Go Ape – Our Tree Top Adventure
Have you ever wanted to jump off a perfectly solid platform high in the trees, into thin air? No? Me either. So when I asked Bean if he would like to have a tree top Junior adventure at Go Ape, he readily agreed, as long as I took part with him. Ah. Right.
Yesterday we drove to the Wyre Forest Go Ape centre, a couple of hours from home, to celebrate the opening of their Tree Top Junior course for under 10s. We arrived just in time to see someone fly down the zip wire. Once checked in, we were given a comprehensive safety briefing and helped into our harnesses. At every stage, there were clear instructions, and I was impressed by how each member of staff used our first names when they spoke to us – wherever we were on the course.
We fixed our trollies to the cable wire that would keep us safe should we slip/fall/jump and we were off, climbing up the stairs to the start of our first loop. The Junior course consists of three loops of obstacles, which get gradually more difficult, although you can do the first loop more than once if you need to build confidence before you move on.
The Go Ape Tree Top Junior course is a series of crossings between trees, punctuated by wooden platforms built around the trees. Our first crossing was a basic wooden plank bridge – the kind you see at children’s playgrounds, except that it was high in the trees. It had nets on either side of the planks. Bean was a little nervous crossing it, but he did OK. The next one was the same, without the nets. He couldn’t be persuaded to get on this one, and so we had to retrace our steps and come back down.
We went to the shelter, got a drink and had a chat. After about half an hour, he decided he would give it another go. This time he made it over the first crossing quite quickly and with a bit of persuasion, he crossed the second and did really well. The third platform terrified him, but a Go Ape instructor came over and helped him across, encouraging and praising him all the way. He was so happy to have made it.
Before long though, we were at another one which he found difficult. I tried to tell him it was OK, it was easy to cross, but in truth, I was pretty scared the whole way across this one and it took everything I had to keep going. Conscious that I had a nervous son watching my every move though, I did keep going, slow and steady and hoping he would follow me. I knew there was not a hope in hell of me turning round and going to help him on this one – it was taking everything I had to get me across.
Bean froze, and the boy behind him called for an instructor to help him. To their credit, they didn’t rush to his aid. Two instructors on the ground talked him through it, along with me, and they celebrated every little achievement – the first plank, the halfway mark – they really helped him build enough confidence to get across on his own, and I am so thankful to them for that – the amount of pride he had for himself was amazing! We hugged each other on the platform before attempting the next crossing – a net with no planks. It was fun actually but incredibly narrow. He even managed to smile on this crossing! Finally, we had to cross the first one again, and he fairly ran across that – this being the fourth time we’d done it.
This brought us to the zip wire and we were both nervous. I was up first and although I wanted to do it, the stepping off the platform was troubling me. A lot. It took me about 10 minutes of umming, ahhing, backing out before I decided I had to get on with it (but I admit, I asked for help – the instructor pushed my trolley forward to the point that I had no choice but to follow it). I screamed. For a bit. But even whilst I screamed, I realised I was thoroughly enjoying it and came to a soft landing on the woodchips at the end. I stood up and immediately shouted back up to Bean that it was brilliant!
Unfortunately, this was a step too far for him. The instructors gently coaxed him, and he got very close, but just couldn’t bring himself to step off, and they didn’t push him any further. Instead of coming down defeated, he came down triumphant because all the staff made a huge deal of how well he had done – he does not like heights, and has always been very unsure of activities that don’t have something solid beneath his feet, so the fact that he did it at all was amazing. I am so proud of him.
We were given certificates and stickers and Bean was also given a goody bag with a medal, mask, wooden yoyo, wooden colouring pencils in a case with pencil sharpener and a branded pencil. Can I tell you, he spent the entire journey home – over two hours – holding that medal in his hands. It meant so much to him to have achieved what he did.
I heartily recommend Go Ape. The staff are wonderful – caring, encouraging, friendly. There’s a Go Ape much closer to us, and we have already decided we will be going there to give it another go together to see how far we get this time.
Disclaimer. We were given free entry to Go Ape Tree Top Junior press event. This review is entirely based on our experience on the day. The Tree Top Junior activity costs £17 per person and is available to those over 1m in height.