By Tess van Straaten
Monday Magazine columnist
Flying through the treetops four stories above the ground, I’ve completely forgotten my fear of heights.
“We want people to play more, fear less,” explains WildPlay marketing manager Ben Miller. “Our goal is to help people get out of their comfort zone and to new heights.”
And that’s exactly what I’m doing with my two sons at WildPlay Victoria in Colwood. We’re tackling the classic aerial adventure course, which starts out fairly easy from wooden platforms not too far off the ground and then increases in both height and difficulty.
“The classic course is broken into three sections – the green course is the easiest, the blue course is our middle course and the red course is the hardest,” explains our guide, Parker Denton. “You can start at any section you want and if green is your comfort level, you can do that all day or you can work your way through the natural succession of the course.”
Each level of the obstacle course throws new challenges at you – from tightropes and swinging logs to wobbly bridges and rope swings with adrenaline-fuelled ziplines in between. There are 11 ziplines in total at the park and 60 ‘aerial games.’ The suspended surprises can be fun – or downright frightening.
“It’s ideal for people who may be scared of heights because you go at your own pace and if you’re having trouble, we won’t leave you hanging,” Miller says. “Just shout at a guide below for tips and tricks on obstacles.”
It also helps that a continuous belay system, a new safety advancement in the industry, keeps you hooked in at all times so there’s no risk of accidentally detaching yourself (phew!). Feeling fearless after completing the classic course, my daredevil 14-year-old son, Tyler, can’t wait to do the even more challenging extreme course. But what surprises me is that Tate, my cautious 11-year-old, is also keen to climb higher and tackle even harder obstacles.
The ziplines – my favourite part – are even more fun at this level but there are also some heart-thumping challenges. The worst one for me was trying to get across four separate cargo nets that were attached to swinging logs about 15 metres in the air. Holding on for dear life and doubting whether I could make it across, Tyler saw I was struggling and yelled out some words of encouragement. He told me I could do it, and he was right.
“We want people to push their boundaries and get outdoors to try new experiences and face their fears,” says Miller.
Climbing down from the final platform, I’m elated and exhilarated. We did it. And I’m pretty sure my arms are going to be very sore tomorrow.