The cracks of baseball bats, the slaps of softballs meeting mitts, and the advice of an experienced team of instructors resound within Thunder Stix Baseball & Softball Academy's cavernous 11,000-square-foot facility. Baseball and softball players alike hone their cuts inside eight pitching machines that can be adjusted from 40 miles per hour to 70 miles per hour, and brush up on their fielding technique inside four netted astroturf tunnels. Robert Banner—the academy's owner and the head softball coach at Alexis I. DuPont High School—and his instructors use the well-appointed digs to help players of all abilities develop their skills in every facet of the game, including batting, fielding, base running, and agility.
Tony Hoffman, a United States Coast Guard licensed captain, brings more than 35 years of fishing experience to his charter boat company. During guided fishing trips, he escorts groups out on the back bays and instructs them in the basics of fishing using on-board rods. The action takes place on the Family Fisherman, a 40-foot pontoon boat equipped with an open-air deck, a state-of-the-art stereo system, and the busts of famous bluefish. Passengers can cast a line at flounder, sea bass, and small sand sharks, enjoying views of the glistening New Jersey bays along the way.
In 2003, QuickShot Paintball set up its base camp in the back of a food mart; since then, its headquarters has grown to feature six playing fields and a fully loaded pro shop. After choosing a game format such as capture the flag, elimination, or scenario play, you can deploy your team to any of five woodsball fields. Obstacles and hiding spots are scattered throughout the arenas; on the Pond field, for example, teams can dart past a number of water features. Meanwhile, inflatable bunkers are speckled throughout the regulation speedball field, which has brightly colored grass thanks to its special irrigation system and regular shower of green paintballs. After matches, players can retire to the pro shop to check out a full stock of markers, equipment, and tactical apparel.
Ever since he was a child, Ocean City native Tyler Barnes cruised the waters around his nautical town on his parents' boat. His nautical knowledge culminated in a three-year stint as a mate for a parasail company. As he fell in love with the craft, he realized he wanted to start his own adventure company. By blending his skills in watery sports with training as a marketing major, he founded Paradise Watersports. Ten years later, his company now owns a fleet of four 12-passenger parasailing boats and 30 Sea-Doo jet skis, which they buy new each year to ensure high-quality performance.
Tyler leads a team of U.S. Coast Guard–licensed captains and crew, who also all hold certifications in CPR and first aid and boast a thorough knowledge of the area as well as a near-compulsive need for year-round water-bound activity. They put this knowledge to use teaching boater-safety courses on the bay and guiding jet-ski rentals and beach-hugging parasailing tours. On tours, they pilot U.S. Coast Guard–inspected boats custom-built to accommodate parasailing gear and equipped with hydraulic winches and towlines to enable slow takeoffs, steady ascents, and undisturbed conversations with seagulls. For many trips, they grant visitors waterproof Canon cameras, letting riders snap their own photos from the boat or above it.
Atlantic Edge Dive Center's dive-masters might technically be classified as land mammals, but they spend enough time under water to earn the honorary title of amphibian. They spend days and nights teaching and leading dives, whether they're arming curious beginners with basic skills in one of their on-site swimming pools, or conducting open water certification tests off the coast. They go beyond simply certifying students for adventure: they provide rescue diving, dive master, and instructor training as well.
Their passion for the aquatic pastime draws them to all kinds of watery outposts. They lead excursions to the Florida keys to help rehabilitate the coral reefs surrounding the islands, and dive into the relatively calm waters of the tanks in the Baltimore National Aquarium, where they have a chance to see 53 species of fish feed in the secret underwater cafeteria.
Although Sightseer Whale & Dolphin Trips continues an almost 70-year tradition of chartering sightseers out to sea in search of wildlife, oceanography isn’t its only passion. The company also holds in high regard the patriotism and courageousness displayed by our nation's armed forces, honoring all active members of the military and their immediate families with complimentary tours through aqueous avenues. Each two- to three-hour voyage brings up to 187 guests in close quarters with the Atlantic Ocean's splash-happy mammals while a knowledgeable biologist narrates the tour. The company's cruise boat manned by seasoned captains boasts both shaded and sunny areas, and summertime travelers can count on a refreshing ocean breeze to keep them cool.