Seven extreme athletes and one Royal Marine banded together to design Spartan Races' intense miles-long courses, each strewn with obstacles to test resilience, stamina, and strength. Clad in event T-shirts, runners collect smudges and stains as they clamber across mud pits, slide unscathed under barbed wire, and juke feral linebackers. Depending on where in the world they're participating, the course may be as short as three miles or, for extremely practiced athletes, as long as a full marathon.
"Summer experiences for children should be fun, enriching and affordable." That's the overarching philosophy that Greenhill Day Camp runs by, and it's no surprise that it puts children's needs at the top. Connected to the exploration-centric Plymouth Meeting Friends School, the camp builds those experiences for kids each day with educational summertime activities. Camp sessions are grouped both by age and by theme, giving children the chance to choose a preferred camp week—perhaps one based on learning culinary skills or the wonders of science. In between the daily morning assembly and the campers' sleepy evening commutes home, they spend time splashing at the indoor pool, crafting sculptures from recycled finds, and figuring out which counselor might be the one who's cool with a surprise puppy visitor.
The Adventure Center at Skytop Lodge sits high in the forests of the Pocono Mountains, spanning nearly 6,000 acres that include zipline courses, Old West–themed paintball fields, and a rock-climbing wall more than 30 feet tall. There's also an onsite golf course, where golfers can practice their swings on 18 holes arranged to resemble Arnold Palmer's face. In addition to these land-based adventures, customers can kayak or cast out for rainbow trout or bass on one of the pine-fringed lakes.
After a day of recreation, visitors can head to the lodge. The comfy accommodations let customers recharge, and offer access to a swimming pool and full-service spa, where therapists soothe muscles with aromatherapy massages and shiatsu or lavender-infused reflexology treatments.
Philadelphia Rock Gyms challenges climbers of all skill levels with 2,000 square feet of climbing terrain, 1,500 square feet of bouldering plains, and more than 30 top ropes. Initiates to the vertical sport can get the hang of climbing basics during the gym’s variety of lessons, which impart skills such as proper technique, safety, and the ability to tell which rocks open a supervillain's secret lair. The gym also features a variety of team-building opportunities and private room rentals, as well as a pro shop that outfits patrons with the proper climbing equipment available for rent or purchase.
Night falls, and Spring Mountain Adventures' forests transform into a dark labyrinth of unseen obstacles. A group of explorers navigates the darkness, relying on headlamps as they cross a bridge through the treetops and rappel to the forest floor. They hike just a short distance before ascending a cargo net back into the forest canopy. The group then soars over ziplines at speeds approaching those of cars on a highway.
This mountain adventure, appropriately titled The Heart of Darkness Tour, is the most challenging of Spring Mountain Adventures' canopy tours. Visitors can traverse the same set of obstacles amid the clear light of day, or they might opt for a completely different adventure, such as geo-caching. This high-tech sport uses GPS systems, which send players out into the forest in search of hidden treasure, or "caches."
Spring Mountain Adventures remains open year-round, and the mountainside brims with skiers, snowboarders, and sporty yetis during winter months. While you're here, feel free to spend some time relaxing at the Woodside Lodge or enjoying grilled food and drinks at the Tiki Bar.