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As for rock 'n' roll, frustration is normal, says David Fishof, creator of the Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp: "The Beatles went through it." Authenticity is a fundamental part of the fantasy camp experience, says Kent Grayson, professor of marketing at Northwestern University.
But while operators try to deliver experiences that are as real as can be, campers will differ on what they consider authentic.
Still, he says, "it was perfect." The Skakels learned how to build a shelter -- fitting for a survival camp.
But plenty of other, more cushy kinds of camps also leave accommodations off the sticker price; participants have to budget for the extra expense.
But many camps will go to great lengths to keep patrons coming back, including offering perks and discounts.
"If you don't get repeats, you're doing something wrong," says Wheeler.
S., says Richard Miller, founder of market-research firm Richard K. They range from wild adventures like special-ops training to softer romps like culinary boot camp, and they cost anywhere from a couple hundred bucks to six figures (Incredible Adventures, full cosmonaut training experience: six months, 0,000).
In fact, there may now be up to a thousand of these so-called fantasy camps in the U.
At the Northwest School of Survival, where outdoor adventures are preemptively canceled about 3 percent of the time, frigid temperatures are sometimes a factor -- especially in the spring, when "the weather is predictably unpredictable" at high altitudes, says Wheeler.
Of the handful of folks who have been seriously injured during the 30-plus years of the Northwest School of Survival's existence, founder Wheeler says it was because "they screwed up with what they were being taught, and they paid the price." Mark Dickstein, a 45-year-old lawyer from Florida, also fronts a band called Wildcard.
In January he traveled to New York City to take center stage at the Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp, which he describes as an experience that was wonderful but also "a little frustrating." Participants, he says, seemed more interested in sizing each other up than in accomplishing simple tasks like deciding on a set list, and his fellow campers had varying levels of talent.
So the Sankey schools require proof of medical insurance from all participants, as well as signed waivers and release of liability forms.
Camps handle such risks in various ways; some only recommend participants have health insurance.
At the Sankey Rodeo Schools, you're not just a cowboy; you're a bull rider, training to take on the enormous beast for just a few seconds. Injuries, says owner Lyle Sankey, like sprained knees and ankles and the occasional broken collarbone.