colorado gators photo
For this year’s summer vacation, why not try something a little …um…different. Wow your co-workers with tales of adventure, near-death and re-attached finger tips. Learn hand-to-hand combat with trained Navy SEALS, test your wilderness survival skills or wrestle an alligator.
Why choose lazy beach life when you can test your nerves, build character and bring yourself to the brink of physical exhaustion?
For the brave and ballsy, here are a few bad-ass activities that will rock your summer vacation:
Wrestle an Alligator
Colorado Gators, a reptile park in south central Colorado, offers half-day classes where students are taught how to handle 2 to 10 foot alligators. Crocodile Dundee wannabes will learn how the gators move and how best to wrangle them.
Students who successfully wrestle the small ones will move to the next challenge — the big alligator pen, to drag an 11 footer (we’re talking about 600 lbs) to shore.
Graduates of the class are eligible to enter Gatorfest, an annual alligator rodeo held this year from August 4 to 5th. The contestant who catches the biggest alligator in the shortest amount of time wins the title. Check out www.gatorfarm.comto register.
Survive in the Bush
Imagine yourself lost in the woods without food and shelter. What do you do? Mountain Shepherd Wilderness Survival, a Virginia-based company located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, will teach you the skills you need to survive.
Though they offer several courses, their most popular, and some say most difficult, is the Humble Thunder, a four day/three nighter that focuses on survival challenges, wilderness first-aid, knot tying, map and compass hiking. This course costs about $550.
Under the watch of a former U.S. Air Force Survival Instructor, a wide range of people have learned life and death survival skills. Mountain Shepherd has trained everyone from boy scouts to corporate managers, FBI to CIA agents. www.mountainshepherd.com
Fly a Fighter Plane
Live your Top Gun fantasies with a real-life air combat adventure. Air Combat USA is a one-day training course that teaches students air-to-air combat and aerial dog fighting. With a pilot instructor by your side, yo u hop in the cock-pit, grab hold of the controls and actually fly the SIAI Marchetti SF260, an Italian-made fighter aircraft.
For this activity, you don’t need a pilot’s license or flying experience to out maneuver your opponent. A trained instructor will show you how to do it.
Air Combat USA costs $1,100 and is offered by Incredible Adventures across major cities in the US. Visit www.incredible-adventures.comfor a list of upcoming dates.
Train with Navy SEALS
You may be a Canadian civilian but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience life as a U.S Navy SEAL. Slip on a pair of camouflage pants and brace yourself for the Seal Training Academy, a military camp held on a compound in Virginia Beach.
The grueling seven-day course includes such activities as: parachuting, scuba diving, land warfare, weapons training and combat medicine.
Living in barracks, students are essentially joining the military for a week. They undergo personal training, go on special operation missions, stand at attention and salute.
Though the course is open the average Joe, many students are on the path to becoming real Navy SEALS. To survive this hardcore training program you have to be physically fit. “Endurance is more important than strength,” says Stephen Earl, director of the Seal Academy, “but you have to be in good shape in order to complete the activities.”
Teachers are retired Navy SEAL officers and decorated combat veterans, many of whom have worked as contractors in overseas missions.
The Seal Training Academy takes place twice a year. It’s $2,000 all inclusive (lodging, meals, skydive instruction, gear, weapons training, etc.) The next course is being held in September. For more info visit www.sealtrainingadventures.com
Julia Dimon is editor of The Travel Junkie, an online magazine for independent travellers. She can be reached at www.thetraveljunkie.ca.