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If you’re looking for a fun, outdoor family outing, TreEscape Aerial Adventure Park in Vernon needs to be added to your fall to-do list asap! Set among the wooded forest of Great Gorge, the park offers fun challenges to guests of all ages and skill levels. Sure, you can hit up the pumpkin patch or go apple picking (things we just can’t miss once the weather turns crisp) but this year, why not also go on an adventure where you can climb, zip and soar through the trees, all while spending time outside in nature with your gang?

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We recently took our twins to TreEscape and it turned out to be one of the most fun weekend adventures we’ve had in a long time. Our experience began when we followed a trail to the high ropes course, reading fun signs along the way featuring facts about the park.

My son had done high ropes and ziplining earlier this summer at sleepaway camp so he was raring to go. Having never been in a harness 60 feet off the ground, I was nervous — not just for myself but because we were also going to try getting our daughter, who has autism, up on the course. While she loves to climb and play and have fun outdoors, I didn’t know how she’d handle all of the obstacles we would encounter. Thankfully, John, the manager of TreEscape, took her under his wing and guided her every step of the way.

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The Park is built to ACCT (Association of Challenge Course Technology) specifications, among the most stringent ropes course safety standards in the world, and the courses go from yellow (easiest) to green to blue and finally black (expert). After getting harnessed up, we got a briefing on how to work the clip lock system (Tweezle) which basically guarantees that you are locked onto the ropes at any given time. After a quick practice course, we were ready to go.

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Under John’s patient guidance, my daughter followed directions, stepping up a ladder and making her way to the first course. After gingerly testing her footing on a suspended beam, John took her down to a lower course where she stayed focused and executed all of the required moves, putting one foot in front of the other, bending, climbing and tunneling her way to her first zipline. With every step, I could see her confidence building and the smile on her face told me she wanted to continue.

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Meanwhile, my husband and son were off on their own courses. I looked over to see my almost 10-year-old boy, tweezling with confidence and climbing with focus way above the ground. There was no iPad for him to play with and no phones for us to check (they strongly recommend leaving them in the lockers as any loose items will risk falling to the ground).

As we traversed the courses, we were each individually challenged, physically and mentally, and yet we were also having one of the best family bonding experiences I can remember.

“Hey look at me!” my son called as he took off ziplining across the course. I was totally amazed at his fearlessness and his ability.

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When my daughter was finished climbing and ready for a well-earned drink of water, John and his team used a pully to safely lower her down to the ground and to her waiting (and proud) dad.

Now it was my turn to complete the course on my own. With serious concentration, I moved along the ropes, locking onto and off of each part of the course, and stepping carefully high above the ground. By the time I reached the last part of my course, which ended in a zip line, I locked onto the rope and stepped off the platform, zipping fast through the trees. It was exhilarating, freeing and so much fun.

TreEscape is an amazing opportunity to get out in nature, challenge yourself and be together as a family. Because of John’s skill and patience, it meant the difference between my daughter not being able to participate and her having a fun, challenging experience that made her more aware of her own power in the course of a few hours.

We can’t wait to return once the leaves start to change to experience the beauty and adventure of this very special place again.

TreEscape Aerial Adventure Park is located at 414 County Rd. 517 in Vernon. It is open weekends only from now until November 28 and pricing is $25 ages 4-6 and $53 ages 7+ for a 3-hour experience.

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