‘Get off the couch and into the trees’
March 17, 2014
WEST BLOOMFIELD — Opening April 5, Adventure Park, an aerial forest park, will call “climbers” of all ages.
The Adventure Park at West Bloomfield is located on the Jewish Community Center property and has been under construction since last year. The only other Adventure Park in Michigan is located in Frankenmuth.
“We locate suitable forests and we go in and construct our Adventure Parks, which are basically platforms throughout the trees at different heights and connecting the platforms with challenge bridges,” said Tony Wellman, communications director for Adventure Parks of Outdoor Adventures.
Because West Bloomfield is a built-up area and the population is physically fit, Thomas Knuth, park manager, said it is the ideal location for the park.
“People are in touch with health and spirit adventure in this side of town,” Knuth said.
The park is essentially an obstacle course in the trees and includes climbing, zip lines and combinations of the challenge bridges and zip lines. The West Bloomfield park will have 10 courses, which are color-coded, with purple — the easiest — being a 12- to 20-foot-high course, and double black diamond — the most difficult — being 65 feet in the air.
“We try to make something for just about everyone who is in good health and can climb. The beauty is that people come to our parks because it’s zip lines, but they find out it’s more,” Wellman said.
While the parks are fun for climbers who are at least 5 years old, Wellman said that Adventure Parks are built to work with the natural beauty of the forest. Adventure Parks are not designed by drilling bolts into the trees to mount structures. Instead, the structures are designed with cables that are wrapped around the vertical boards and trees, using gravity and force against the trees.
“We maintain the forest. A healthy forest is good for our business and nature,” Wellman said. “Our message is really all about people getting out in the outdoors, recreating in the outdoors, playing and getting in the fresh air.”
Once climbers arrive, trained employees provide safety and climbing instruction. When swinging through the trees, climbers wear a safety harness and utilize a dual safety clip system. The safety clip device is designed so that when one is unclipped, the other remains fastened.
“This helps make sure people are always clipped on through the experience. It’s a wonderful design, and it’s important for people to know they have a double clip-on security,” Wellman said.
The courses take anywhere from 15-30 minutes to complete, and once a climber finishes a course, he or she can return to the starting platform and either begin the same challenge or move up in the color scale.
Adventure Parks have been designing and operating aerial parks since 2008. There are only about 60 parks in the U.S., but in Europe, where the concept was invented, about 2,000 exist, Wellman said.
Once the park opens, a well-marked office will be set up in the Jewish Community Center main parking lot. Knuth said that climbers will check in at the office and be paired up with a staff member, who will go over instructions and walk them to the course, which is about 150 yards away. Staff members are also positioned in the park for assistance.
“(Climbers) will leave a little bit different than when they came. … It makes memories that can last a lifetime,” Wellman said. “I always say, get off the couch and into the trees.”
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