Camp Kindle, a Project Kindle program, holds events throughout the year—including nine-day summer camp sessions in the West and Midwest—that provide a safe, fun environment in which kids affected by or infected with HIV/AIDS can shed their self-consciousness about the disease and be open about their fears. During the camp sessions participants take part in a rich array of educational and recreational activities, including arts-and-crafts programs that help them find a creative means of expressing their feelings. Kids can work on bracelets, AIDS-ribbon lanyards, pictures for loved ones at home, and other artistic endeavors as they enjoy more than a week of social interaction that can strengthen self-esteem and relieve emotional stress. Campers attend Project Kindle's events at no expense to their families, including travel, meals, and program costs.
After a silent winter and spring, the rock-climbing wall and go-kart track are waiting impatiently for summer to arrive, eager for the influx of laughter and ebullient burst of life that comes with it. The empty cabins and sports fields spread across Camp Cottontail’s 200-acre land share the sentiment, as they’ve been locked in this cycle of yearning for summer since the camp’s construction in 1958. The sprawling camp finally comes alive once flocks of young campers take over, orchestrating a symphony of sounds of kids splashing into the pool, giggling over arts and crafts, and singing around a crackling bonfire as night unfolds around them. Following in the footsteps of generations of campers before them, the kids spend each balmy summer day immersed in well-planned daily programs comprised of high-energy activities.
A past camper whose influence is felt throughout the camp is Lynn Pedroza, who assumed ownership of Cottontail in 2009. Having spent every summer since 1984 as a staff member, Lynn bought the camp with the sole intent of upholding the previous owners’ dedication to granting campers the best summer possible. Her commitment to the camp’s tradition of excellence is reflected in her meticulously selected staff of counselors and instructors, all of whom undergo extensive background checks and are certified in CPR and first aid. The staffers take campers under their wings, teaching them new skills such as how to shoot an arrow or how to save a friendship with a meaningful lanyard bracelet. Optional offsite activities and special trips bolster the camp experience. While daily schedules are determined by each camper, the camp comes together for beloved events including Skit Night, Counselor Dress-Up, and the camp dance.
Sprawling across 40 acres, Warped Paintball Park's eight outdoor fields beckon paintball warriors to dodge between obstacles such as wooden spools and abandoned cars. Armed with rented Tippmann markers, guests can compete for flags on eight scenario themed fields such as graveyard, castle, and jungle or duck and cover behind brightly colored inflatables in two arena fields held to National Professional Paintball League standards. The professional staff is always on hand to help with equipment and technical questions.
In an effort to combat the detached and repetitive vibe of most gyms, owner and personal trainer Tony Velasco and his team make personalization Afterburn Fitness's top priority. All members enjoy tailored treatments from highly skilled staff members, who continually gauge client fitness levels with body composition tests and nutritional evaluations. Instead of letting guests loose into rooms filled with dumbbells and jump ropes, Afterburn carefully cultivates every member's fitness path by creating a combination of challenging classes. The content of each class shifts depending on different goals, but participants can expect to hoist tires, battling ropes, and boxing gloves in progressive routines that keep muscles thoroughly confused, like someone reading Finnegan’s Wake upside down. Guidelines for healthier eating and helpful supplements accompany each exercise program to create a body-sculpting regimen that has been featured on KCAL's The Best of Southern California.
Making a cupcake from the Cherry Coke and pretzels you bought at a convenience store probably won't win you any prizes, but for Kim Thurman and Kim Aeck, it did. It was this combination (plus some licorice) that brought the duo the win when they appeared on the second season of the Food Network's Cupcake Wars. Together the two Kims run Bake You Happy, a labor of love born out of early-morning pre-workout conversations about baking, during which they'd trade recipes and share tips. Soon they joined forces and opened Bake You Happy—and from all the great press, they've garnered, it's safe to say they're on the right track. And that's not even to mention they were just named Best Cupcakes, Cakes, and Desserts 2013 by readers of The Signal. Their specialty is cakes, in many different forms: cupcakes, cake pops, cupcake jars, and custom cakes. All items are baked using high-quality ingredients, including dutch cocoa, butter, cream, and real vanilla bean. The menu of flavors includes more than 85 varieties.
From garnishing a perfectly poured martini to doling out rounds of drinks quickly and efficiently, the experienced instructors at National Bartender School possess all the tips, tricks, and tools to succeed in the bartending trade. With years of industry experience under their belts, these knowledgeable spirits sages guide pupils through certification courses that cover every aspect of the job. Under their supervision, students learn to craft more than 200 cocktails, handle transactions, and practice the art of the upsell without breaking a sweat or bottle of 50-year-old scotch. Free refresher courses and job-placement assistance keep students on track even after school is through. For more focused pursuits, National Bartender School also hosts classes in specialty fields such as flair bartending and bar management.