Gimme twenty, maggot! When you're ready.
June 13, 2008 10:13 PM   Subscribe

From time to time I've wished I could go through some sort of boot camp for a solid week or so--either to get me out of a rut or to lose a bad habit--without joining the Marines. This means a full-time, fairly hard-core regimen where you really get worked in all kinds of ways, nicely, but firmly and insistently. Like spring training. Ideally, you would even eat and sleep there. Would anybody else pay for this kind of experience? It doesn't seem to exist. Do you think there is a market to support such a thing or is it just me?
posted by Camofrog to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I'm pretty sure this exists. I only know about it because they were getting a lot of fanfare in the news a few years ago. A little googling turned up these two, and I'm sure there's more.

Ultimate Book Camp
Bay Area Boot Camp
posted by molybdenum at 10:34 PM on June 13, 2008

There's also the esteemed and rigorous programs of Outward Bound*.
posted by ericb at 10:54 PM on June 13, 2008

Like a specific habit? ("Quit smoking camp", "work out regularly camp") or just a general dicipline camp? If it's the former, I can't see it. A week is no where near enough for me to gain a good or lose a bad habit. A month, maybe, but few people have that kind of spare time. If it's the latter, there are plenty of "We thicken your skin through light abuse" camps.

However I have a friend who spent time doing Booty Bootcamp and I wholeheartedly approve of the results.
posted by Ookseer at 11:39 PM on June 13, 2008

Best answer: I call this "backpacking"

A week of 10-12 mile days in the mountains kicks your ass and mind back into shape pretty effectively.
posted by fshgrl at 11:53 PM on June 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

Interesting question. I teach finance part time at a University in London, and every year we run what's called a "Boot camp for Quants" week away.

This is for students entering our programme, and it serves several purposes: First, we need to insure they know what they're getting into (a career in finance that is). Second, we have to know if they have the basic skills (folks with programming skills do best, as quants have to be able to code models after learning finance) necessary to get through our programme. And third, - this is actually the most important - we have to know if they've got the drive to succeed.

The Boot Camp is hosted in an English countryside lodge, about one hour out of London by train and a further twenty minutes away from the station by taxi.

We've got them 24x7 and each day starts with breakfast (7AM), then a lecture where an area of finance is presented. Then a hands on lab where they've got to put what they've just (hopefully) learned into practice - that is, build a mathematical model implementing the financial concepts just lectured. And then we repeat. Six, maybe seven modules per day. We break for lunch, then dinner, but everyone has gradable assignments that must be turned in the next day. Lots of material to soak up, lots of deliverables. The computer lab is open 24x7 and heavily used. In fact there is almost more work than can be completed, and there is a reason for this overloading -- as we used to say on the trading desk, "It's better to be %85 correct and on time than %100 correct and late".

At the end of the camp students have a pretty good idea of what its really like to work on a trading desk. Too much work, never enough time.

And we've got an idea of who will be able to successfully complete the programme, what skills might be lacking, which are adequate, and, sadly, what students we have to "have a brief chat with" (i.e., aren't cut out).

So firmly and insistently? Absolutely, the material just keeps coming and coming.

I've heard there are stand alone versions as well - not connected with our or another University - as many folks want to work in finance.
posted by Mutant at 4:30 AM on June 14, 2008

It doesn't have to be a physical thing, unless that's exactly what you're looking for. What about a retreat or workshop of some kind, that's heavily scheduled? I would post a link to what I did, but I don't want to give them more business. (I'd be glad to point you their way if you mefi mail me.)

Anyway, it was a full seven days, about ten hours a day with twenty-five people. Some of it was very fun and easy and some of it was psychologically difficult like giving little performances and stuff. We were also lectured and I was verbally abused for arguing with the retreat leaders. Including travel, I paid around $3000 dollars. I was mostly outside the range of cell phones.

I was super-irritated by them (understatement), but overall I got exactly what I wanted. It was a complete, surreal pattern break, that completely upset my usual psychological routines. I came back fresh and alert and used the momentum (which lasted over a year, still going) to quit my job and get into a new field.

If you know what you want, and you're hellbent on getting it (and/or you pay lots of money), I think a lot of things would work because you'd make it work inside your head.
posted by zeek321 at 5:18 AM on June 14, 2008

Mormon boot camp ... 2 months if you're learning a language
posted by mrmarley at 7:11 AM on June 14, 2008

A week is no where near enough for me to gain a good or lose a bad habit.

True, but it can be enough to kick your ass in the right direction. Sometimes even a really good day or two can get someone to turn their attitude and focus around.

The boot camps that molybdenum describes are good (I did one like it, 5 days/week, 1 hr/day for 6 months), but the 1 hour/day thing doesn't sound like what Camofrog is looking for. It sounds like he's looking for a program with total immersion.

fshgrl has a good point with the backpacking. Even on regular vacations I always make a point to take extra care of my body, because to me, vacation is for me, doing something good to and for myself. But if you can get yourself out into the wilderness with a tent and some hiking shoes (or your bike, or whatever) and have nothing to do but use your body in that kind of positive direction, with the added bonus of the week-long meditation time, it can work wonders.
posted by iguanapolitico at 7:47 AM on June 14, 2008

Be very cautious in signing up for this kind of thing: a lot of places that offer it will be happy to take your money and genuinely abuse you and keep selling you more.

For example, if you are in your 20s or just look that way, you can almost certainly get into one of the "teen" boot camps that I write about-- just search "troubled teen," many of them run programs that take people up to their mid-20's and their only eligibility requirements are a wallet biopsy.

You can stay for months or years-- and be food deprived, sleep deprived, forced to exercise to exhaustion, put in stress positions, isolated, restrained, be sexually humiliated and emotionally brutalized. You can even pay an "escort" (that's what they are actually called) to come at 3 AM and take you out of bed in handcuffs and bring you to the place. Some are in the wilderness; others are in fixed sites. Usually parents pay to have this done to their kids, but I see no reason why they wouldn't take you if you paid them. They certainly take young adults who "choose" to go.

There are also the "emotional growth seminars" or "large group awareness trainings" that do the same kind of stuff (think est repackaged) for a few thousand dollars for a weekend or a bit longer.

The problem with all of this is that there's no evidence that it helps-- and it can produce PTSD and is typically run by people who are untrained and will violate your limits, even if they are well-intentioned. Their main motivation is usually to make money and sign you up for more "treatment."

And the more people pay for it and the tougher the staff are on them, the more they think it helped. This is due in great part to the fact that people don't like to be seen as suckers: so the worse it is, if they put up with it, the "better" they think it is.

Basically, it's your motivation that produces change-- people go in like you and think that what they paid for changed them and then go out selling that to others, when in fact, it was that they were ready for change and just about anything would have worked.

If it were me, I would avoid anything that promises any kind of "emotional" transformation and stick to adventure/exercise/wilderness stuff run by people who are trained in that and aren't trying to sell you any kind of therapeutic mumbo-jumbo. that way, you are much less likely to wind up with something "culty" and potentially harmful.
posted by Maias at 8:30 AM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Nthing Maias.

What you are asking for is a jaunt in an organization that if it won't out and out branwash you, is designed to alter your personality/values on someone else's plan. You need to figure out what you want altered and either plan your own bootcamp, or find an organization that meets your particular desire. What is it that you want to change? Quit smoking? Get in shape? Be more productive? Stop falling in love with unsuitable people?
posted by Phalene at 4:42 PM on June 14, 2008

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