API Summer 2021

THE ROLE OF OUTDOOR RECREATION

To combat these negatives, our society needs more access to solutions that can provide high-energy and engaging experiences away from screens. Such as, say, ropes courses, adventure parks, zip tours, trails, and other outdoor activities. “The ropes course is a teachable mo- ment that gives us an opportunity to al- most ‘trick’ the students into learning,” says Emily Bauder, director of Pali In- stitute, an outdoor education program in California. “It’s a fun-forward activity that gives you the option to draw out a variety of learnings afterwards. It’s an opportunity to not only lead partici- pants out of their comfort zones, but to also connect that experience to uncom- fortable feelings they’re experiencing every day in their digital world.” Health benefits. Of course, most aerial adventure activities take place outside. The CDC and other public health agen- cies say that going outside is one of the best things we can do as a society—not just because the risk of contracting Covid-19 is lower, but because physical activity is healthy. Immersive outdoor experiences can lower stress, fight feel- ings of fear, anger, sadness, or worry, and generally improve our mental and physical well-being. In a massive 2019 study of almost a mil- lion children, Danish researchers found that children without access to vegeta- tion near their homes had a 30 percent higher risk of neurotic, stress-related, or psychosomatic disorders. Studies in Japan and the U.S. have found that simple nature walks reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, increase the ability to concentrate, and improve short-term memory in adults and chil- dren alike.

At ZipZone, Ohio, Flight Club combines the aerial park or canopy tour with a falconry lesson.

MAKING THE CONNECTION

we’ve done is partner with local park agencies and naturalists to focus on the ‘wow factors’—providing educational snippets and fun facts about the forest to our guests,” she says. In addition, Pingle offers underutilized space at ZipZone for agency naturalists to use for programs with seniors and kids. “Since increasing access for those populations is a goal of theirs, it’s been a mutually beneficial arrangement. We’ve been able to cross promote with them through social media as well, which has drawn in new guests for us both,” says Pingle. A few of the ways ZipZone is partnering with experts and connecting patrons to the park around it include:

If the natural world isn’t already a thematic piece of your aerial park or zip tour, consider exploring ways to enhance your patrons’ experience by connecting it back to the physical envi- rons of their community. “There are plenty of ways to add to your park experience, providing a fun introduction to the outdoors for kids and parents alike,” says Lori Pingle, owner of ZipZone Outdoor Adventures in Columbus, Ohio. Partnerships are key. At ZipZone, Pingle has increased accessible outdoor offerings by utilizing local experts and resources, helping to create an outdoor experience hidden within a city of nearly a million people. “One of the things

Flight Club: An event that combines

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