The jungle-gym is a playground classic. Replete with rickety old monkey-bars and scabbed knees, it is the place most children flock to escape the doldrums of the school day. Now imagine a jungle-gym for grown-ups – towering at more than 50 feet, laden with cargo-nets, zip-lines, rope bridges and cables. Call it recess from daily life.
The staff at the Adventure Programs Office at Fort Campbell recently announced that their challenge course, a monolithic maze of wood and rope, will be open to the public April 25.
This means that Soldiers, civilians and Family members wanting a dose of adrenaline can get their kicks at the recently completed 15-acre complex outside of gate 10, said Sean Podrecca, challenge course complex manager.
“Currently we are open only to [Soldiers], however after April 25, which is our grand-opening, we are going to be open to the public as well,” said Podrecca. The grand opening is being held in conjunction with this year’s Earth Day celebration, and the $5 admission to the giant playground will be waived for those who bring a tree to plant, he said.
The general public will be able to check out equipment, chat with the staff and play on the various structures from noon to 5 p.m., said Podrecca. The complex, which was completed in December, features a Carolina T-wall, an Alpine tower, an Odyssey course that is an “ideal adult jungle gym” and a team development course, he said.
The complex was originally created for the Warrior Adventure Quest, which provides Soldiers returning from deployment an opportunity to participate in high-adrenaline activities while avoiding high-risk behaviors.
“We try to get Soldiers to bond as a unit after deployment, hoping that they open up and talk during the event as well as trying to mitigate some negative behaviors like drunk driving,” said Rachel Lux, programs manager for Warrior Adventure Quest.
“The Army noticed a trend of risky behaviors, so they are trying to invest back into the Soldiers by offering them an opportunity to hang out together. WAQ has its own brief and debrief and that’s when Soldiers can talk amongst themselves and they try to relate the experience of the high-adrenaline activity to combat, and that’s really the point.”
Since March 2009, Warrior Adventure Quest has served 4,700 Soldiers and is looking to expand its heart pounding repertoire to bungee jumping and sky-diving as well, said Lux.
The staff at the Adventure Programs Office are firm believers in the benefits of high-adrenaline activities and the therapeutic value of the challenge course.
“It just gives them a platform to process their feelings in a safe environment,” said Jennifer Fischer, recreational specialist and therapist. Fischer said the course is intended to push people out of their comfort zones and into a realm where personal growth and bonding is possible. “It’s definitely fun, but I think people learn things about themselves and other people when they’re out there without really realizing it,” she said. “That’s the gem of what the challenge course is.”