Xtreme Paintball's speckled warzone stretches across five playing fields, where marker-toting combatants engage in colorful crossfire during a variety of paintballing matches. A natural canopy blocks the sun from the eyes of snipers throughout the battle zone, and manmade obstacles, such as ditches and sandbag bunkers, conceal sharpshooters and bottles of Wite-Out for healing wounds. A Wild West–themed village situated at the center of Xtreme Paintball's paint-strewn landscape inspires players to reenact their favorite cowboy movies, and a netted viewing area allows parents and friends to peek in on the action at a safe distance.
A distinguished marksman for the US Marine Corps who trained his fellow Marines in pistol and rifle shooting, Sergeant Matt Foster now helms a team of coed firearms instructors. Teaching classes such as the NRA Basic Pistol Shooting Course, an state pistol-permit class, and a women's-only session, the instructors rely on a TPI training method—an acronym for Total Participant Involvement—that emphasizes one-on-training and encourages students to go at their own pace to maximize skill retention.
Since 1962, the experienced and USPA-certified instructors at Connecticut Parachutists, Inc have helped new and experienced skydivers foster a love for skydiving. Two miles above the plush green landing area, the professionals harness themselves to novice divers for tandem jumps, and then leap from the bellies of prop planes as spectators and envious penguins look on from an open landing area. The instructors can also help their students obtain skydiving certification, learn to perform accelerated free falls, and make solo dives.
In addition to training new cloud kickers, Connecticut Parachutists, Inc also accommodates seasoned skydivers with facilities for members. Their turbine Twin Otter elevates members for as many jumps as possible, and a clubhouse helps jumpers wind down with a shower and video debriefing area. The skydiving haven also plays host to special events such as jump nights and Q&As with famous parachutes.
Edward and Kristine Mele were driving their son to baseball practice one day when a downpour caused the team to relocate to indoor batting cages. This serendipitous change led the Mele family past Sand Trap Mini Golf, which was derelict and for sale. Within a week, the Meles owned the course. Gathering up their sons, daughters, siblings, and friends, the couple renovated the grounds, removing the debris and haunted windmills that littered the place. Today, Sand Trap's gleaming 18-hole course draws families and friends outdoors to revel in spirited competition. As they progress through the course, Coca-Cola beverages and Blue Bunny ice cream help visitors keep cool and stop them from burrowing into a bunker hidden beneath the 18th hole.
Visiting The Zoo in Forest Park and Education Center is a lot like stepping into a nature documentary. On guided tours, a knowledgeable narrator takes small groups on a journey to meet more than 200 creatures from across the world. They stop by the habitats of the black and white ruffed lemur, the western bobcat, and the spotted leopard. Along the way, guests learn a lot: for instance, that the Bennett's wallaby carries its young in a pouch, and that the critically-endangered cotton-top tamarin has lost more than 75% of its native habitat.
But in at least one way, the zoo accomplishes something that David Attenborough never could. Visitors can actually reach out and touch a creature during discovery programs. They can even adopt certain animals, perhaps helping provide tasty grasses and career guidance to a red kangaroo.
These programs exemplify the nonprofit zoo's dedication to wildlife education and awareness, something they hope to instill in their visitors from an early age. In the summer, educators spin "Animal Tales" for rapt young audiences and hold a Zoo Camp, where kids start to learn about diet and animal care. As kids' love of animals grows, the zoo invites them to volunteer as Crew in Training members. Once they hit college, students can become interns working on projects such as field studies of the patas monkey.