil Savvy Camp in Palms, South Carolina focuses purely on teaching kids proper etiquette. The five day camp for kids ages 9 through 13 teaches kids everything they need to know to go forth and conquer as politely as possible.
Everything from handshaking to the art of listening to extending and receiving invitations to making eye contact is covered in this five day rendezvous. Afternoon sessions, however, give kids a chance to blow off some steam with sessions on public speaking and even self defense.
4. Camp Waldemar
As one of Texas' oldest and most respected all-girl's camps, Camp Waldemar is the "finishing school" of summer camps and promises to help girls grow "spiritually, mentally, and physically in becoming their finest self." Sounds great, right? Although their goals are worthy ones and former campers claim they form bonds that last a lifetime, parents pay a fine penny for said friendships. A summer at Camp Waldemar costs nearly $6,000 plus a deposit of spending money for your camper during her stay.
Although campers certainly won't be sitting around making lanyards and friendship bracelets (the camp offers everything from archery to aerobics to canoeing) the price seems to rival a down payment on a house. According to an article in D Magazine, many parents signs their daughters up for the camp "in-utero" and the camp rewards their dedication, offering fourth year campers a diamond ring.
5. Stunt Double Camp
For kids with a wild side, the Hollywood Stunts portion of Pali Adventures camp near Los Angeles, California, is as close as it gets to the real deal. Kids learn (with the help of experts, of course) all about high falls, hand to hand combat, choreographing fight scenes and more.
Hollywood Stunts is only a portion of the activities offered at Pali Adventures and is meant to give kids a safe space to try incredible things. They also offer classes in flying trapeze, extreme action, secret agent, culinary, fashion and more.
6. Camp Jam
Think your kid is the next big musical star? Then they can't miss out on Camp Jam. Your kids will be taught by industry professionals how to play in a band, write songs, record in studio, play concerts and more. With locations in many major cities, your budding super star can't miss this summer camp.
7. Camp Vega
Long gone are the days of friendship bracelet making and cheer-off's to pass the time. At Camp Vega, an all-girls camp in Maine, campers can record music in a state of the arts recording studio, figure skate, sail, play tennis and receive one-on-one coaching. The camp's goal is to help empower girls to feel comfortable in their own skin, but empowerment, it turns out, isn't cheap. A season's tuition is $12,850.
8. Raquette Lake Camp
Raquette Lake Camp takes exclusivity to new heights. As one of the hardest camps to get into, Business Insiders noted the camp accepts only 10 to 12 spots for new campers each year. The camp lies on the shores of Raquette Lake in New York and has separate locations for boys and girls.
Once campers pass the extensive new-camper interview, they'll be pampered at their stay by an on-site chef and participate in lacrosse, horseback riding, archery, sailing, gymnastics and more.
9. Stagedoor Manor
If your kid has a penchant for acting, sending them to Stagedoor Manor is almost guaranteed to make them a star, or at least make them feel like one. With alumni like Natalie Portman, Robert Downy Jr., and Mandy Moore, the camp is literally star studded and the perfect place to send your budding actor or actress.
With classes focusing on vocal training and performing arts, students receive individual attention and put on show 14 shows every session with other campers that will be pave the way for their acting career. Each session, which lasts about three weeks, costs a little over $6,000. A weighty price tag, but the show must go on, right?
10. Sail Caribbean
Designed to empower teens through adventure, Sail Caribbean has programs for sailing, deep sea diving, marine biology, and community service. Campers live on a catamaran for either 14 or 21 days and learn marine activities as well as cook their own meals with the assistance of the staff which is made up of Olympic athletes and America's Cup crew mates.
11. Brown Ledge Camp
According to Town and Country, Brown Ledge Camp in Vermont is an all-girls camp that celebrates "freedom of choice" by giving girls the freedom to design their own schedule and stay without a counselor in their cabins. The camp has operated under this "freedom program" for more than 90 years and lets girls choose from more than 18 activities to fill their time. Gweneth Paltrow is a famous alumni and unlike most camps, Brown Ledge features all-inclusive tuition with everything covered under the $8,100 price tag.
12. High Cascade Camp
Does your kid have an obsession with snowboarding? Sending them to High Cascade camp in Oregon gives them the chance to learn from Olympic professionals for six hours per day with a 2 to 1 camper to instructor ratio. Sessions are up to $2,400 for eight days, depending on whether or not kids bring their own equipment.