Bull Dozers Mix With Childhood Fantasies At 'Extreme Sandbox'

Thursday, May 10th 2018, 1:16 pm
By: Craig Day

A lot of folks have seen big pieces of heavy construction equipment and wished they could drive them. 

News on 6’s Craig Day took a trip to a place you can do just that and it's only about three hours from Tulsa.

It’s called the Extreme Sandbox and it’s in Pottsboro, Texas. It looks like a regular construction site but it's so much more.  The Extreme Sandbox is a place where grownups can be a kid again.

"The most I've driven is a lawn mower, car," said Ontario resident Dawn Vanderloop. 

These are like Tonka Trucks on steroids, and visitors like Leanne Chapman from Ontario and her cousin Dawn got to operate heavy machinery for fun.  

No Experience? No problem.

"What's the worst thing that could happen? Well we'll see,” laughed Vanderloop. 

After signing a waiver and watching a short safety video, they got zipped up in their safety vests and went on their own Extreme Sandbox adventure.

They got behind the controls of a 26-ton excavator with its long outstretched arm and bucket. With a little training as they went, they dug and dumped and went through a myriad of challenges. They even got to lift and move cars.

The whole idea for an extreme sandbox started when the owner of the company was driving down the highway with his young kids and they said, ‘dad wouldn't this be cool to be able to operate this equipment?’ Bam! The light bulb went off. 

Extreme Sandbox started in Minnesota in 2012.  A couple years ago, they added another location in Pottsboro, Texas.  

It's open to regular folks, but a growing part of their business is corporate groups who want unique team building activities while having a lot of fun.

Eventually, it was time for Craig to have some fun.  

Craig: "Okay so I have good health insurance, I have good life insurance, so here we go … Oh my Gosh!"

He started with a 20-ton bulldozer.

Craig: “Heck yeah."

David Beardsley is the General Manager and Craig’s instructor.

Craig: "Can I use this for my kids' bedroom to clean it?"

But it's more fun pushing pickups, and building ramps to climb over.

From the bulldozer, Craig moved to the excavator.

Craig: “It's probably routine for folks who run heavy machinery all the time.  But for novice's like me, it's a blast.”

It’s also a blast for the Canadian Cousins.

"I'm quitting my job in accounting and I'm going to work with that man over there," Vanderloop said. 

"I'd give myself like a 7 out of 10,” Chapman said.   

“I would give her a three," said Vanderloop. 

But they both rate the experience off the charts when it comes to doing something fun, unique and memorable.  The cost starts at about $200. They have different packages where you get to do more things, for longer periods of time.

You can even add a car crush.

Craig: “It was a blast!  But I'm pretty sure I would have been fired three or four times if it had been a real construction site.”