"Swim. We can't over-emphasize that. The hardest part about surfing isn't getting up on the board; it's paddling out against the surf and then paddling to catch the wave"
—Izzy Paskowitz, former pro surfer and instructor at Paskowitz Family Surf Camp, San Clemente, California
Peak Performance Swim Camp
Peak Performance runs its Weeklong swim camp for all levelsfrom competitive high-schoolers to lap swimmers to masters-class racersat the National Triathlon Training Center's 50-meter pool, in Clermont, Florida. Led by 1996 Olympic coaches, you'll spend four hours a day in the water, finessing your kick-and-pull technique in the four major strokes. Dry-land sessions include flexibility and strength training, as well as visualization and nutrition workshops. Underwater videotaping will reveal your bad habitsthe first step toward breaking them.
End Game: Streamlined technique and faster times.
Info: $999 (all-inclusive), year-round; 407-872-0604,
Or Try: Doug Stern's Open Water Swim Camps, in Yulan, New York, and learn straight-line swimming in open water; three-day sessions in New York, $300; ten-day camps in Curaçao, in the Netherlands Antilles, $1,595; 212-222-0720,
San Diego, California
Ocean enterprises boasts a PADI five-star rating and it's one of the only career-development dive centers in the country. (This is where teachers come to learn.) Better yet, San Diego's coastal waters offer shipwrecks, kelp beds, and ledge diving. Most of the school's 30-plus instructors have logged more than 500 dives each and can handle the needs of beginners, as well as scuba vets looking for specialty training in wreck and nitrox diving. In its TWO-Weekend open-water beginner course, you'll move at your own pace from a dry-land introduction to a pool session, and finally to four 20- to 40-foot dives in the open Pacific.
End Game: Earning your PADI open-water certification, and the ability to dive with a buddy, sans instructor.
Info: $230 (instruction only), year-round; 858-565-6054,
Or Try: Olympus Dive Center, in Morehead City, North Carolina, for basic scuba-certification courses and deep-diving clinics; $105 per day; 252-726-9432,
Nancy Emerson School of Surfing
Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii
International surf professional Nancy Emerson and her golden retriever, Apache, welcome groms and shredders to a five-Day maui surf clinic in the warm waters off Lahaina, where gentle two- to four-foot waves can make standing up on your first day a snap. On days two and three, you'll learn the nuances of reading reef breaks and timing waves. Stay in one of Maui's nearby beachfront accommodations and you'll have round-the-clock access toand inspiration fromyour Pacific classroom.
End Game: Walking the boardthe first step to hanging ten.
Info: $780 (instruction and lunches only), year-round; 808-662-4445,
Or Try: SoCal-based Paskowitz Family Surf Camp's newest campus, in Baja's Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; seven-day sessions, $2,900; 949-728-1000,
Andre Puyans Fly Fishing & Fly Tying Seminars
Island Park, Idaho
A member of the federation of Fly Fishing Hall of Fame since 1995, Andre Puyans, at age 12, could hit a pack of Lucky Strikes with a cast from 35 feet away. Now 68, he's taught more than 4,000 students, from novice to expert. His seven-day seminar at the rustic Elk Creek Ranch covers casting, entomology, and fly presentation, followed by four days angling for 16- to 25-inch rainbow trout in Hemingway's stomping grounds: Idaho's Henry's Fork and Buffalo rivers, Montana's Madison River, and Wyoming's Yellowstone River.
End Game: Reeling in a big oneon your own cast.
Info: $2,975 (all-inclusive), July; 925-939-3113,
Or Try: Dave and Emily Whitlock's Fly Fishing School, near Mountain Home, Arkansas, for top-notch angling instruction on the White River; three-day clinic, $750; 888-962-4576,
Annapolis Sailing School
The Chesapeake Bay's consistent winds and flatwater are ideal for sailing. No wonder the Annapolis Sailing School has been teaching there since 1959. On its five-day bay country cruising course, you and three other students will live and study aboard a 37-foot O'Day twin-sailtouring marinas, exploring islands, and overnighting in coves along Maryland's Eastern Shore. Your Coast Guardcertified instructor emphasizes a learn-by-doing approach, which means he'll look over your shoulder, but you'll be in charge as you tack, jibe, weigh anchor, and navigate using nautical charts.
End Game: Sailing a sizable boat with confidence.
Info: $1,430$1,490 (all-inclusive), April to October; 800-638-9192,
Or Try: The Modern Sailing Academy, in Sausalito, California, for a five-day basic cruising course in the big water of San Francisco Bay; $995; 800-995-1668,
Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
Imagine 70 miles of white sand, a steady wind, 80-degree, waist-deep ocean. This is Cape Hatteras, where six hours of daily instruction at the three-day zero to Hero camp will have you shredding the sunrise oilthat's flatwaterin no time. You'll practice rigging, flying on land, launching in Pamlico Sound, and bailing out when a sudden gust slingshots you toward a pier.
End Game: Touring downwind as your kite catches the breeze overhead.
Info: $895 (instruction only), March to November; 866-732-5548, www.realkiteboarding.com
Or Try: New Wind Kiteboarding, in La Ventana, Mexico, for one-on-one coaching along Baja's gulf coast; two days, $467; 541-387-2440, www.newwindkiteboarding.com