(Rendering of “vertical playpen” that’s part of the challenge-course plan)
By Karen Berge
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
Meeting organizers from Seattle Parks and Recreation, the Camp Long Advisory Council and WSU 4-H were on hand during the meeting, as well as before and after, to field questions. (See their full PowerPoint presentation here.)
Chukundi Salisbury, project manager from Seattle Parks, opened the meeting with a brief history and overview of the project to date. He introduced Ken Turner, the newly allocated Parks staff person who will be the Camp Long challenge course manager.
Scott VanderWey, director of adventure education from WSU 4-H Challenge, showed detailed slides of the proposed locations in the park juxtaposed with each of the elements of the new course.
The project proposal includes 14 individual site locations (pads), 13 for low elements and 1 pad for stand-alone high elements. Early course elements such as a “Whale Watch” platform provide experiential learning that can then be applied to more difficult activities. All of the course elements are designed to build teamwork and skills. Some seemingly-duplicated elements are purposely designed to increase capacity on the course.
After he described each element, VanderWey or other members of the team answered questions and addressed concerns. Few concerns were voiced. One member of the educational staff said she was concerned that one proposed element might be too close to the location for the insect programs, so they plan to look at that. They plan to have a tiered payment model to keep the course financially sustainable; that generated comments on the importance of keeping the course affordable for all students and for non-profits with little money. A member of the Camp Long Advisory Council noted that they plan to discuss scholarships.
Potential impact to trees in the park had been voiced in earlier written comments; this matter was clarified by Salisbury. He explained that most elements will be built using poles; however, the “Nitro Crossing” elements will be attached carefully to 4 trees.
It was a very interactive meeting; the audience seemed engaged throughout and supportive. A show of hands indicated that the majority were familiar or involved with ropes/challenge courses. A challenge course instructor commended the organizers for their work and persistence: “It’s been a long time coming.” There was applause when someone made reference to adding more high elements, such as a zip line, in the future if they obtain additional funds.
Meeting organizers closed the meeting with discussion of next steps and several calls to action.
First, they need volunteers to help clear the sites, so that all funds can be used for actual materials. They noted that they “also have volunteer opportunities that don’t involve getting dirty.” Once the sites are cleared, they anticipate construction of the course taking approximately one month. Their goal is to have the course completed by June, so that it is open in time for summer school programs.
Next, they want to hear more from the community. They urged those at the meeting to engage others and to actively solicit feedback – pro or con – on this project. They noted that you can submit written comments via e-mail or mail; you can also request to be added to their e-mail list for project updates. They plan to post the slides from the presentation on their website.