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Front Page - Friday, March 19, 2010

Adventure Guild focuses on “life-transforming power of adventure”

Don and Kim Stock, co-owners of the Adventure Guild, stand in front of the ZIPStream Aerial Adventure Park currently under construction at Ruby Falls. Video of the building process can be viewed at: http://www.rubyfalls.com/pages/Ruby-Falls-ZIPstream-Aerial-Adventure/ - Erica Tuggle
Wintry, rainy weather is no reason to lose your spirit of adventure. Don and Kim Stock, co-owners of Adventure Guild, say their company offers plenty of opportunities to become involved with the outdoors, no matter what the weather brings.
“As long as it is not dangerous or miserable, we will go out,” Don says. “There is no excuse for couch potatoes,” Kim says with a laugh.
The Adventure Guild owns and operates the climbing wall underneath the Walnut Street Bridge, known as the Walnut Wall, as well as the ropes course at Greenway Farms in Hixson. They also have locations in Dunlap, Tenn., Cloudland, Ga., Robbinsville, NC. and Colorado Springs, Co., with clients as far away as Hawaii and as close as the new exhibit under construction at Ruby Falls; the ZIPStream Aerial Adventure Park.
With the national success of the zipline canopy tours in Hawaii, the Stocks created the ZIPStream brand from similar European designs. Upon completion in April, this park will feature, “20 high wire challenge elements including bridge ways, tunnels, walkways, ladders, nets and zip lines, all set into three distinct courses,” Don says.
Karen Baker, director of marketing for Ruby Falls, says the Ruby Falls team reviewed other options for the unused acreage, but felt the ZIPStream Aerial Adventure Park “best” built on the natural surroundings and family adventure would compliment Ruby Falls.
“Partnering with The Adventure Guild on this project was a bonus,” Baker says. “It is awesome to have another great Chattanooga based business working alongside us on this adventure that both locals and visitors will enjoy.”
Unlike the traditional ropes courses, which are too labor and staff intensive and not cost effective for the individual, Don says, the ZIPStream Aerial Adven-ture Park can be used for personal challenge and recreation and will cater to the constant calls he receives from individuals that want to do a ropes course on their own.
“This park is designed primarily for individuals or families to get together and have fun, and doesn’t require an established group, “ Don says.
Although, the Stocks are excited about their new addition, they say they are a company with so much more to offer.
Prior to purchasing The Adventure Guild in 2005, the couple was in youth ministry for 15 years, wherein they discovered adventure programming. From there they ran a program for five years called Vertical Reality Adventures.
While the Adventure Guild offers services in all manner of activities such as rock climbing, backpacking, caving, canoeing and more, their highest percentage of business comes from the team building retreats they do with schools, ministries and corporations all over the regional Southeast, from Atlanta to Birmingham and everywhere in-between.
Beginners need not fear getting involved in Adventure Guild programs. There are different levels of courses and activities, from those just starting up to the seasoned adventure enthusiast.
All courses are unique, Kim says, in that they are designed to fit whatever the individual wants out of their experience whether it be a themed adventure, one tailored to the needs of those with physical disabilities or an outing for a college fraternity.
“Every retreat is kind of like a fingerprint. They are all so different and incredible,” Kim says. “Everyone leaves with something amazing that we can look at and say, ‘Wow, that was a great experience,’ and I was part of that.”
Kim says corporate retreats can be held up in the air on an outdoor course or grounded on-site at the client’s location. The corporation retreats work much like the other team building retreats offered, but the participants take away from the experience knowledge that they are able to use directly in the office.
“The activities bring to a head awareness of what workers are bringing to the organization, and how their team is functioning together,” she says. “It’s an opportunity for them to see for themselves the things that are creating problems in the office, because they are creating problems on the course.”
While the tools and activities the Adventure Guild uses are fun, they are not the focus of the experience, Don says.
“The ropes course and the cliff face are just tools to help engage the people, but it is the people that make what we do so amazing and exciting,” he says.
One of the main focuses for the Adventure Guild is to show its clients the “life transforming power of adventure.”
“Increasingly, our culture keeps people inside, over stimulated with technology and divorced from being out of their comfort zone ... but we create boundaries and comfort zones that limit us as people, and so very often the only time we grow is through hardship and difficulty,” Don says.
He says adventure is a strategic way to intentionally push those boundaries, placing the individual outside of their comfort zone, which in turn allows opening up to growth socially, spiritually and relationally.
“Well facilitated adventure is one of the most powerful tools of life change,” Don says.
And the weather should be perfect for it.