April 10, 2014

The Adventure Park at West Bloomfield

After weeks of anticipation, I was very excited to get the opportunity to visit The Adventure Park at West Bloomfield (6600 West Maple Road, West Bloomfield) during their opening weekend. I had heard about the park when I ran across The Adventure Park at West Bloomfield Facebook Page and contacted them about bring the family along to experience time in the trees and was blessed that they gave me the invitation.

It was a great day to attend too. As one of the first nice spring days, it lent itself nicely to spending time climbing through the trees with the kids. When I first told the kids, their reaction was one of fear and anticipation, but I knew that they would change their minds once there. Ultimately as I am the leader of my intrepid crew, they really didn't have a choice in going or not going however I was pleasantly surprised that they thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

We arrived at the Adventure Park around 3:20 p.m. and met with several staff members. Before stepping onto the course though, each family member is required to sign a waiver, which took a little time. There are several iPads on hand to register everyone however we walked in behind two groups of 8, so we had a little wait to sign in.

My daughter getting properly fitted for her harness
by the Adventure Park at West Bloomfield staff
Once you sign in and purchase your tickets, the next step is to proceeded up the hill to get into the climbing gear and to pick up a pair of gloves. Again we were behind 2 small groups, so getting into our equipment took time. There are two harness sizes, which then need to be properly fitted before moving onto the orientation.

Thumbs up to the Adventure Park at West Bloomfield from my son.
His biggest complaint - "More zip-lining mom!!!"
 Orientation is where you will learn about how to clip and un-clip the Tweezles (I hope that is how to spell it!) from guide wires. As a parent I really liked that my kids would be securely tethered to the trees, platforms, guide wires and ziplines. One clip on the Tweezle will not unlock until the second Tweezle clip is attached and locked. At first this process seemed a bit intimidating and confusing, but we very quickly learned how to maneuver the clips.

After orientation families are encouraged to try the small zip-line practice course - I'll admit though, the real test is going through your first course. I was amazed at how quickly my kids learned to clip and un-clip to race through the course. Even my tiny 8-year old was zipping through courses after course once she went through her first course. Her biggest challenge was that she was a bit short and unable to clip and un-clip herself to zip-lines. She is 47" tall, so if your child is shorter than that, someone will always have to be on the course to help. After twice through though my 10-year-old son took off on his own for the rest of the afternoon.

Some of you may still be confused, asking, "Yes, but what exactly IS an adventure park? The website says that it is an “aerial forest park.” I believe though, that if you close your eyes and imagine an obstacle course, suspended in and around a tree-lined forest, you may get a better visual. It's pretty simple and straightforward once you see it up close.

The Adventure Park at West Bloomfield has courses for kids older than Age 5. I would like to say though, that although parents might think the "kids courses" are just for kids, let me assure you that the Purple Courses are not to be sneered at. Parents WILL break out in a light sweat from the exertion. No, you may not be changing levels or hitting the most difficult obstacles, however considering the obstacles are designed for kids, parents will find the crawling, squatting, duck-walking or shimmying through the obstacles to be a workout in and of itself!
The Adventure Park at West Bloomfield courses were challenging enough
for kids of all ages! It was a great work-out and tons of fun for
the whole family.

Like skiing, the courses are color-coded. Each one is given a specific color to indicate how challenging the obstacles may be and how high in the trees you will get. Purple courses are the easiest, Yellow are next, then it's Green followed by Blue, and finally climbers will find Black and Double Black Diamonds.

After doing both of the yellow courses and both purple courses several times, I decided to increase the challenge and try a Green or Blue course. I was told by one of the staff members that the difference between the two was pretty significant, so I opted for Green. I am glad I did too because it was a pretty substantial challenge. Granted I was starting to feel a little muscle fatigue, but the difference in going from Yellow to Green was noticeable. The Green course took more time to complete. At one point, as I was climbing higher, I could hear my son yelling "Don't look down mom!" I wasn't frightened but will admit to taking more time to decide how to approach each obstacle as I approached it. I also didn't look as far ahead as I found I was doing on the easier courses. I took each obstacle as it came. I especially enjoyed that the Green course had 2 zip-lines that were longer than the smaller courses.

I can hear it now - Yes, but what was the cost of an outing at the Adventure Park? It is a bit more than going to a movie, but I feel that 3-hours climbing among the trees is very much like skiing or a day of golf. The cost to participate ranges from $39.00/age 7-9, $43/age 10-11 and $49 for adults and teens 15+. I was told though, that throughout the year families can find special savings, and the last 3 hours of any given day may find discounts. To take advantage of the biggest cost savings though, visitors to to the Adventure Park at West Bloomfield are encouraged to get a group together to take advantage of group rates.

Getting there: If using the address of 6600 West Maple Road, the GPS will likely direct drivers  to enter the Jewish Community Center and drive around the campus. I suggest using the entrance off Drake Road instead.

Tips: Right now there is ample space to wander for photos beneath the courses. Be sure to wear appropriate footwear though as the grounds may be muddy. For families with younger children, there is a small playground directly south of the facility. The playground and adjacent space would be great for a family picnic before or after your climbing experience.

Although we were given gloves for the day, the next time we go I may take along a better fitting pair of leather work-gloves. This would improve my grip throughout the course. Three of us wore hiking boots too, which worked really well.

I saw many ladies wearing yoga pants while on the course. I was very comfortable wearing jeans but might consider wearing other tight-fitted clothing and an athletic bra for the best support. You need to be comfortable while wearing the harness and climbing through the trees!

In all our experience was wonderful. I definitely can see us going back for another visit and would love to see what the park looks like at night or when the canopy of leaves are on the majestic oak trees on the property. Whether you are a climber or just a curios sort, a day at the Adventure park at West Bloomfield will surely be enjoyed by your entire family - young and old alike. For more information or to contact The Adventure Park at West Bloomfield call (248) 419-1550 or email them at info@westbloomfieldtrees.org

One thing I would like to add though, if you go, it's a must to yell loudly and gleefully as you ascend on the zip lines. Not enough participants were doing that and I do think that should be a rule!

We'd like to thank the Adventure Park at West Bloomfield for an exceptional family outing.
The day was loads of fun and great exercise for all!

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