Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures Kids’ Course: A KidsOutAndAbout review
by Kathleen McCormack
Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures opened another kids' course aimed at children ages 4 – 7 years old at the end of July 2015. They now offer seven challenge courses (ages 8 and up), two kids’ courses (ages 4 -7), over 125 elements to conquer, and more than 5,000 feet of zipline.
Simply put - you have to see this place. Walking into the woods feels like stepping into a Jane Goodall documentary. Kids and adults are ziplining over your head, riding “skateboards” through the trees, and stepping gingerly from one wobbly structure to the next. And despite the thrill factor, there’s a calm in the air because the structures are all made of wood, seamlessly blending in to the forest canopy, and everyone is so focused, there’s no obnoxious noise pollution.
While it sounded thrilling, my concern was that we’d make the hour drive from Rochester only to have my 4-year-old blow through the course in a couple of minutes. However, make no mistake, these two kids’ course may be aimed at children as young as 4, but they are both genuinely challenging.
Let me preface by saying that my 4-year-old is tall for her age and went to preschool in a gymnastics facility, so I did not expect her to be nervous. Yet while getting strapped into her harness, she got a little overwhelmed and needed some convincing to get up there. She was not the only one. Note from the pictures that although parents can reach their kids at the first structure, they do get progressively higher, putting kids just above the parents’ heads. Never fear: Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures staff members are up in the trees with the kids and can hold hands and even shift children in line to move more confident climbers past those who need to catch their breath. The course ends in a zipline, and although my daughter had herself really worked up about it, as soon as she was lowered off the platform, she was within arm’s reach.
Despite my daughter's occasional tears, I was still incredibly happy with the experience. You have never seen kids so focused. What a confidence builder! What a genuine lesson in believing in yourself! What a fitness opportunity! What a chance for parents to tell their kids how proud they are of them!
The staff members at Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures deserve all the praise. Frankly, whoever has to staff the kids’ courses should be getting paid extra. Such extreme patience and genuine care. Not only was the Bristol employee in the trees being an incredible help, the staff on the ground gathered around to cheer on the little ones. In fact, one staff member who had been playing with my daughter earlier, came over to the aerial course just to encourage her some more and then told her if she’d had her harness on, she would have come up into the course to walk her through personally.
And their care clearly rubbed off on the kids. There were about six kids on the course at the same time as my daughter, and while they were strangers to each other, I got a little choked up watching them reach out their hands to one another, giving pats on the back to those who were nervous, and offering suggestions for how to take the next step. Truly a character building experience.
Know Before You Go Guide…
Strollers: Pathways aren’t paved, so yes, you can get your stroller around, but you probably want to bring the one with the big wheels.
Bathrooms: Porta-potties. Bring extra hand sanitizer. Definitely use the bathrooms before getting harnassed! Once you’re strapped and up in the trees, you’re not likely to make it to the potty in time.
Nursing: The summit building is a large open space, so finding a private area to breastfeed might be a bit tricky. Bring your cover-up, find a bench in the woods, and enjoy the sight of people zip-lining over your head while feeding Baby.
Food: Each kids’ course takes from 20 minutes to 40 minutes depending on the comfort level of the child (a nervous kid might need a little more encouragement) and the number of other kids on the course. We packed a picnic lunch and were glad to have brought a lot of water and snacks to replenish after exerting so much energy and focus on the course. Ice cream, water, and juice are available to purchase in the Summit Center.
Younger kids: My 1-year-old was anxious to join his sister in the trees. Luckily I brought a friend to help entertain him because my 4-year-old needed my attention and encouragement. I highly recommend having an extra set of hands if you have little ones not yet old enough to climb.
To learn about Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures' challenge courses for older kids and adults, read our review here.
For more info: bristolmountainadventures.com
© 2015, KidsOutAndAbout.com
Kathleen McCormack is an editor at KidsOutAndAbout.com and lives in the Rochester, NY area. Her husband usually fills the role of jungle gym for her two little ones and was glad to share the duty with the trees at Aerial Adventures!