Though they operate more than 200 locations in upwards of 30 states, the team behind U.S. Baseball Academy aims to make each young athlete's experience a personal one. Their four- or six-week camps are taught by local instructors who are current or former coaches at the high school or college level, and typically offer a 6:1 or better player-to-teacher ratio for intense, professional-style training. The Academy's proven itinerary of hitting, pitching, fielding, and baserunning drills was developed by an advisory board of college coaches and Major League players, including Cy Young Award–winner and ace pitcher Brandon Webb.
SkateStart owner Patrick O'Toole started his skating career as many people do: by falling down constantly while skating a faulty board. He wanted to spend time with his skateboarding cousins, so his father bought him a generic, unresponsive deck from a big-box store. It barely rolled and always cancelled their playtime last minute to watch soap operas. His junky equipment and lack of knowledge kept him from keeping up with his peers. It wasn't until his father surprised him with a safe, professional skate set that his cousins finally slowed down and began teaching him the ins and outs of thrashing cement waves.
Now in his 20s, Patrick makes it his professional mission to teach the next generation of skaters the proper techniques they need to enjoy the sport. He and his team of certified instructors use his patent-pending skateboard system that shows beginners where to place their feet to push off, perform an ollie, and avoid tripping a board's self-destruct countdown. In addition to imparting fundamental skills, their lessons also build up the confidence necessary to tackle more complex maneuvers.
Children and teens engage their imaginations during dynamic adventures set in a fantastical time filled with dashing knights questing in the name of good. Groups of four to seven young heroes must overcome challenging puzzles and duel with foam swords as they work together to complete tasks such as saving their village, solving a mystery, or developing the technique of crop rotation. While swinging a Swasher sword, children learn how to compete and act fairly according to the rules of swordplay. The interactive play teaches kids creative problem solving and conflict-resolution skills that incorporate negotiation and compromises to solve complex disputes.
Martin Percival starred in the principal role for Michael Flatley's North America–touring Lord of the Dance and played the original Flatley role of "the lord." This knight in tights and his lovely team of jig-jumping instructors will lay down the law of rhythm and greens with beginner-level dances like the reel and light jig.
The bike-brains at Small Planet E Vehicles build cycles with electric motors to send riders zipping through the city at high velocities. The diverse collection of eco-friendly velocipedes ranges from the Strida 5.0 Folding Bike ($770) to the top-of-the-line A2B Metro EBike ($2,699). E-cycles run on rechargeable batteries and can travel at speeds up to 20 miles per hour, ideal for zipping to work or smuggling an extraterrestrial from scientists. Save time, money, and the planet with an e-bike, which can be fully charged at five cents a pop.