Monday, August 22, 2011

Adventure Courses in a non Litigious Country

If you saw my facebook post yesterday, you already know that on our 18th wedding anniversary Kyle and I (and the kids) went spelunking, zip lining and did a ropes course.

I'm a bit sore and bruised today from the experience but we all had fun and it is always good to challenge myself to go a bit out of my comfort zone.  In many aspects the ropes course we did here in Belgium was like those we have experienced back in the states.  We wore a safety harness, there were caribeeners (spelling???), and all kinds of wires.  We walked on lines high above the ground.  There were unstable steps, cargo nets, rolling logs, etc.

What was noticeable different was the level of staffing and the level of staff engagement with participants.  Pretty much the staff made sure the harness was on correctly, showed us how to clip on and off a line, pointed to the start and said yell if you have any problems.  From there we were on our own.  No one supervised if we were indeed clipping on and off the safety line correctly.  No one yelled encouragement if we were unsure about going forward.  No one was there to help us figure out a tricky element.

A few people did have difficulty with the ropes course.  It took several minutes of yelling and/or whistling to get assistance.  Fortunately no one completely freaked out.  As a family we did fine on our own - it helped that all of us have done ropes courses before and have a decent level of strength and balance and that the height didn't bother us.  Kyra did fall off one element, but was able to pull herself back on without assistance.

I think Kyle and I were the most struck by the lack of supervision in the caves.  We were shown a map of the tunnels, warned that some of the passages were tight, and pointed down a flight of steps.  The staff person said if you get lost, just yell for a while and someone will come.  This may have been reassuring had there actually been a staff person who was nearby the caves, but as soon as instructions were given, he left and we were on our own.  No one monitored the caves.  If we had gotten stuck or lost, we would not have been discovered until someone else entered the caves.

Many times I have encountered excessive safety barriers and warnings for idiots in the US and thought, is this really necessary?   Yesterday, we were fine without the excessive care but I wonder if there isn't a happy medium.

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