As the centrepiece of a sprawling 32-acre site, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum preserves Canada's rich baseball heritage while leading visitors around the base paths of the game's history. In one room, fans ogle displays dedicated solely to the Expos and Blue Jays, and in another, artifacts from across the globe trap eyes in a pickle between vintage photos and authentic uniforms. The consistently rotated lineup of displays also saves a spot for current Canadian ballplayers, as well as for autographed Babe Ruth mementos that, despite their age, still retain their new hotdog smell.
Each year, the Hall of Fame adds new members to a select group of inductees, which currently includes 93 individuals and ranges from pro ballplayers and amateurs to umpires and trainers. In 2012 alone, the museum and its surrounding ball fields will play host to more than 450 events, highlighted by training clinics and minor league games. The 10th annual Kids on Deck summer camp also calls the site home, giving youngsters aged 8–14 the chance to perfect such vital skills as bunting and spitting a sunflower seed at least 10 feet.
Some of the drills practiced at Dream Large Basketball are what most fans would classify as fouls. There’s the one where players crash into padded mats while trying to maintain their dribble. If that isn’t difficult enough, there’s another drill that demands players to dribble two balls simultaneously while being pushed from the front and pulled from behind. Coach Phil Ramirez, the man behind these challenging drills, believes that young ballers will excel during games if they’re physically tested during practice. That means a mix of basketball training and fatiguing exercises, which include cone drills, wall sits, heavy rope routines, and memorizing Dr. James Naismith’s thesis paper. Through hard work and plenty of sweat, the training facility hopes to get youth ballers closer to earning a spot on their middle school, high school, or college teams.
Instinct Windsports gives humans the means to defy gravity and evolution. Everyone from beginners to experienced hang gliders can learn the ways of flight, with instructors making safety their top priority. Ground schools explore the gliders and their underlying principles before a scooter-mounted towing winch and a computerized simulator let beginners ease into flight. Although not included with this Groupon, more experienced students can work through certification courses that give them the techniques necessary to soar on their own.
For a safe, immersive introduction to the world of hang gliding, the center’s certified pilots also offer tandem flights. A high-powered winch or an ultra-light airplane tows the duo to as high as 1,500 feet before releasing the glider to the instructor’s control. During the next 10–30 minutes, adventurers gain a birds-eye view of the surrounding area and the possibility of controlling the glider so they can brag to their land-bound pets after landing.
Spanning 100 tree-lined acres, Silverdale Gun Club gives its members nine ranges to refine their marksmanship skills, from action shooting to precision rifle work at up to 200 yards. The club further supports these pursuits by housing a pro shop onsite. Though the ranges are chiefly reserved for Silverdale's members, they do open at select times to nonmembers.
Though the winter snow has melted, inner tubes continue to zoom down the routes at Chicopee Tube Park—now cruising atop Italian mats, designed for waterless tubing. A host of other outdoor attractions complement the park’s eponymous activity. Two ziplines—an 80-metre line for first timers and a 300-metre line for veteran fliers—let passengers glide above the treetops without having to hitch a ride on a passing pterodactyl. The Eurobungy trampoline also gives guests the gift of flight, granting harness-sporting park-goers the ability to leap up to 25 feet in the air, and the spider-web climbing tower offers stationary bird’s-eye views once climbers have hoisted themselves to its pinnacle. For low-to-the-ground fun, harnessed participants at the horizontal ropes can balance six feet off the ground, getting a taste of tightrope walking without that chalky, acrophobic aftertaste.