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Buried in the woods, 15 single- and two-story log cabins line a path leading to a secluded frontier fortress. Masked combatants armed with Tippmann 98 paintball guns ponder the path's obstacles before slinking forward to meet their opponents. Along Bing Field Paintball & Airsoft Park's three wooded fields strewn across 35 acres, players sneak into sniping positions in the Frontier Field's two-story log cabins, the Vietnam Field's two-story guard tower, or our the newly designed World War II field that features several new two and three story buildings. Four speedball fields??air ball, barrel, concrete, and spool??accommodate paintball players on the other side of the wooded park. Paintball and airsoft packages grant visitors up to seven hours of play, which they can break up with refueling sessions spent scarfing down refreshments while gossiping about opponents' love lives at an onsite concessions stand.

3231 Edwardsville Rd.
Edwardsville,
Illinois
US

People generally associate premium vodka with distillers in Poland, Russia, or Sweden. But Mastermind Vodka is changing this preconception with a fine American vodka that’s truly local.

In a custom-designed still that resembles a giant martini glass, they mix small batches of the locally grown grains with water purified by a filtration system they designed themselves. The result is a clean, crisp drink that won a gold medal in the 2012 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The emphasis on local sourcing extends beyond the liquor as well, with nearby manufacturers supplying the glass bottles and obliging townies offering to taste-test each fresh batch.

4262 Highway 162
Pontoon Beach,
IL
US

After the local camera shop went out of business, customers contacted Ron Henges, the building's manager, about picking up their finished prints and repaired cameras. In the process of helping fill these last orders, customers recommended Ron open his own camera store to fill the need in the community. More than 30 years later, Creve Coeur Camera continues to serve and educate its customers through nine area locations, including a 12,000-square-foot flagship store. The shops supply and repair top-of-the-line cameras and photographic equipment and timely print services and teach how to craft charismatic images through a broad curriculum of classes.

2020 W Highway 50
O Fallon,
IL
US

In 1976, educator, musician, and kinesiologist Robin Wes longed for a children's gym that prioritized personal growth over competition. Unveiled at a time when physical-education classes pushed students to focus almost exclusively on winning, Robin's program was swiftly adopted and is now used in more than 300 Little Gyms worldwide. Robin still pens original music to accompany lessons, which engage whippersnappers 4 months old?12 years old with gymnastics, dance, karate, and parent and child activities.

Each of The Little Gym's classes introduces simple movements that sharpen motor skills and set brains whirring, allowing kids to progress at their own pace until they can finally build a computer out of macaroni and glitter. Staff members strive to build a base for lifelong social skills and self-assurance with each exercise, including activities rooted purely in fun, such as summer camps or birthday parties, which helped The Little Gym to earn title of #1 Birthday Chain in Parents magazine.

1931 W US Highway 50
Fairview Heights,
IL
US