Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Winkler Botanical Vs. Go Ape! What are they thinking?

So the question is which of these two scenarios is the craziest?

Winkler Botanical Preserve is located in Northern Virginia and sits in the shadow of the Interstate 395 in Alexandria. It has a few acres of prime land with a beautiful ropes course and a stone and timber visitor center. The preserve is managed by a private, non – profit organization with the mission to provide free environmental education for the students of Alexandria City public schools. This land is in jeopardy because VDOT is looking to direct traffic directly off I 395 and several of the proposals run the ramp right through Winkler to accommodate this.

On the other end of the spectrum is the approval by the Montgomery County Planning Board for Go Ape!, a for-profit enterprise based in the UK, to take over 6 acres of land and trees in Rock Creek Park at Lake Needwood. Go Ape! are being allowed to build a high wire forest adventure on Regional County Park land and reap the rewards. It goes even further to allow the potential clients to use the facilities (parking and rest rooms) already there for their own convenience.

Do you have opinion about either of these scenarios?
Is it right that a non-profit ropes course, for the benefit of the community be threatened whereas not 40 miles away a for- profit organizations is being allowed to take over public land?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mexican Zip Line Experience!

Even when it comes to vacations, we always seem to find ourselves near a zip line! This year we vacationed down on the Mexican Mayan Riviera and had a wonderful time taking in the sights and sounds.

During our stay we visited two adventure parks that offered amazing zip line experiences and we wanted to check them out and see how they do things in Mexico. The first place we went to was Holkan Kingdom where they had built a series of wooden towers, 12 in all with 8 zip lines, 2 suspension bridges and one monkey walk joining the towers. The longest zip line was 800 feet long across the lagoon. Check them out and see what other great activities they do!

Some of the zip lines you zipped over the lagoon below and others over the tree tops of the Mexican jungle!. It was all great fun and gave us some ideas of what to add to our own ropes course back in Maryland, Upward Enterprises Team Building.

The second visit was to the Xplor Park which boasted 15 giant towers built of concrete and stone that were linked with 12 zip lines, two suspension bridges and one very long water chute! Two of the zip line landings were into water which was a new experience for us. The longest zip line was an amazing 1800 feet from a tower that stood 120 feet high above the jungle.

We had a blast at both of these parks and were really amazed at the set up and running of both, especially at Xplor. All of the staff was professional, friendly and there to make sure you got the best experience possible.

All in all, we loved everything about our trip and can't wait to head south again for some more adventure!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Coming to the end of a busy year, but its not over yet!

2009 has been a good year for us at Upward Enterprises and we are grateful to all our clients, new and returning for their support. At the the start of the year we were anxious as to what kind of year to expect with the economic downturn around the US and rest of the world.

It seems that Team Building is one of those things that is important and even more so in times like this when teams are changing, some decreasing in size and changing priorities. New teams are always being developed in the workplace, for new projects and ventures and for social and sporting themes.

So as 2009 approaches its final quarter we are still going strong and are enjoying having new clients come out to our Ropes Course facility and for as long as the weather is good and the clients are willing, we will continue to provide a rewarding experience for all on the course.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Upward Enterprises in Smart Company Magazine

Eat - Sleep - Play

Upward Enteprises is featured in this month's Smart Company Magazine, "Building Teams with Ropes". I had totally forgot about being interviewed for this article months ago until a stack of magazines were delivered to my doorstep. You can see my face in the table of contents and read the story starting on page 76. Team building during our current economic climate can reap benefits in morale and productivity. Truely I believe the rewards are immeasurable and not just because I'm in the industry. I've seen it with my own eyes many times on our ropes course when the "light bulb" turns on and team spirit kicks in. Very powerful.

See where you can pick up a copy of the magazine. http://www.smartcompanymag.com/articleDetail.aspx?id=253

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Training for the Future - Update

As I wrote earlier, I recently returned from a ropes course rescue training class where my skills were tested and put on the line. As a ropes course owner and operator, I always try to keep things up-to-date and current and practice what I preach on my course. With 35 years of experience, you would think that was enough not to get nervous.

Well sometimes it is good to put the boot on the other foot and see what the guides go through when we ask them to perform as we do during test scenarios. And it is not only the guides that we put into these circumstances of being uncomfortable. Indeed we do it all the time to our customers and clients. When is the last time you pushed yourself outside of your comfort zone? If you are like me it was some time ago. Our industry association, namely the Association of Challenge Course Technology (ACCT), only recommends that we attend further training and assessment courses. We know that the only place to learn is outside of your comfort zone. That's why it feels uncomfortable but that's where we learn the most. I did feel nervous but I guess that is only natural. Maybe challenge made me perform better. It definately kept me on the balls of my feet. I have been waiting patiently for the results of my testing on the training. Good news!!!! I passed the tests with flying colors.

We are good to go and I have already passed that learning on to my guys. Learning is fun whether is it for the first time or repeated. If the students know their stuff it will show. Confidence only comes with practice of a skill and complacency can creep in through the smallest cracks.

I urge everyone in our industry to maintain high standards of training and allow plenty of time to practice. Not because we have to, but also because it is a fun way to test and push ourselves.

We now offer that training at Upward Enterprises to other facilitators, managers and owners in the area to test their knowledge and have the benefit of expanding that comfort zone.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Back to Blighty

At last the embassy has finally given us the new date to go back to get our visas. This process has only taken 3 years to date and it looks like we may finally have cracked it. Don't hold your breaths for us though as you know things change quickly. Don't fear in our absence as we are putting into place an awesome team to fill the gap. Programs will go ahead as planned and you will probably not miss us at all. We should get to see family in the quick visit and someone even rumored a party or two.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

training training training

I have just gotten back from a 5 day high ropes course training in New England. I have been holding back from these trainings and tests because of the "Do I need this or not?" syndrome.

In the end I decided to sign up. I am glad I did the training simply to convince myself that I am on the right track and to consolidate the things I am teaching my staff and protocols that I insist they apply.

High ropes course rescues are a key skill that we hope we never have to perform. However they are essential to practice and by doing so you increase your familiarity that could make the difference during the real thing if it were to occur.

We think we know best sometimes and are somewhat complacent when it comes to reacting to adversity. How would you react in an emergency high ropes rescue? Do you set up for the worst case scenario? Are your staff competant in their skill set? Or even, do your clients ask the pertinent questions about the level of credentials that you hold as a ropes course manager and operator?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hemlock Closure Follow Up

Thanks to DH for his responses to my earlier blog about the closure of Hemlock Overlook as a team building facility. It appears you have some inside knowledge but to the general public June 30, 2009 seems to be the end. The web page "Save Hemlock" is a great attempt to inform and show that the industry and locals to Hemlock care about another great team building resource potentially going to the wall.

Good luck in your efforts and let me know if I can help I anyway.
-Clive Felgate

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hemloch Overlook Closure

Has anyone else heard that the Hemlock Overlook operation is closing in June 2009?
Personally I don't beleive that the DNR state park will find a new partner to help them throgh this difficult transition in the coming year and I am back up in this thought by the fact that they are not taking bookings passed June.
Now we have all those clients scuttling Hemlock Overlook to the other ropes course vendors for a make do for this season.
We at Upward Enterprises run a very different Team Building program that uses the much larger ropes course to its full potential in an Experiantial Learning capacity. Yes our rates can be higher and generally the programs are longer and Rome was not built in a day. To know this you must visit the site and experience the programs.
Are you game?