Your parents always said, “get a good education.” Now you can, at some of the world’s finest institutions of higher, faster and more dangerous learning. At these schools you can major in skateboarding or race car driving, learn the craft of being a Hollywood stuntman or wrestle gators as an elective.
From Woodward to the Snake River BASE Academy, these are the institutions to attend for an extreme sports education.
Performance Boat School
Before you open the throttle to 125 miles per hour on a high performance speed boat, learn how not to become the subject of a YouTube video labeled “Fail.” Enter the Performance Boat School in Ocala, Florida. In one of their $3,000, day-and-a-half-long courses, you can safely master a v-hull or catamaran boat… emphasis on safely. The school’s founder, Tres Martin (featured in the video above), is a national and world champion high-speed racer — with 50 wins to his credit —who has designed high performance boats. The catch? You gotta bring your own boat.
Snake River BASE Academy
For obvious reasons, there is a small margin of error in BASE jumping. Study up, grasshopper! Off you go to Snake River BASE Academy, located in Twin Falls, Idaho. Beginners and experienced hands alike get schooled in running jumps, ultra low jumps, landing and the ever important “object avoidance” — yes, that is what it sounds like. A four-day course will run $850, but shorter classes are available, as are trips to Moab, Utah and international destinations like Italy.
Woodward Skate Camp
It all started with children’s gymnastics, but Woodward has grown into a summer camp-slash-training center-slash-talent incubator for extreme sports, particularly skateboarding. Generations of grommets have grown into bona fide shredders on the camp’s insanely nice ramps in Pennsylvania and California. Among the offerings: an old-school style snake run, half pipes, a full-sized plaza with stairs and rails and a giant indoor park. Oh, and when things get slow, there is paintballing and go-kart racing. School is cool, dudes!
Colorado Gators Reptile Park
The Colorado Gators Reptile Park will let you do something you may not even want your worst enemies to ever have to do: manhandle a 9-foot alligator. The three-hour, $100 “Alligator handling class” is the only one of its kind in the world, say the park’s proprietors. They don’t actually call it wrestling — but they advertise a “hands-on experience” with a 9-foot gator, that includes putting your hands in the reptile’s maw, and otherwise risking limbs, if not life.
Skip Barber Racing School
At the Skip Barber Racing School, you will get to practice all the fast and furious driving maneuvers you dream about on your morning commute (road rage-induced fantasies notwithstanding). Namely, piloting formula cars on world-class raceways like Road Atlanta, Lime Rocks and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Using the same techniques used to train the likes of Jeff Gordon and Michael Andretti, instructors teach skills like downshifting, braking and cornering. Getting behind the wheel in an hour-long intro course costs just $700. But to step up your game, you’ll want the $3,600, three-day class at Road Atlanta. This deluxe course begins with classroom preparation but has you on the track by day’s end. Instructors ride shotgun to help you hone your line. The third day tackles the advanced race-craft of starts, drafting, passing and driving in the rain. The only class requirement: You’ve got to have a driver’s license.
Hollywood Stunts is a school for the true aspiring stunt man or woman. Those who wish to professionally get banged up, blown up, run over and sucker punched go there to learn the craft. Located in Brooklyn, Hollywood Stunts offers instruction in everything from falling from high up (in two-hour, $80 classes) to much longer, pricier lessons. For up to $3,600 and three weeks of your time, you can become adept at armed and unarmed combat, falling down stairs and breaking through windows. Just remember the little people when you make it onto the big screen, okay?
Arizona Boarding School
The Arizona Boarding School is not the kind of institution where you have to risk expulsion to sneak into the girls dorm. This school offers another way to have fun: sky surfing. You too can freefall from thousands of feet up with your feet strapped to a board. In their classes, you will learn the tricky art of staying feet-down-head-up, and work your way up through progressively larger boards.
When Tom Brown Jr. was 7 years old, he learned wilderness survival from an Apache elder named Stalking Wolf. Naturally, the courses in his Tracker School go well beyond fire by friction. The subjects range from primitive hunting, fishing and cooking to the use of stone or bone tools to throwing. Yep, throwing. For the full experience, you can spend 10 winter days soaking up Brown’s decades of studying and teaching experience. Unlike some survival schools, Brown does not believe survival means doing without. Whether it’s a kayak built from rawhide, or a fishhook made of bone, he will help you taste the fat of the land.