When the climbers of Planet Granite say that community anchors everything they do, they have a history of outreach to back it up. After Castle Rock State Park appeared on California’s closure list, Planet Granite’s team quickly organized a fundraiser to save the sanctuary. They pledged $10,000 in matching funds, threw an auction, scheduled guest speakers, and obtained support from companies such as REI. In one night, they raised $20,725.
This kind of response has typified Planet Granite’s team since opening its first facility in 1994. One of the first climbing gyms in the country, Planet Granite has expanded to three gyms in Belmont, San Francisco, and Sunnyvale. The diverse array of climbing resources at each location led Popsugar to name the gym conglomerate one of the top five in San Francisco in 2011. At the Sunnyvale location, members scale 25,000 square feet of climbable surfaces that ascend from low bouldering terrains to 60-foot walls.
In keeping with their commitment to community, the staff tailors instruction and climbing routes to every ability level and affinity for hand sweatiness. They also supervise each gyms’ fully equipped fitness centers, ranging from CrossFit to yoga, which provides a peaceful counterbalance to the full-body workout of rock climbing.
Pump It Up's indoor inflatable arenas launch socked striplings into the air with a plethora of kid-friendly bounce pads. Staffers supervise fun-filled visits, during which adult counterparts leap around with their kids through gargantuan bounce houses, skip down air-filled slides, and slither like snakes covered in bacon grease through an inflated obstacle course.
The colorful venue also hosts custom birthday parties and private team parties, each themed to please the partygoers in question. These soirees immerse children in a schedule of interactive activities befitting a pirate or a superhero while melting off youthful energy faster than ice cubes thrown into a running DVD player. The birthday boy or girl even gets to blow out the candles on their cake seated in their blow-up throne. Occasionally, the staffers switch off the lights, arming the roomful of players with glow sticks and bracelets as they navigate the air-cushioned obstaclescape. Relying on the staffers' vigilant, watchful eyes, guardians can rest assured that their charges will stay safe, and each piece of the inflatable playground is held to the floor and ceiling by a complex series of anchors installed according to strict safety standards.
With a Masters Degree in Education from Notre Dame De Namur University, many years of classroom experience, and four years of tutoring under her belt, Christina Stenstrom aims to inspire and empower young women. Established in 2008, her summer camps center on helping young ladies express themselves artistically. During sessions, girls paint, draw, sing, and act but they'll also learn about marketing, branding, and making commercials. Over the course of the week, they will take what they've learned to pitch ideas to their instructor and eventually take over the world.
Though they come from different backgrounds, the three chefs behind Kids Culinary Adventures have all seen the positive impact that cooking has on children. Chef Brian Allen honed his cooking technique at California Culinary Academy's Le Cordon Bleu Hospitality Management program, but he's been comfortable in the kitchen since childhood, when he would cook and bake with his father, mother, and grandfather. Chef Danielle Nunes also grew up in the kitchen, learning many of her grandmother's secret family recipes and discovering her passion for multicultural dishes. Pastry chef Caitlin Allen fine-tuned her baking skills at Walt Disney World's Yacht and Beach Bakery. Now, they coordinate private cooking classes, camps, and themed culinary-focused birthday parties for children of all ages.
Many of their programs combine the culinary arts with lessons in math, reading, science, and visual arts. During private custom cooking classes, they work with individuals and groups to coordinate custom menus based on Italian, Mexican, or Asian recipes. Calibrated for kids as young as 3 years, their classes encourage proper nutrition and creative meal preparation, and teach kitchen cleanliness with visual aids such as "kitchen cooties," a culinary toolbox, and teddy bears carved out of soap. In multi-day camps, chefs teach academics and professional skills that help children execute DIY culinary tasks such as building a themed holiday menu, baking and decorating a cake, or mastering tools such as grills or woks.
Each pasta entree at Caprino's Restaurant begins as a mound of fresh dough. From there, chefs turn it into linguine and spaghetti and tuck butternut squash into ravioli pockets. The stuff that goes on top is also house-made, naturally: meatballs, garlic-basil cream, olive-oil/chardonnay sauce.
Pasta may reign supreme, but the menu also holds other hearty entrees, including grilled-to-order rib eye, prosciutto pizza, and chicken marsala. Sunday brunch even departs from this Italian template a bit, adding southwest-inspired dishes and catfish and grits to red-white-and-green-flecked sandwiches and scrambles.
Caprino's handsome, wood-accented dining room is equally welcoming to adults and adults-in-training. There's a full bar and, naturally, a deep wine list, split about evenly between Italy and California. But there's also a kids' menu with fun options such as mini burgers and a "dirty mashed potato" topped with bacon, cheese, and, eventually, tiny fingerprints.