What did you want to be when you grew up?
It was probably something adventurous—maybe something you saw in a movie?
And then when you actually grew up, did you end up taking that path, or did you go a different direction?
Most of us go a different direction, but we don’t lose that need for adventure and excitement! Depending on the day, I wanted to dig up dinosaur bones, build rockets, or…some kind of thrilling international thing where I could be gorgeous and smart and confident, and get paid a ton of money.
Fortunately if you’re like me and became more of an anxious nerd than a super spy out in the field, there’s still hope of living out your childhood dreams! If you’ve always wanted to go to space camp, or learn evasive driving, or literally dig up dinosaur bones, you can do it. Here are just a few grownups-only camps and programs where you can pick up some very specific skills and get a healthy dose of adventure.
As a kid, I desperately wanted to go to space camp. Living a few hours away from Cape Canaveral, the best my family could do was take us on day trips to the Kennedy Space Center, which was still super cool! Sadly my dreams of living the beloved 1986 SpaceCamp movie were dashed…but not completely?
Because it turns out adults can go to space camp too!
The US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL has lots of different space camp programs for adventurers of all ages. The Adult Space Academy is a three-day, two-night experience where you’ll be able to go on the multi-axis trainer, create and launch a model rocket, take part in a ropes course, participate in a simulated space mission, and more. This program starts at $699 per person.
There’s also an Adult Advanced Space Academy, which starts from $1,899 per person and lasts six days and five nights. During this program, you’ll get to take part in all the activities as the other Adult Space Camp, with the simulated mission being a bit longer, plus you can fly jet aircraft simulators and go scuba diving in the Underwater Astronaut Trainer.
There are quite a lot of cool programs to check out at the US Space & Rocket Center—including short activities, like just going on the multi-axis trainer if ultimately that’s the real reason you always wanted to go to space camp.
If being an astronaut wasn’t your dream as a kid, maybe you wanted to be a spy—and indeed, there are spy camps for adults who didn’t pursue dangerous, exciting careers but who still love action movies!
If you have two days to devote to an adrenaline-pumping adventure, check out the Spy Camp offered by Incredible Adventures. Based outside of Gainesville, FL, this two-day experience will have you learning to race a rally car and drive a Lamborghini with style, get firearms instruction from a Special Forces veteran at the outdoor shooting range, and even skydiving.
If you’re more interested in the intrigue side of spycraft, you might love the Stiletto Spy School (based in New York City and Las Vegas), which has courses in deception detection, poker playing, martini mixology, and wine tasting—plus weapon improvisation, orienteering and navigating, stunt driving, and lots more. The Stiletto Spy School is aimed toward self-empowerment for women, while there is a companion MI6 Academy for men.
Digging Up Dinos
What kid saw Jurassic Park when it first came out and didn’t want to become a paleontologist? It was for sure a life-changing experience for seven-year-old me—I was obsessed with dinosaurs after that, and got pretty good at drawing t-rexes.
If you always wanted to unearth dinosaur bones, there actually are ways you can help paleontologists with their work, and you don’t need a degree or experience to participate! Here are just a few volunteer opportunities and other programs to check out in paleontology:
- The Natural History Museum of Utah has volunteer programs in many different areas, including positions for paleontology fossil preparator and field assistant.
- The US Forest Service works with volunteers to help paleontologists discover, collect, and conserve specimens—learn more about ongoing and upcoming programs here!
- The Great Plains Dinosaur Museum in Montana offers an Adult Paleontology Program, where you can participate on digs unearthing sauropods (like brachiosaurus and apatosaurus) as well as other dinosaurs from the Late Jurassic Period. There’s also a Junior Paleontologist Program for children under 12.
- The Florida Museum of Natural History’s Division of Vertebrate Paleontology runs a couple of fossil-collecting sessions each year, with volunteer spots open for those interested in working outdoors at a dig site. You’ll be assigned a small digging square where you’ll excavate matrix and fossils for further research and classification.
On a related note: if you’re more into the archaeology side of things, my mom (who’s actually an archaeologist!) wrote this very helpful article about archaeology volunteer programs around the world, with recommendations for opportunities to check out, and an overview of what you might expect as an archaeology volunteer.
Party Like a Pirate
Maybe Pirates of the Caribbean is more your style than Jurassic Park—and fortunately, there are tons of pirate-themed cruises available for those who want to party like a pirate, even for one night! You won’t build new skills on these excursions, but you will definitely have a blast.
Here are some to have a look at:
Salty Sam’s Pirate Cruise: Based in Fort Myers, FL, Salty Sam’s offers several different pirate cruises, including adults-only, family-friendly, sunset cruises, and even themed cruises (like a New Year celebration, a Parrothead party, and more).
Black Raven Adventures: This St. Augustine, FL-based cruise combines two adventures: ghosts and pirates! Located on the Matanzas River, the Black Raven invites you on adventures like a haunted history boat tour, a tropical sunset cruise, a treasure hunt, a rum runner cruise, and much more.
Urban Pirates: Located in Baltimore, MD, Urban Pirates offers Friday and Saturday night pirate-themed excursions along the Inner Harbor. Bring your own drinks, dress like a pirate, and enjoy music, dancing, games, water cannons, and all the fun that can be had on a party boat!
Ready for Adventure?
Whether you’re exploring the cosmos, decoding the secrets of espionage, unearthing prehistoric wonders, or setting sail on a pirate adventure, these experiences are more than just escapades; they’re a celebration of lifelong learning and the joy of embracing the extraordinary.
So why wait? The time to rediscover and live out your childhood dreams is now!
And remember to tell us all about your adventures over on the Frayed Passport Facebook group—we’d love to hear from you!
About the Author
As the editor-in-chief of Frayed Passport, my goal is to help you build a lifestyle that lets you travel the world whenever you want and however long you want, and not worry about where your next paycheck will come from. I've been to 20+ countries and five continents, lived for years as a full-time digital nomad, and have worked completely remotely since 2015. If you would like to share your story with our community, or partner with Frayed Passport, get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Featured image by Sergey Semin on Unsplash