Looking for some good old outdoor fall fun? Adventure Point, a new 30-acre wooded campus located in northwest Grand Rapids offering immersive adventures for all youth and adults, has just the thing.
The first annual Fall Harvest Days at Adventure Point, being held on October 17 and 18, 2020, is a family-friendly opportunity to enjoy the splendor of fall in a safe outdoor environment. Activities abound, including apple target practice on the archery range, paintball for pumpkins, snacking on some apple cider and doughnuts, a fall harvest photo shoot, a scavenger hunt and geocache trail, and a haunted trail walk—complete with s'mores.
The event will adhere to safe social distancing and strict safety guidelines, including requiring the use of masks upon entry and in any area where 6 feet of distance cannot be guaranteed.
"We know families are torn between finding fun opportunities to experience the outdoors this fall and being safe. Fall Harvest Days at Adventure Point was designed to fill both important needs!" said Kimberlee Manor, Executive Director, Adventure Point. "We are opening our trails and outdoor program areas to provide a safe, fun two-hour event for families to attend."
Manor explained the center will be conducting arrival pre-screen questionnaires and digital temp checks. Check-in will be done in your car as you arrive at the event, with each event tour group remaining at a small 10 to 12 people to avoid crowding and lines.
Adventure Point—which focuses on activities in the areas of Outdoor Program, STEM, Sustainability and Leadership—was built in 1985 to serve as the West Michigan Boy Scout Headquarters. In 2015, community partners and scouting volunteers agreed that they had a perfect opportunity to develop spaces and programs that could serve all youth and adults, not only members of the Boy Scouts of America, at this property. After launching a successful capital campaign, more than $8 million was invested in creating several improvements.
"We have the unique opportunity to own and operate an immersive learning and leadership center, offering K-12 STEM education, sustainability programs, outdoor adventures like the outdoor climbing tower—the tallest in Grand Rapids—a shooting sports pavilion for archery and BB's, two miles of beautifully groomed trails, a working solar greenhouse, and a full campsite with five modern Yurts and 10 tent sites—all just two miles north of downtown Grand Rapids," said Manor, who has been a BSA professional employee since 2007 and was the STEM Education Director for the Michigan Crossroads Council since 2015.
Improvements also included the addition of a handicap-accessible zipline built off a second-story deck accessed through the building's elevator. Indoors, the lower level of the building was completely transformed and now houses the STEM Education Lab.
"Team Building is a key component of the Scouting Program, so it was a natural opportunity to offer it to all youth and adults, regardless of membership in the BSA," said Manor whose role expanded in 2019 when Adventure Point opened and the STEM Education Program relocated there. "Offering year-round programs for all youth, including school field trips, summer day camp, and weekend programs, our staff can tailor a trip to Adventure Point for any group and any all ages."
When asked about how she felt about being a woman leading in a traditionally male-led organization, Manor notes she was well-suited to get involved.
"I married an Eagle Scout. And when my son joined Cub Scouts in first grade, it was a natural fit for me to help out—something that I really enjoyed," said Manor. "I graduated up the 'ranks' of volunteer as my son progressed through the program, and held positions that typically dads held. Often, I was just one of a couple of moms helping. Soon, I had recruited more moms than dads."
Being a woman in any male-led organization, Manor explained, offers a unique opportunity to break down historical barriers and demonstrate that our perspective adds to—does not detract from—their mission.
"My first career was in commercial risk management, a primarily male-dominated role, and in the mid-1980s, I felt more pressure to prove myself than my male peers did," Manor said, stating she didn't have that same experience in Scouting.
"I have had the great pleasure to hold several different positions in both my first Council in Wichita, Kansas, and here in the Michigan Crossroads Council, and have not felt challenged because I am a woman."
Youth need strong role models—and that has no gender.
"Treating each other with respect is the best example we can provide them, and it's why the men and women in Professional Scouting do what they do," Manor said.
Fall Harvest Days admissions is $40 for a family of up to five people, $8 for children and $15 for adults. Learn more and register at Adventure Point.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Staff Writer for West Michigan Woman.
Photo courtesy of Adventure Point.