It started when Daley asked, “Mom, will you do the high ropes course with me?” As I prepared to step off the 30-foot platform and travel by gravity while suspended from a precarious zip line cable, I realized our roles had reversed. Rather than creating opportunities for my child to grow and develop, my child was creating these opportunities for me.
Despite knowing that I was attached to two separate cables with hefty carabineers and a snug harness, it was nerve racking to be hovering in the treetops. Half way through the course, it had started to rain and the sheets of precipitation obstructing my eyes and the force of my grip didn’t help the matter.
At one point, while teetering on the edge of the zip line platform and looking around for an escape ladder, I probed the helper, “What happens if I can’t do this?” Rather than sheepishly ask the people waiting behind me to reverse their course, I opted to take the leap.
It was exhilarating.
Free Fun for a Day
Wolf Ridge Environmental Center in Finland, just 70 miles northeast of Duluth, has an open house each summer (dates vary each year so check their website). On this day, it opens its 2,000 beautiful acres and facilities to folks free-of-charge. Activities include tours, live animal meet and greets, canoeing, hiking, adventure ropes course, indoor rock climbing, and visiting the organic farm that supplies fresh food to the dining hall.
We took a tour with Peter Smerud, Executive Director, to learn more about the educational opportunities for students and families. The kids got a kick out of exploring the voyageur classroom and pretending to be woodland caribou, which we learned used to be present in Minnesota.
Then, while Daley and I hiked over to the ropes course to test my adventure resolve, Finley and Tim peeled off to rock climb. Finley reported that it is hard to keep climbing when your hands are sweaty (I could totally relate from my high ropes experience – ha!).
Next we visited with the educational animals: a raven, a porcupine, a red-tailed hawk, a chicken, a great horned owl, and a Northern saw whet owl. The kids thought it was amusing when Thistle, the porcupine, loudly munched the thimbleberry leaves.
Open House, Open Opportunities
The day provided a glimpse into this well-run environmental learning center as well as some outdoor family fun. A big thank you to Peter and the rest of the staff for opening our eyes to the outdoor learning possibilities offered at Wolf Ridge.
And a big thank you to Daley, my almost 10-year-old, who expanded my low-altitude attitude by simply asking me to join him on an adventure.
Have you visited Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center? Share your experiences in the comment box below. Thanks!