For a couple of days, the Washington County Fairgrounds transforms into a jungle. Large cats. Venomous snakes. Reptiles of all types. Those and other animals sprawl across the Pacific Northwest Reptile & Exotic Animal Show, where more than 100 vendors display exotic creatures and related merchandise. In addition to the animals and products on sale, the show doubles as an educational attraction. Interactive reptile and mammal displays teach visitors about new creatures, while an exotic animal petting zoo lets visitors discover which animals secretly know how to shake hands.
The whoosh of baseballs against protective screens and leather mitts drifts through Extra Innings’ 11,000-square-foot facility even when rain is pouring down and baseball season seems far away. Athletes training for all levels of play can shut themselves in under the black meshing of eight multiuse batting and pitching tunnels, where they crush ball after ball to sharpen the minute movements of their swing. The tunnels, one of which is equipped with ProBatter ATEC7600 simulator, are all equipped with L screens and ping machines and are ideal for practicing sliders. A staff of current and former professional, college, and high-school athletes offers step-by-step instruction and on baseball- and softball-specific strength conditioning. In private lessons and group clinics, Extra Innings puts students of all ages on the path toward big-league skills such as hitting the curve and spitting sunflower seeds into the shape of a beautiful sunset.
From the outside, the nonprofit, 100% volunteer-run Kids Cooking Corner has the whimsical appearance of a fairy-tale cottage, its white siding accented by baby-blue paint and surrounded by fresh flowers and topiaries. The interior of the century-old house is equally exciting to youngsters, though not because of a prince or fairy godmother willing to do all of the heavy lifting. Children work hard at The Kids Cooking Corner, but the work is disguised in fun and rewarded with tasty snacks. Instructors warmly welcome foster children and children with special needs into their classrooms.
Helmed by chef, health enthusiast, and mother of three Heidi O'Connor, the volunteers at The Kids Cooking Corner strive to educate whippersnappers on nutrition, food safety, and food prep, often helping picky eaters try new foods along the way. Instructors incorporate math, science, and reading into curricula, teaching real-world applications for kids' school-sourced skills. Children definitely get their hands dirty, however: in spring and summer, they spend time in The Kids Cooking Corner garden, getting firsthand experience working with ingredients from seed to plate. Brightly painted walls, a playful party room, and a fully stocked kitchen provide a safe, exciting environment for kids to get crafty with edibles during each class, as well as during summer camps, parties, and peaceful games of food baseball.
In his 25-year coaching career, PGA professional Jack Young has taught more than 30,000 golfers, ranging from 5-year-olds to 90-year-olds, from scratch players to first timers. In 2007, he left a post as a golf club's head golf pro to dedicate all of his time to coaching, putting to use the encyclopedic knowledge of golf-swing mechanics and the clear communication skills that have made him successful from the start. Operating out of Vanco Golf Range, Jack often uses video swing analysis in lessons, providing his pupils with visual aids and material for their acting reel. His familiarity with multiple swing models lets him mold his advice to pupils' natural tendencies. "I believe in physics," Jack says. "There are a lot of ways to hit a golf ball; everyone has their own unique signature to their swing." Jack's skills extend to club fitting, which he has been doing for 20 years and offers free of charge. His expertise extends beyond simple swing mechanics: Jack also advises golfers on the mental approach, short-game skills, and unique kind of physical fitness needed to fortify swings and get away with late-night cart tipping.
Inside both of JJ Jump's two locations lies 7,000 to 12,000 square feet of inflatable challenges and bounce-based entertainment for children. The jousting arena settles sibling rivalries in a civilized and laugh-filled fashion, and giant slides send little ones safely toward the ground. But there's more to JJ Jump than jumping: each facility also boasts a creative play zone that is ripe with construction toys and a stage where children can let their imaginations run wild.
From time to time, the Clackamas facility morphs into JJ Extreme, where a kid wearing a harness can be suspended from the ceiling by a rope to swing back and forth under neon lights. Harnesses also come in handy for a slightly more competitive activity, during which youngsters zip past one another, running toward a basketball hoop and hoping to make a shot before a bungee cord pulls them each backward across a soft, inflatable mat.
At G6 Airpark, patrons of all ages bound safely between the open-jump arena and sports-based courts that comprise the 12,000 square-foot indoor trampoline park. Interconnected trampolines bordered by neon-green pads stretch from wall to wall, encouraging guests to defy gravity's demands as they spring into the air. On the dodge-ball court, jumpers fly while skirting air-filled orbs flung from opposing teams, and on the basketball court they vault over the rim, slam dunking. Guests practice more elaborate aerial flips and full-speed hugging exercises into the foam-filled trick zone, whereas the children-only area provides a safe haven for little ones. In between leaps and bounds, bouncers halt for a pizza or shaved ice from the caf?, which can also supply party fare for energy-burning, activity-filled birthday parties.