Live the ultimate action fantasy at spy school

There’s an inexplicable, guilty allure to a life of brazen gun-toting, stealthy motive-deciphering and slick high-speed car-handling. James Bond, personifed in 22 epic films since 1962, proves the enduring human captivation with covert missions and trumping enemies – men and women can’t resist the glamour of secret agent swagger.

Now, the same top-secret skills and tactics can be learned at “spy camps.” A new crop of adventurous getaways have capitalized on the popular fantasy to be like Bond, and in just a day or weekend, these programs aim to bring out confidence and fearlessness in ordinary citizens.

“When you watch James Bond movies and spy movies, it’s like a role play,” says Greg Claxton of Incredible Adventures in Florida. “It’s like being a kid again.”

Incredible Adventures has been in the business of heart-pounding getaways since 1993. Amid a list of programs that include a “MiGs Over Moscow” jet-flying excursion, “Shark Adventures” and zero-gravity space simulations, Incredible Adventures strives to satisfy spy aficionados with a specially designed “Covert Ops” training course. This two- or three-day program whisks participants to a remote area in Tuscon, Ariz., which was once a CIA covert operations training facility.

Participants train under the guise of Special Forces, real-deal counter-intelligence veterans in the arts of pistol marksmanship – with real Smith & Wesson 9 mm weapons – and unarmed self-defense. High-speed vehicle smarts are taught by professional on- and off-road racers, with full-contact driving – “people actually learn to avoid being run off the road, and really get clipped,” says Claxton – as part of training. All culimnates in a group convoy situation and mock hostage-rescue operation to test a training group’s mettle.

“All these things are applicable to real life,” says Claxton.

Not leaving women out of the spy camp fray, New York-based Alana Winter started her own enterprise: Stiletto Spy School. Inspired by the idea that women find the persona of a “Bond Girl” just as sexy as men do, Winter designed a program to capture the essence of a secret agent woman in all her savvy, seductive glory.

“When I was a little girl, I watched the Bond Girls and Charlie’s Angels and thought ‘Wow, I want to be like those girls!’ They were tough and glamorous,” Winter says. To create that empowered female ideal, Winter says Stiletto Spy School emphasizes “the fun, fantasy adventure aspect, but it’s also incredibly confidence-building.”

Stiletto Spy School participants can choose from oneto three-day programs, located either in Las Vegas or New York City. Like the Incredible Adventures Covert Ops program, armed and unarmed self-defense lessons are taught by hand-picked experts at Stiletto Spy School. What differs at female spy camp, however, are the lessons in poker-playing, wine-pairing, mixology and dancing – all skills of smarts and enticement that women can use to their advantage.

And, Winter has found, men reap the benefits of their Stiletto Spy School graduates, too.

“I have had plenty of guys apply for their wives and girlfriends,” she says. “(Stiletto Spy School) taps into their own sexiness – women come back from this feeling like dynamos. What guy doesn’t want their girl to feel like that?”

In response to Stiletto Spy School’s popularity, Winter has just launched MI 6 Academy, the male counterpart to Stiletto. MI 6 Academy promises to be a thrill ride, as well.

For booking information and program itineraries on the spy schools mentioned in this story, visit the following websites: www.incredible-adventures.com www.stilettospyschool.com www.mi6academy.com

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