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Camp for grown-ups at Usdan University

Participants at the musical theater program at Usdan

Participants at the musical theater program at Usdan University in 2013. Credit: Usdan Center

Summer camp is for kids. And for kids at heart.

Adults can enjoy a full day of summer camp activities at Usdan University, an annual event at the Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts in Wheatley Heights. The not-for-profit Usdan Center, known for its summer arts day school for kids ages 6-18, is in its 48th year.

The adult campers are an eclectic group drawn from Long Island and across the metropolitan area. Some are among the 60,000 former students who have attended the summer arts camp since 1968. Others are parents and grandparents of current or former students. Andrew Copper, Usdan's associate executive director, says most adult campers are 40 and older with a good share of seniors. "Unlike with the kids, we don't have to check their ages," he says.

Usdan University has been an annual one-day event since 2003. Until 2013, it took place on a Sunday, when the regular day camp students were not around. Two years ago, the event was switched to Friday when the 200-acre grounds are teeming with kids.

Copper says the change creates an intergenerational experience, something the adults and the kids relish. "It's much more exciting for the adults because they're with the kids," he says. "There's a lot more energy."

Usdan University campers attend one major class, which meets from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. There are eight to choose from: ceramics, Broadway jazz dance, painting, digital photography, musical theater, organic gardening, metalsmithing and a "Street Foods of India" cooking lesson. In the ceramics class, your creation will be fired in the kiln and you can take it home with you. If you take the digital photography class, you will be able to download your photos and edit them with Photoshop. Don't forget to bring your camera and any cords and attachments.

After a community lunch and concert, you pick one of four afternoon activities: chorus, nature walk, campus tour or yoga. Bring your swimsuit for a dip in Usdan's outdoor Olympic-sized pool later in the afternoon. This is indeed an adult swim: The kids will all be gone by this point. "It's nice and quiet, and it's a very relaxing, very nice end to the day," Copper says.

Usdan University is July 17, rain or shine. (Most activities are indoors.) Cost is $80 for one person, or $150 for a couple. To register, go to nwsdy.li/usdan. For more information, call 631-643-7900.

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