This weekend was a real treat for me and my family as we had some very special visitors. My cousin, Peter, lives in America so we don’t exactly get to see him much. I haven’t seen Peter for 15 years; Marci, his wife, for 20 years; and have never met their 3 children before. So it was fantastic to hear that they were planning a family trip to Europe and would be able to spend a couple of days with us.
To break up the days of sight seeing, we thought we’d give them something a bit more physically challenging, so decided to take them to the Adventure Rope Course in Shrewsbury. My plan had been to spend something in the order of 2 hours there, but the kids got so into the whole thing that we were there for more than twice that and the boys would happily have stayed even longer!
We started on the Crate Stack, which I always find is a great first activity. It gets people working together and having to cooperate, whilst the height aspect of the challenge increases slowly and it’s easy enough for people to say ‘stop’ when they’ve reached the edge of their comfort zone. A well oiled routine makes a big difference for those that aim to build a tall crate stack. It was Robert and Alfie that took the honors on this one, but it’s definitely an advantage going last as you learn from other’s successes (and failures!).
Next came the Adventure Tunnels, with everyone trying to find their way through a series of small passageways, dead ends, trap doors and various obstacles whilst trying to pick up clues to help them escape the top of the maze. Great fun, and often a favourite, except for those that find themselves going round in circles! I’ll have to try and get some photos of this some day, but the lack of light doesn’t make it easy. Having made it to the top of the tower, the fastest way back down to ground level is to jump out of the door on the Parachute Simulator. Taking one step forward may sound easy, but most people struggle to make their legs do as they’re told when there’s nothing but a big drop in front of them.
After making it back down to the ground, it was time to head back up – this time on the Jacob’s Ladder. Like the Crate Stack, this is great for teamwork as the ‘climbers’ really do need to work together if they are to make much progress up the ladder. Not only is each successive ‘step’ higher than the last making it psychologically harder, but the gap increases making it physically harder as well. Some seem to develop a technique quite quickly, while others struggle to lift themselves up as the ladder sways beneath them. It look as though it should be easy, but the reality is very different – a real achievement for those that manage to conquer it. Robert and Alfie, this time with the assistance of Caleb, managed to make the most progress, but Rebecca and Emily made a noble attempt!
The Giant Swing looks very impressive, and certainly makes a lasting impression for those that dare to be winched all the way to the top. Pulling the quick release cord usually results in some interesting noises, expletives and facial expressions from those strapped in the swing, and today was no exception.
With energy levels starting to dwindle, it was mainly the boys that kept going. While the girls took advantage of the sunshine, we moved on to the Leap of Faith. Having climbed the pole, it’s standing up on the small platform at the top which is the hardest bit. Obviously, you’re attached to a rope, but you feel very exposed and the fact that the platform wobbles doesn’t make you feel any more secure! If I remember rightly, Robert was the only one to manage to get to his feet and make the Leap of Faith itself but, even for those that didn’t make it all the way, it’s just as much fun coming down like Superman!
The Climbing Wall looks as though it should be easy from the ground. In comparison to many of the other scary looking activities, this looks quite straight forward – but don’t be fooled. The positioning and orientation of some of the holds makes it more of a challenge than first meets the eye. Alfie made it to the top of both routes but, having done it before, he certainly had the advantage. Being the smallest, Charlie had the advantage of having little weight to support, but suffered from a lack of limb length and kept going until there was absolutely nothing more he could do. Both Caleb and Robert worked with great determination but didn’t have Charlie’s lack of weight or Alfie’s experience. However, they kept going and managed to stay on the wall until their fingers and forearms simply stopped working – hardcore!
We were so fortunate today. To be able to take advantage of the Adventure Rope Course with such special family on a beautiful day was a great privilege. Thanks guys for making it so much fun.