The staff at 2K Adventure Gear lures explorers into its storefront with apparel, equipment, and accessories for warm- and cold-weather excursions, and helps keep like minds together by organizing a variety of fun, rough-and-tumble outdoor events. A selection of kayaks, paddles, and life jackets outfit aquatic travelers; snowshoes give trekkers the surefootedness of a mountain goat and the problem-solving savvy of a lab rat with a degree in public relations. Clients can load up backpacks and venture forth on one of the company’s weekly paddling events, held at sites around the Midwest. Beginners can take advantage of lessons that accommodate no more than 12 students, and more practiced paddlers can take group trips to Wisconsin, central France, or a whale’s dreamscape.
Multicolored holds dot the climbing walls inside North Wall, granting visitors a variety of gripping surfaces and seemingly limitless routes during their scaling expeditions. Since 1994, the rock-climbing haven has been beckoning climbing enthusiasts to its sprawling confines, where it offers classes and private lessons for climbers of all abilities. Participants can even join teams, in which they can boost their skills for competitions or leisurely scrambles up the noses on Mt. Rushmore.
Play It Again Sports bedecks kids and adults alike with high-end, wallet-friendly athletic armor so that they can kick, swing, and punt with gusto. Scores of gently used merchandise, perfect for replacing equipment that children have grown out of because of rampant milk abuse, arrive daily and boast brand names such as Adidas, Taylor Made, and Easton. At the Frankfort location, pint-size puck handlers can improve their speed and whittle their hockey sticks with Bauer Supreme One 20 youth skates ($49.99). Crystal Lake's elliptical trainers and exercise bikes sculpt calves into steel, and Downers Grove's Wilson Evolution basketballs ($49.99) keep droves of neighborhood kids active. Each Play It Again Sports store encourages customers to bring in their own old or outgrown equipment to sell or trade for referee signal-decoder rings.
Dolphin Swim Club’s faculty of professional First Aid– and CPR-certified lifeguards help children aged 2 and older learn how to swim in a safe and encouraging environment. They lead lessons within a pool comfortably heated to 89 degrees, keeping class sizes small to ensure individual attention. After trainers assess each child’s ability, they’ll place them in one of nine levels, which they can progress through in accordance with their budding skills. Very young splashers might learn bubble blowing and breath control in Level A, while older and more experienced children in Level 7 might refine stroke mechanics, build up endurance, or learn how to properly evade pool-dwelling Venetian merchants.
Dolphin Swim Club stresses child safety above all other concerns. Its founder, Tyler Brewer, was a founding board member of the Swim For Life Foundation, which stresses the Safer 3—Safer Kids, Safer Water, and Safer Response—to prevent children from drowning.
Being recruited by the New York Yankees in high school and winning the Heisman Trophy for football in 1985 predictably foreshadowed a successful sports career for Bo Jackson. In addition to achieving All-Star status as a major league baseball player for New York, Kansas City, California, and Chicago, he became an NFL MVP for The Raiders in 1987, forever cementing himself in the pages of sports history books. Today, the multitalented athlete celebrates his career of swinging bats and hurling balls by personalizing Oakland Raiders and Chicago White Sox jerseys for his enduring legion of fans. These enthusiasts also get to meet the man himself as he adds his signature to the shirts sporting his name and number. The folks at Sideline Marketing organize the event. In addition to Bo, they represent a whole host of athletes, creating countless opportunities for fans to meet and critique the penmanship of their personal heroes.
Tip-toeing around black columns illuminated with rings of neon, players catch and zap friends the second they show themselves under the fluorescent light's glow. This happens every day inside Rink Side Sports' 2,000-square-foot Laser Blast arena, which accommodates up to 20 players per match. Just outside that arena, an arcade erupts in a cacophony of bells and whistles emanating from more than 100 video and redemption games. Nearby on the ice rink, ice is carved during public skating hours and kids master the triple Lutz during figure-skating programs led by experienced instructors, many of whom belong to the Professional Skaters Association. These activities all exist under one roof, as well as a 2,700-square-foot 18-hole black-light mini-golf course and a snack bar, which serves hand-tossed pizzas that can be tossed by hand into eaters’ mouths.