When Joan Barnes founded Gymboree Play & Music in 1976, she envisioned a facility where parents and children could play together in a safe and age-appropriate environment. In the following decades, Gymboree spread to more than 30 countries across the globe, helping youngsters from infants to 5 years old develop cognitive, physical, and social skills.
The company's instructors lead classes such as Play & Learn, its flagship course, in which parents and kids move through a seven-level program filled with storytelling, play activities, and debates on the merits of sandwich crust. Talented staffers also prep youngsters for school and foster development in areas such as music, art, and sports. Throughout all classes, they make use of custom play equipment designed by acclaimed playground designer and seesaw-tamer Jay Beck.
Andy Siebert floated in the water, weightless—almost as if in outer space—and watched as all 40 feet of a Galapagos Island whale shark drifted past him. It’s moments like that one that Andy lives for, having devoted his life to scuba diving. He took his first dive as a teenager, but didn’t take the sport seriously until he turned 42, at which point he began his journey to log more than 3,000 dives.
Now, as owner of Scuba World, Andy works to help others discover their love of the underwater sport. One part retail shop and one part scuba-diving school, the PADI five-star IDC dive center is chock-full of gear for purchase and rental, as well as expert instructors who teach classes for divers of all levels, including instructor-level classes. Their classes range from beginner discovery sessions to open-water-certification courses to rescue-diver classes for the more advanced diver who is worried about all those fish in the ocean who need help getting out. Andy’s wife and partner, Lynn Siebert, plans trips that take divers to waters all over the world, including the nearby Monterey Bay and more far-flung expeditions in Micronesia.
Since 1972, Spare Time Clubs has evolved into a 10-club, full-service family sports club company that includes programs for both adults and children. Each location varies in size—some boasting multiple complexes—and houses amenities such as lighted tennis courts, pools, kids’ play areas, and fitness centers. At the Diamond Hills and El Dorado Hills locations, members can shine up in the onsite European spas, and the jewel of the Gold River club is a lighted stadium court encircled by a 5,000 square-foot observation deck. In the event of inclement weather or courts being overrun by ball-chasing dogs, players can schedule time at the dedicated indoor-tennis center, where eight fully sectioned-off, championship courts glow under the power of tournament-level lighting. World-class coaches develop kids’ court skills at the junior tennis academy, students of which can practice with an unlimited number of sessions at any of Spare Time’s other clubs.
A novice might raise a skeptical eyebrow at a coriander- or sorghum-infused beer, but to craft brewer Erik Schmid, ingredients like these aren’t unusual in the least. At The Brewmeister, Erik teaches small groups of students to concoct liquid refreshments that are both distinctive and tasty. Beer-brewing classes cover the basics of fermentation, proper sanitation practices, and how to funnel beer into bottles or directly into bellies. Though Schmid prepares batches of seasonal ales in brewing classes, he can advise students on any brewing technique.
Those who wish to pursue the art of home brewing can purchase brewing equipment and ingredients such as malts, barley, and hops in The Brewmeister's shop. Schmid also stocks wine-making materials, including a variety of yeasts and rental presses with which to extract juices from grapes or grape-flavored juice boxes.
Art teacher Kimberly Godinho sees her studio as a haven for students who might be otherwise afraid of exploring their artistic sides. Her background includes earning her bachelor degree in fine arts, and her current work as a professional artist underscores her expertise. Heartened by friends and wine, visitors of all experience levels follow Kimberly’s instructions to brush up the chosen project, which may include wine glass tableaus, pastoral landscapes, and the inky insides of a camera’s lens cap. All materials are included with each class, including canvas, paints, and smocks.
This is not a 'mainstream' zoo," notes Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary on their website. "People who 'don't like zoos' are generally comfortable here." Perhaps that's because the center is more animal sanctuary than public zoo. Since 1963, it has taken in wild animals that have been injured in the wild, orphaned at an early age, or rejected as exotic pets by their owners. The sanctuary's staff provides lifelong homes for these animals, not only keeping them fed and cared for, but also engaging their mental and physical abilities through creative enrichment activities. Of course, education is a major focus, as well, which is why they invite visitors in to meet their boarders. The black bear exhibit showcases a few of these rescued creatures. Its glass viewing panels look into the habits of bears such as Sequoia, who was dropped off anonymously at a wildlife facility, and Marty, who was shot in the hip. Elsewhere, rescued red-tailed hawks perch inside an aviary, and a canine area showcases wolves, dogs, and everything in between.
North American species such as these occupy most of the habitats, but zookeepers also rescue the occasional exotic animal. They saved Orinoco, a squirrel monkey that came from a research facility, and Misty and Pouncer, a pair of mixed species tigers rescued from an illegal breeding facility. By telling these stories, the zookeepers hope to discourage the public from keeping wild animals as pets. Instead, they invite visitors to take active roles through volunteer initiatives and a junior zookeeper program.