It's a charity race with a back story like none other: bloodthirsty demons have been working in your community's offices, living in its homes, attending its schools. And now they're on the hunt and people are running for their lives. Citizens might be booking it across a field, seemingly far from the chaos, when shapes emerge on the horizon dressed head-to-toe in vampires' telltale black clothes. If you're a citizen, be prepared to run. If you're a vampire?lock in your target.
That's just part of what you might experience on the Vampire 5K, a twilight fun run where participants can register as "citizens" or "vampires" and take off from two separate starting lines. Both camps eventually converge in a chase that finds vamps trying to convert their mortal counterparts to the dark side. Citizens, dressed in white, sport two garlic flags; if the flags are taken before runners cross their finish line, they switch to a black tee and chase citizens. After the race, a moonlit party finds both camps sipping bloody marys during a dance party and award presentation. The race benefits the Mission to Hear Foundation, which provides hearing aids to underprivileged children, adults, and whatever they're calling the age group that comes in between these days.
The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring's 13 courses are color-coded by difficulty level, from yellow for beginners to double black diamonds for experts. They aren't ski trails, though?they're climbing challenges. More than 150 platforms adorn 5 acres of trees, which participants trek among by way of cable, wood, and rope bridges, as well as ziplines. A short safety briefing precedes all excursions, covering how to use the included gear and harnesses.
The park's main courses aren't the only place to test climbing skills. Over in the Monkey Grove, visitors can scale 10 trees fastened with the footholds and grips of a classic rock wall. Younger climbers, meanwhile, can explore The Labyrinth, a small, contained structure featuring more than 40 junior-sized versions of the park's other challenges. The courses illuminate on select Glow-in-the-Park evenings, when food, live music, and hoot-owl choruses await climbers upon their return to terra firma.
At DC Fencers Club (DCFC), head coach Janusz Smolenski leads a team of athletes that molds young fencers into champions. Thanks to his formidable pedagogy, he has trained U.S. national champions. Working with Coach Smolenski, a trio of coaches brings unique backgrounds and styles to the classes. Robert Suchorski was a Polish National Junior Champion and has trained under top Polish and Russian fencing masters, and Ilya Lobanenkov to his credit owns multiple top-eight finishes in Veteran Women's U.S. Nationals, multiple "A" ratings, and a top-16 finish in a U.S. Junior Men's epee circuit event.
The DCFC facility, which has produced two full-scholarship Notre Dame fencers, boasts 10 full-size electric strips on a sprung-wood floor where fencers can lunge, parry, and riposte for hours on end without incurring injury.
Divinefiesta Fitness Studio's peppy, certified instructors pump up heart rates and tone muscles with the festive cardio dance routines of Zumba, Zumba Toning, and Zumbatomic kids' classes. As high-energy Latin tunes animate the room, instructors lead easy-to-follow moves culled from dances such as salsa, rumba, and the graceful arc of a taco flying through a grade-school cafeteria. They marry calorie-melting steps with slow swivels that tighten hips and abs to help clients to shimmy up to their fitness goals.
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.
The artists and affiliates at the nonprofit organization The Bead Studio get the creative gears turning in children's brains with bead-related classes and events that emphasize improving art education for the DC-area youth. The Bead Studio hosts seasonal festivals spotlighting a slew of artisan-bead vendors to raise money for their mission and benefit other philanthropic, bead-related foundations such as Beads of Courage and BeadforLife. More than a dozen types of workshops led by instructors with impressive portfolios also benefit these causes, covering kid-centric beading techniques and business-related tips for adults wishing to start their own bead shop or kids looking to barter with the local ice-cream man.