HASTINGS, Minn. (WCCO) — Where most people see just a pile of dirt, two brothers saw potential. They have turned a gravel pit in Hastings into the ultimate play area.

Extreme Sandbox is a place where childhood memories of Tonka trucks in the back yard meet the real thing.

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“We’ve put a lot of energy into this,” said Randy Stenger. “This stuff makes these Tonka trucks look like nothing.”

“It’s a big kid’s sandbox,” said Don Stenger.

For beginners, like Colleen Warner, there’s a lesson in safety and a course in how to use the equipment.

“I wanted to do it. When I heard about it, I couldn’t wait,” said Warner.

After the training, Extreme Sandbox lets you actually take control of heavy machinery used at construction sites. All the while, Randy Stenger and his staff are by your side.

“It’s just exciting. No one gets to experience this except for people in the industry,” he said.

The skid steer is the smallest piece of equipment and a good starting point.

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Customers try to navigate the machinery through an obstacle course. But if the skid steer isn’t challenging enough, you can always try an even bigger toy: the mighty bulldozer.

There’s just something about pushing sand and tires that gives you a sense of accomplishment.

Once you’ve mastered the bulldozer, it’s time to move on to the excavator. Warner had no problem completing several challenges in this 19-ton piece of equipment.

“Now it’s just like being a kid and you get to do it for real,” she said.

Randy Stenger said he thinks women show more talent in the Extreme Sandbox.

“It’s the finesse. Guys want to brute through things, but women can use their minds and little finesse moves,” he said.

As adults, we’d like to think our days in the sandbox are over, but now Randy Stenger is finding it hard to stay away.

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“I’m kind of a kid at heart,” he said.