As the kids get older, the idea of lazing on a beach with an iced drink and a good thriller novel to hand (my idea of heaven) becomes a bit less realistic. I know some teenagers are happy to loll around on holiday, but we like to break it up and have at least a couple of days expanding our comfort zone. I thought it would be a good idea to suggest a few activities to get the heart-rate up and excitement pounding, so here are a few of my top activities for adrenaline junkies. These are also great if you’re not actually heading away anywhere, but want a few tips for great days out to break up the holidays.
All humans are born with an instinctive fear of falling (think about how babies are tested in the first minutes of life for the reflex flinch that occurs when we feel ourselves falling, to test their alertness). For some, feeling that tingle of terror is what gets them going. Bungee jumping is a great way to test your nerves – and if jumpers are acting a little confidently, the operators will sometimes torment them by pushing them off backwards, before they are ready or even hold up a cut rope end with a faux-dismayed look as the jumper begins to plummet towards the ground!
For those who want to experience the velocity of an uncontrolled fall without the actual experience of uncontrollably falling, or the uncomfortable upside-down position at the end of a bungee jump, there is the zip wire: a seated slide down the side of a mountain, suspended from a sturdy cable. Zip-wire users (zippers?) can reach speeds of up to fifty miles per hour, while bungee jumpers, after the first twelve seconds, can be falling at up to fifty metres per second (which is around 110 miles per hour, so pretty speedy!).
Driving experience days out are a brilliant way to satisfy your inner speed demon without risking lives or incurring points on your driving licence. My boys have done a few of these and absolutely loved them. These experiences offer everyday people the chance to learn how to handle powerful vehicles, then put them through their paces in the safety of a race track environment. Driving experiences can include rally driving, racing, or the thrill of driving a high-powered supercar. Junior days take kids from as young as 11 as well, making them a great school holiday activity.
If you’re really hard core and think zip wires are tame, and bungee jumps aren’t quite long enough, there’s always sky diving. Sky divers fling themselves into the huge expanse of the sky, free-falling for long minutes (which can lead to them reaching terminal velocity, somewhere around one hundred and twenty-plus miles per hour!) before triggering the parachute that will bring them safely down to earth. Experienced sky divers can form patterns and designs in the sky before landing, meaning that there is always a new target to be strived for: more people in formation, more complex patterns, and so on. It’s a great activity to do for charity, and there are loads of organised events like this one with Great Ormond Street Hospital, where you get to dive if you commit to raising at least £350.
If the idea of jumping out of a perfectly good plane does not appeal to you, how about soaring like a god above the world? Flying lessons are widely available (Mr E’s company actually do trial lessons in helicopters too), and it’s a great skill to possess, as well as building confidence and coordination. Flying is much like driving in that controls must be learned and mastered, but it differs hugely from driving in that flying is a three-dimensional operation: up and down are not issues on the road!
So what do you think? Anything take your fancy? I’ve done the flying lesson and really enjoyed it (although I was completely rubbish), but a good old adrenaline-pumping activity day is perfect for a bit of family (or friend) bonding – will you be testing your nerve this summer?!