While Terrapin Adventures is known for its adventure ropes courses for adults, they also have activities for children between the ages of 5-10. I took my two boys, 5 and 9, to check it out. My older son had been on a treetop course in Virginia a month before, but my younger son had never tried anything like it.
Find Your Kids’ Inner Explorer!
After checking in and getting the boys fitted for helmets and harnesses, we followed our guide to the Terrapin Explorer area. There were two really tall structures — an adult climbing tower and the Terrapin Explorer setup, tailored for kids. At the highest part, adventurers on the kids’ structure climb to where their feet are 23 feet from the ground.
Ropes, zip lines, nets, wires, and wooden platforms connect several wooden telephone poles. Our guide reassured my boys that they would always be connected to a line so that even if their feet slipped they would never drop to the ground and would only dangle down slightly.
Rock Climbing Fun
My boys started on the 20-foot rock-climbing wall. My older son easily scaled it and rappelled down twice. My younger son, who has only used rock walls at playgrounds, reached the top on his first attempt. When he scooted over to try another pathway up, with different hand- and footholds, he couldn’t quite reach the top. Both times, our guide was able to pull a line to help him rappel down safely since he didn’t have experience rappelling.
After the rock wall, the boys were given a brief demo on a zip line, which was really low so their feet stayed on the ground. Then they were led around the ropes course for four different rectangular loops — an inner and outer loop on a lower level, and an inner and outer loop on an upper level.
My older son zoomed through the tightropes, shaky boards, zip lines, and other challenges and had to be asked to wait up for my younger son. But my younger son held his own, only needing some help with getting his line over a high spot he couldn’t reach a few times. For the majority of the course, the boys kept one hand on the line they were hooked to (from their chest up to a wire above) and used the other hand to steady or guide themselves along the obstacles.
Make it a Family Adventure
My husband and I were perched at an overlook near the course, giving us good views. Our guide had encouraged us beforehand to express our enthusiasm but to leave the instructional part to him, which makes total sense.
We cheered the boys on and resisted our urges to yell “grab that” and “your other left hand.” The course was completely in shade during our midday adventure, but at other points in the day it may get sun. The overlook did not have any shade.
Our visit took about an hour. Ahead of time, I was concerned that my adventure-loving older son would think the course was too easy and that my younger son would be too scared to even try it. We found it to be a great activity with both boys, and they both declared it a huge thumbs up.
Know Before You Go
- The Terrapin Explorer course costs $27 for one hour. Children must be 5 to 9 years old, at least 42 inches tall, and less than 275 lbs. Reserve in advance to guarantee a spot (12 spots are available for each time slot).
- The 5 to 9 age range is a good guide, but parents should consider their child’s physical abilities and temperament for this activity.
- Terrapin Adventures is open year-round, with longer hours in warmer weather. The Terrapin Explorer program is available generally on weekends.
- Note that online maps and GPS may be incorrect. Directions are available on the Terrapin Adventures website, and we found it easy to get to with great signage from I-95 right into the parking lot.
- Parents are allowed to use the course if accompanied by a child. But as our guide pointed out, it can change the dynamic to have parents so close by, and kids often do better with instruction from an outsider.
- The Terrapin Adventures office is located within Savage Mill, an old textile mill that now houses shops. We browsed a clock shop and a magic shop, and also noticed a bead store and other artsy vendors. For a bite to eat, Rams Head Tavern, a bakery, and another eatery are all part of Savage Mill. We also passed some stores and fast food places between I-95 and the mill.
- Group experiences (scouts, field trips, etc.) can be booked. Also offered are birthday parties, summer camps, and adventures for when schools are closed.
Photo Courtesy Terrapin Adventures Website