I’ll bet if I polled any of you who like to walk in your neighbourhoods after dinner we would all have one thing in common: seeing kids hanging off trees. It seems to be a fixture of childhood, and so I’d venture to say we never really grow out of appreciating a good climbing tree. For most of us this means just being able to spot those great trees with low-lying branches; but I sense that for Tom Benson, one of the founders of WildPlay Adventure Parks throughout BC and into the Yukon, the allure of a good climbing tree went waaaay further. (Actually, his climbing and paragliding background play a role in the story, I imagine.)
This summer, the newest WildPlay Park has opened in Kelowna, adding to their existing locations of Nanaimo, Whistler, Maple Ridge, Victoria, and Whitehorse. Essentially, the concept of WildPlay is like a ropes course where you get between high platforms mostly attached to the trees by maneuvering through a series of suspended obstacle games involving balancing challenges, ladders, cargo nets, rope swings, tightropes, swinging logs, wobbly bridges, and ziplines – all increasing in challenge and height as you go along. That’s the Monkido course Element, which sounds quite exotic, but in fact comes from the cheeky words “monkey do” (from “monkey see, monkey do”). The Kelowna WildPlay has an extensive Monkido course, and also a Primal Swing and Dragonfly Ziplines.
When you arrive, you receive a harness and a certified Elements guide gives you the training on a Monkido demo course to show you how to navigate the course independently. And when I say independently, that’s exactly what it is: the guide will be on the ground and offer tips and encouragement while you embark on your WildPlay adventure. The Monkido course takes about 2 hours to complete.
While I can’t attest personally to the Primal Swing, my friend and colleague at Tourism Kelowna Jenny Rutherfurd was daring enough to check out the Primal Swing last week. She swung tandem over the Mission Creek Canyon at a swinging height of 150 feet! “It was exhilarating and an experience I won’t soon forget,” she enthused when she later told us about the Element. “It was a personal challenge for me – something I was apprehensive to do but you face the fear and do it anyway. I had a huge smile on my face after the swing.”
Check the WildPlay website for more details and pricing, and then make a day of it with your family or friends. Go ahead and monkey around… as WildPlay points out, monkeying around is a lost art.