Maximum Participation

Courtesy Of Camp For All

Setting its sights on enriching the lives of children and adults with challenging illnesses and special needs, Camp For All wanted to make sure its activities were as barrier-free as its facilities. Doing so meant there were multiple ways to participate in activities, and all campers were able to succeed. So how does one make a high-adventure course universal?

When the camp opened its gates in 1998, it contained a 30-foot climbing tower that included a two-element pole approach with a two-line bridge and a multi-vine, a vertical wall, an incline wall, and two zip lines. To increase accessibility, a boom arm was added that allowed a 4:1 pulley to transport campers who could not climb on their own to the top of the course. There was also a mid-ropes course 15 feet off the ground with an incline-wall entrance, a catwalk, and a two-line bridge going one direction to a zip line, and a two-pole catwalk and multi-vine going in the opposite direction to a zip line.

However, after realizing that the mid-ropes course was not in line with the rest of the universal programming and barrier-free facilities, it was decided a high-ropes course would be built to accommodate all campers.


Courtesy Of Camp For All

The Process

To create a course that was less staff-intensive and allowed more campers to participate at one time, leadership, program staff members, and a builder collaborated. It was decided a two-level course with 4:1 pulley options up to both levels and between levels was the best option.

A three-year, three-phase project was selected to:

  1. Provide a large ropes course that could be used in multiple ways with the ability to open different parts of the course based on the size of the group and the time allotted in the schedule.
  2. Allow time to train staff in the new process, and learn each phase independently from the other phases.
  3. Make changes to the design and implement them.

The initial design was to have a two-level ropes course with a central tower. There would be three “spokes” coming off from the center, and each spoke would represent one phase of the course. Each spoke would have two lower and two upper elements, with the final course having six lower and six upper elements.

Phase I

The first phase included a central tower with one string of elements attached, and two satellite towers, each of which contains a platform at 20 feet and 35 feet, a metal shed roof, and an accessible boom at each level. The far satellite tower has a zip line; this phase also included a stand-alone giant swing built on 50-foot poles. On the bottom level, a magic carpet and cross ropes were built, while a trolley and a horizontal zip line graced the top level.

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