Working at the 1996 Summer Olympics and the 1994 World Cup are a few of the sporting events on camp director Shelly Watkins's resumé, which she draws on to run a summer camp for kids of all ages. A mother herself, she believes in giving each child individual attention, recognition, and respect, rewarding campers with high-fives and compliments for jobs well done. Together with assistant camp director Cortney Spiegel, she runs fun-packed day camps focused on arts, sports, field trips, and specialty programs. Professional counselors work with pintsize Pacinos in the Lights, Camera, Action class to make short films; kick off Nerf-themed sports events in the Nerf Extravaganza class; or venture out to bowling, movies, rollerblading, and laser tag during the Mega Adventure Field Trip. Shelly and her friendly crew also lead precamp and aftercamp activities for early-morning and evening supervision, and junior camp for campers aged 4¬–7 or 10-year-olds having their pre-preteen life crisis.
Although their name fondly alludes to Michigan's proudest industry, the Detroit Pistons rolled off the assembly line in a different state entirely—Indiana. Automobile-part mogul Fred Zollner founded the team as the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons, joining the young National Basketball League in 1941. Under Fred's direction, the Pistons immediately found success on the court, winning back-to-back NBL titles in 1944 and 1945 and amassing 166 wins in just nine seasons. As the sport grew, so too did the team. In need of a bigger audience, the Pistons left Fort Wayne for the Motor City, where they continue to challenge Eastern Conference opponents in the NBA. Throughout the years, the team has claimed three NBA championships—most recently in 2004—produced hall of fame players, and earned the record for the highest-scoring game in NBA history—a 186–184 triple-overtime win over the Denver Nuggets in which both teams accidentally scored touchdowns for a whole quarter.
Shenanigans Farm’s owner, Mary McKiernan, has more than 30 years of experience working with horses. But she has also tamed an even wilder beast: eighth-grade students. As a middle-school teacher, she learned to work with each student at his or her own pace, a philosophy she transfers to horseback-riding lessons. Joined by assistant head trainer, Ricci Tarockoff, she teaches English-style riding to students of all skill levels.
Set on 62 rolling acres, Shenanigans Farm connects to the Metamora Hunt trail, offering myriad opportunities for scenic trail rides. Its horses graze in expansive pastures and paddocks, waiting for students to saddle them to trot around the large indoor or outdoor arenas. The farm maintains a family-oriented vibe, often hosting summer camps for boys and girls, Halloween parties, and costume contests to see who can dress as the most convincing bale of hay.
Voted No. 4 in the Top 10 Birthday Chains for Kid Birthday Parties in 2010 by Parents magazine, Pump It Up pulses with inflatable play sets and actually encourages kids to bounce off the walls. Within the indoor playground, a stalwart staff oversees the neighborhood of bounce houses and air-filled playthings, such as a classic bounce castle and slick inflatable slide that cushions children's heartfelt reenactments of Cool Runnings. Throughout the week, families can pop in for open play, or tote along their own mini entourage for birthday-party packages complete with private rooms and complimentary invites. Parties come as straightforward packages or as themed events that place the birthday child in structured story adventures where they take on the role of a mighty and clever superhero or pirate captain that drank too much saltwater.
What began in 1975 as one inner-city gym in Highland Park, Michigan, has since evolved into a global health-club organization with locations in 17 different countries. Powerhouse Gym equips weightlifters and cardio bunnies alike with all they’ll ever need to keep—or create—a tight and toned physique. The gym offers equipment outfitted with personal TVs as well as a cast of certified and knowledgeable personal trainers. Depending on location, members will also have access to group fitness classes, such as yoga, Zumba, and Les Mills BodyPump, as well as 24-7 turnkey access to the facility.
Evolution Sportsplex’s dome structure houses 60,000 square feet of artificial turf, which doubles as an athletics field and an indoor driving range. There, as well as outdoors, a golfer can improve their swing, thereby eliminating the need for the pneumatic hammer taped to the end of their club. Visitors can also putt their way through a manicured miniature-golf course peppered with shady trees and refuel at the concession stand before hitting the indoor field, which can be converted for sports ranging from football to softball.