Since 1998, Axial Theatre's ensemble has worked to help playwrights develop original works and actors sharpen their skills. A bi-monthly reading series gives audiences a chance to take part in the process of making new plays, from first draft to the fifth and final standing ovation. The group extends equal support to fledgling performers by offering an acting program to train the board-treading stars of the future.
Deep in a lush corner of the Catskill Mountains, there’s a silence that’s almost palpable. After your ears adjust to the lack of city life, you can hear the sounds of nature creeping in: rustling leaves, chirping birds, and the slow breathing of retreat-goers guiding their limbs into therapeutic poses as a yoga instructor looks on. This is a common scene at Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch, an Ayurvedic escape founded in 1974 on 77 acres of countryside. Surrounded by organic vegetable patches, flower gardens, and trees,visitors find it easy to immerse themselves into the healing studies of the ranch’s multiday programs.
As the sun peeks over the mountains and each day begins, practitioners gather at the Krishna temple to meditate, chant, and listen to a lecture. What follows—depending on the retreat—is a combination of a two hour yoga class, guest lectures and workshops, and meditation sessions. Some retreats are weekend getaways for yoga civilians, and others focus on yoga-teacher training, permaculture, and Native American spirituality. Throughout all programs, hiking opportunities abound.
Visitors stay in dorm, private double rooms (without private bathrooms), or apartment-style accommodations, (with bathroom and shower), and join fellow guests at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. for vegetarian meals based on yogic and Ayurvedic nutrition. Ingredients are organic, as local and seasonal as possible, and free from chemical preservatives. To soothe their minds and muscles after a day of strenuous work, visitors can also take in a view of the mountains from inside the ranch’s wood-burning banya-style sauna.
A Maze in Pottery invites brush-wielders of all ages and skill levels to select and custom-slather functional ceramic canvases. The studio's shelf-lined wall brims with more than 300 enticing and unpainted pieces, including cereal bowls ($14), coffee mugs ($13.50), and cat figurines ($13.50), which make ideal chew toys for brave mice. After selecting a piece, customers can get cozy at a table and spend two hours beautifying blank surfaces with more than 50 food-safe and lead-free paints and glazes.
East Fishkill Golf Center's 26-acre, multisport facility awakens the sportsmanship of every visitor regardless of age or athletic prowess. The grounds cater to ball-strikers of all stripes, whether protecting the strike zone in 1 of the 11 batting-cage stalls, avoiding the waterfalls and elevation changes on the 19-hole miniature-golf course, or aiming for displaced UFOs on the 35-stall lighted driving range. A 12,000-square-foot indoor facility carpeted with astroturf houses a regulation softball infield complete with pitching mounds and a spectator viewing area.
Since 1978, Champion Day Camp has sated kids’ hunger for summertime adventure. During day camps, children are divided into small groups organized by age and supervised by staff members who are responsible for three to five campers each. In this nurturing environment, kids can make friends and learn new skills as they enjoy a range of activities such as the Ropes Adventure program—which includes climbing walls, ziplines, and a 52-foot “Humongous Tower”—or computer-, yoga-, and photography-based activities. Champion also stages traditional camp activities, such as swimming, soccer, and speculating on the ingredients of bug juice.
Rebel Race's military-style obstacle courses challenge athletes from all backgrounds to shed humdrum day-to-day routines to experience the primal joys of mud, sweat and glory. Emerging from the mire in various states across the country, each Rebel Race packs its rucksack with tests of physical and mental toughness, rousing racers and washing machines alike to triumph in the face of sloppy opposition. After dashing through fire, climbing walls, and scaling mountains of hay, race participants bask in the collective kudos of parties, which include live entertainment, food, and beer for purchase. Camping options encourage participants and spectators to transform races into weekend getaways, while awards recognize each day's standout competitors and most-humble mud pits.