Imagine the moment when a shy, introverted young girl steps in front of a room full of people for the first time and speaks with confidence and clarity. This is a regular occurrence at Drama Kids International, where experienced teachers use a unique, copyrighted curriculum to help shape and focus outgoing children or draw shy children out of their shells. Classes for kids as young as 3 refine speech techniques, dramatic movement, and imagination, giving them the confidence to perform in front of an audience or finally ask their parents to change their names to Thespis. For older kids, aged 12–18, Drama Kids International offers the DKI Acting Academy, where serious theater kids can expand their speaking, acting, and auditioning skills through exercises and performances.
Brad and Judy Lee are devoted environmentalists: Judy is a wildlife rehabilitator, and both received an award from the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council in 2005 for their work. So it's hardly a surprise that after visiting a few aerial parks in the Northeast in 2012, the couple decided they wanted to give Texans a chance to mingle with Mother Nature, too. Spread across seven acres near Trinity River, the result—Trinity Forest Adventure Park—immerses visitors in a world free of cell phones, job worries, and pay-per-view sunsets.
Here, adventures unfold on six aerial courses, each with a different degree of difficulty. Thrill-seekers zip, dive, and soar through 200-year-old oaks as they conquer more than 70 rope bridges, ziplines, cargo nets, and ladders, all while safely attached to a harness. No matter the course, though, trips are what guests make them: they can be laid back and appreciative of the surroundings, or adrenaline-pumping tests of mettle.
The adventure doesn't have to end at the finish line, either. The neighboring Southern Cross Ranch—also run by the Lees—lets groups extend their trips to enjoy rock climbing a wall that's 24-feet tall, swimming, jumping on a super trampoline, and riding a 300-foot zipline over a pond.
Canyons Climbing Gym, a climbing center plastered in hand-and-foot holds top to bottom, challenges guests with 80 bouldering obstacles and 90 top-rope and lead-climbing routes fit for all skill levels. Once safely strapped into a harness, climbers make their way up one of the various routes, building up bicep strength by resisting gravity’s pull more forcefully than a jet-propelled magic carpet. Eighty obstacles bedeck the facility’s climbing floor, allowing guests to also try their hand at climbing rounded rock faces without the use of a rope.
At Elevate Trampoline Park, an indoor jump center, guests can somersault and catapult across a slew of trampoline-lined arenas. The safely padded trampolines stretch from wall to wall, granting guests enough room to jump in place among friends or attempt aerial stunts. The center's two dodge-ball courts put a twist on the traditional game by adding a trampoline element, and three slam-dunk courts let players feel the thrill of a game-winning shot without the limitations of gravity or a strict pro basketball contract. For even more aerial thrills, the bungee-jump bounce lets guests hurtle more than 25 feet in the air from the safety of a bungee cord, while a 24-foot rock-climbing wall grants the fun of an outdoor climb amid indoor comforts. When the sun goes down, DJ music and colorful lights turn the bouncy arena into an all-out party.
Summit Climbing Gym sprawls across 10,000 square feet lined with towering structures for boundless bouldering and rope climbing along with its own onsite yoga studio. Manmade walls adorned with brightly colored handholds emerge from the ground, daring aspiring climbers to decode their paths. Fingertips dipped in rock chalk learn to cling to the hardened monoliths with firm grace, keeping on the lookout for the single book spine that triggers access to a revolving door and secret chocolate fountain. Guests can gab with experts about form and new-equipment purchases at the climb shop, or take a breather on a comfy couch to rest, reflect on a new route, or admire their brand-new Popeye forearms.
In addition to its scaling structures, Summit Climbing Gym hosts yoga classes in an on-site studio to boost climbing flexibility. Here, guests choose from a variety of formats, including CoreFusion, Slow Flow, Power Yoga, and Yin Yoga, a pose-intensive class that helps range of motion and strengthen connective tissues.
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.