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The New Boot Camp: Five Summer Vacation Trends

Rock 'n' Roll Camps
Baby boomers who put down the guitar after the summer of love -- or even those who held out until disco hit -- are picking up and strapping on their old Strats, Teles, Les Pauls, and even vintage Stellas. Some of them found their way back from Clapton to Albert Lee to Muddy Waters to Son House, and are attending pre-war blues workshops from Maine to the coast of California.

There is a niche for every arrested guitar god imaginable; witness the abundance and variety of offerings at just one such outfit, National Guitar Workshops, which gives workshops and summits in guitar, bass and drums in styles including classical, jazz, blues, rock and blues, jazzy blues, country, "jam band" music, and "shred" styles. These camps cater to everyone from fedora-wearing geezers to stringy-haired Guitar Center groupies.

Or you can cross guitar necks with rock stars, as at Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen's Fur Peace Ranch. These tend to be around-the-clock immersion experiences, almost guaranteed to get your chops together. Some more options:

  • Puget Sound Guitar Workshop
  • International Guitar Seminars
  • Webnash Productions
  • Acoustic Guitar
  • Centrum

    One of These Days I'm Gonna Chuck It All and...
    After a few years in a desk job, a lot of idealistic types start thinking about what alternate life they might have lived in another time, perhaps with a different education, or simply had they not had to hustle to pay the bills from the get-go after getting out of school. Many such folks yearn for simpler times, or at least a slower pace, and look to learn or advance a craft that is not only personally satisfying work, but might also offer a way out of the rat race.

    Popular options include woodworking and similar "building" type work; subsets could include anything from glasswork to luthiery, with quilting and needlepoint, writing and photography, and even "careers in scrapbooking" along the way. Others may prefer less arguably "marketable" pursuits such as oil painting or drawing. If you are headed down the artisan's path, here are some workshops and schools to check out:

  • Woodworking.com
  • The American School of Lutherie
  • Maine Media Workshops
  • Shutterbug
  • Guide to Writers Conferences & Workshops
  • Phil Levine Workshops
  • The Artist's Workshop Directory

    "Boot Camp" Boot Camp
    The fitness boot camp represents some kind of classic 21st-century American ADD paradigm -- drop everything, submit utterly to an insane regimen for several days, then return to your "normal" life fixed and ready to go. It makes some sense nonetheless; carving 90 minutes out of each day to stay in shape is a true challenge, so why not just dedicate 90 consecutive hours of your vacation time to getting in shape, and coast on it for as long as possible until you have time to do it again? Such are the tactics to which a busy person may need to resort in modern America to keep six-pack abs from looking more like a keg.

    If you intend to spend your time away from work working out, there are plenty of people ready to help you do it. Your first stop is our Get in Shape Vacations feature; then check out some of these Web sites:

  • Bay Area Boot Camp
  • Barry's Boot Camp
  • Baby Boot Camp
  • USMC Fitness Boot Camp
  • The Sergeant's Program
  • Team Delta
  • Cynthia Conde's Bridal Bootcamp
  • Adventure Boot Camp Finder

    Buyer beware, as always: not all so-called civilian boot camps resemble military training. For example, the Zen Boot Camp at the Miraval Spa offers to help "build awareness of how your body feels," not something a typical army sergeant is likely to encourage.

    If your idea of a vacation is blisters on your fingers from playing guitar or pushing sandpaper, or on your feet from border collie herding or basic boot camp, I hope these ideas and resources fit the bill.

    Go Anyway,
    Ed Hewitt
    Features Editor
    The Independent Traveler

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