Author’s note: This post was updated May 29 to add one area high ropes course and to mark hyperlinks clearly.
The city Parks and Recreation Department is about to enable Triangle residents to taste adventure in an otherwise sleepy neighborhood.
Construction of the new Discovery High Ropes Course at Bethesda Park wrapped up this spring. The amenity graces a 21-acre facility that already featured covered and lighted tennis and basketball courts, a disc golf course, a playground, an open play field, walking trails and restrooms when it debuted just last fall.
The park is located at 1814 Stage Road, its entrance tucked between homes on a quiet residential street. But the new feature is noteworthy. Google indicates that Bethesda Park will have just the third second high ropes course in the Triangle to be open to the general public. (The other is others are at Cary’s Fred G. Bond Metro Park and Efland’s Chestnut Ridge Camp and Retreat Center. In addition, at least one area Girl Scout camp has a course.)
While the official opening of the ropes course is scheduled for June 8 at 4:30 p.m., staff and visitors have been trying it out for some weeks. The department recently let a few reporters test the course’s towering array, which exceeds 50 feet.
Kim Oberle manages adventure programs for Parks and Recreation. She’s climbed high ropes courses on and off for more than 20 years, and she helped bring the new course to Durham.
“Some like it because they have this little thrill bone that likes going up high, because you don’t really get to do that,” Oberle said.
Others find these courses rewarding in other ways. In Oberle’s words, some older climbers say: “I really can do these things still. I’m not old.”
Purveyors also promote so-called challenge courses for team-building. And there’s evidence that high ropes facilities and their cousins do improve self-esteem and group dynamics. A 2005 survey by N.C. State professor Aram Attarian found that challenge courses can boost self-esteem, decision-making, group cohesion and family dynamics.