The Irish Cultural Centre will announce this month that it has entered into a licensing contract with a private company to build a “Ropes Course” with ten “tree trails” on a portion of the centre’s 46-acre campus in Canton.
The outdoor activities course will be developed, owned, and managed by a Rhode Island-based start-up, Fitness Adventures LLC, which is owned by a husband and wife team, Christopher “Topher” Kerr and Molly McClain Kerr. It is understood the company will pay the ICCNE an annual rental fee of $50,000 through 2018, with an escalating fee in future years. The initial 15-year contract includes a five-year option through 2035.
According to a January proposal obtained by the Boston Irish Reporter, the outdoor ropes course, tentatively named “Treetop Adventures at the Irish Cultural Centre,” would be open 125 days per year, from early April through November. Initially, it’s expected to be open only on weekends in the fall and spring, and seven days a week in the summer, until 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It is understood that work on the facility has already begun, with initial construction costs estimated to be close to $1 million. The licensee hopes to open the park sometime this summer.
While rope courses are not yet common in New England, it is said that some 7,500 such facilities exist around the Unite States, with several hundred new courses coming online annually.
According to a Wikipedia definition, “ A ropes course is a challenging outdoor personal development and team building activity which usually consists of high and/or low elements. Low elements take place on the ground or only a few feet above the ground. High elements are usually constructed in trees or made of utility poles and require a belay for safety.
“Most ropes courses start with a series of ground activities designed to ‘warm people up’ and get them used to working together. They will then progress onto lower elements that will be challenging, but are not usually ‘scary’ or too challenging. Next up will be the high elements that are designed to allow an individual to challenge themselves and work on overcoming fears or phobias they may have, especially a fear of heights.”
“ Good news!” one ICCNE board member said. “This agreement creates two new significant revenue streams into the ICC; it uses part of the Campus that had not been used; and it will bring thousands of new visitors to the ICC.”
An online posting at awesomeadventures.com helps to explain the concept: “Many elements of a Ropes Course are designed to not just challenge an individual’s ability, but to encourage them to work together as a team to complete the activity. In fact, many elements can only be completed by two or more people. When participants work together as a team to overcome challenges that seem impossible, it gives everyone in the group a tremendous boost of confidence, and a greater awareness of the importance of recognizing each individual’s talents and efforts.
“Participants will be challenged, but not intimidated, to complete the course using physical and mental stamina, all the while relying on their own and their fellow participants encouragement and support.
“Challenge by Choice is an important policy for any Ropes Course. This means that guides strive to encourage every participant to attempt and complete every challenge, while also recognizing that not every person is capable of, or willing to, engage in all aspects of an event, and it is important for all participants and group members to accept limitations set by individual participants. An important element of teamwork is overcoming obstacles, and thinking outside the box, and if any member of the team declines participation in an activity, it is up to the team to devise a strategy to overcome this, and to encourage and praise the participant for the efforts they expended.
“Ropes Course activities are enjoyed by many diverse groups of people, including Scouts, Corporate Groups, Church Groups, Youth Groups, Family Reunions, or any group of people who would like to participate in an activity that is good for pretty much everyone. Kids as young as 5 or 6, and not so young kids up to age 70 and beyond, have enjoyed the activities involved in a Ropes Course.”