By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: July 6, 2019 | 12:30 p.m.
Region’s newest adventure park welcomes patrons
PRINCE GEORGE – Outdoor enthusiasts and those curious about what the canopy of Scott Memorial Park’s mature trees look like up close are flocking to Prince George as Tree Time Adventures, the region’s newest outdoor adventure park opens its doors for the first time, roughly six months after receiving final approval on the project from the county.
Keeping his commitment from May, John Bogue and Tree Time Adventures held a soft opening on July 1 to allow the park to begin entertaining patrons and get operations going before a formal grand opening at a later date, weeks after classes wrapped for the year in Prince George and across the Commonwealth.
Since the park’s conception, developers eyed having three prongs of offerings for visitors across the 100-plus acres of land Bogue is leasing from the county.
The primary feature will be the tree-top experiences that the park’s name alludes to, which consists of an obstacle course that moves through the trees of Scott Memorial Park connected via a series of bridges. In addition, elements such as tightropes, jungle bridges, crab walks, and zip lines will be part of the roughly 30-acre footprint the tree-top adventure will rest on within the over 100 acres of property leased by Bogue.
Tree Time Adventures will also showcase a “Junior Adventure,” which is similar to the primary tree-top experience, except it is closer to the ground and a bit less challenging, aimed at younger park patrons.
The final element of Tree Time Adventures is ground-based as the outdoor park utilizes the earth and soil around the trees to create a number of ground courses. Those courses, according to Bogue, include military-style fitness trails, which creates a prime opportunity for special events, such as family fun runs, charity runs, and other outdoor events.
It’s been nearly roughly a year since Bogue made his first pitch to Prince George County after failing to find support in Dinwiddie for the project, as leaders there liked the park but struggled to support for the location.
Last week, as he and staff continued to make final preparations, Bogue said he and his family were excited to get the park open for the community to enjoy as he recounted the journey to reach opening day.
“It has been my vision for the last couple of years,” he said. “We tried to get something going in Dinwiddie and, although the county was receptive to the idea, they didn’t like the site we had chosen due to some traffic concerns. We were fortunate that Prince George welcomed the idea. It was only a couple days after Dinwiddie turned us down that [Prince George] county administrator reached out to us and said they would really like for you to build the park over in Prince George.”
He continued, “Scott Memorial Park is a beautiful property,” added he “would have loved” to own the property but, due to the lease agreement, the county retains ownership of the 100-plus acres the adventure park and surrounding trails reside on. “But we are glad to be there, either way.”
Weeks earlier, crews at Tree Time Adventures worked to get the road and other improvements in place ahead of this month’s soft opening.
Speaking candidly, Bogue said he was looking to do something different from his past business ventures – specifically something that is geared toward families, raising five children between himself and his girlfriend.
“I want to live and I want to live healthy,” he said. “I think for a lot of people, especially people my age, they feel the need to exercise but, when I think about my longest mile, it was on a treadmill. This type of setup gives us a chance to get out and enjoy nature, have fun, and get that exercise that doesn’t necessarily feel like exercise.”
Throughout 2018, the look of the park beyond the tree-top adventure highlighted conversations between local leaders and the community, who wished to see trails and other elements incorporated into the park’s design separate from the tree-based experience and free of charge. Last week, Bogue noted that Tree Time Adventures is far more than just a tree-top experience.
“If you look at our logo, it says that we are a tree-top adventure park and fitness center,” he said. “That is really the direction we are moving toward, finding a way to get great fitness into our lives and have it be something that is fun. It can take motivation and dedication to make yourself to go to the gym. I don’t want that to be the experience at Tree Time Adventures. I want the people in the area to be able to say, ‘Hey, what do you want to do today? Let’s go to Tree Time, they always have something fun happening there.’”
“It is going to take time for some of our ideas to evolve and it takes resources,” Bogue continued. “We have been fortunate to do one heck of a build out just for the initial opening but, it is my plan to take the revenue that is generated from the tree-top portion of the park and put that revenue back into Scott Memorial Park and Tree Time Adventures. I think it is going to be very exciting to bring some new and exciting things to the area.”
“Ultimately, if you listen to your clientele and you are receptive to their needs, they tend to drive the project,” he added. “I want to provide the community with things that the community wants, and they may not know what they want initially, but we will try different things. It has been my experience with every business I have owned is you have to be constantly trying to find ways to reinvent yourself.”
Over the course of the park’s development, some residents also expressed concerns about safety at the park. Bogue reiterated that park patrons will be using a state-of-the-art harness system that is safer than the traditional three-point harness system used by most parks, a point he detailed during a regional tourism event in Dinwiddie in May.
Tree Time Adventures operators Lesly and John Bogue chat with Prince George Board of Supervisors member Marlene Waymack at a tourism event.
“We are using more of a European model because it is a more mature model,” Bogue detailed. “Some of the things we are doing are safer. We talk about belay – the way we attach to the cabling system of the park. Most of our competitors out there use a system where they have carabiners where they click in and out and, as you move from one element to another, you actually have to unhook and re-attach your belay system in order to keep yourself safe.”
He continued, “If you do that in the right steps, it is safe. Unfortunately, it can get confusing and often times we find that using some of the older methods, especially with younger people, they find themselves in the trees and they are not tied in,” explaining Tree Time Adventures would utilize a “continuous belay” system and a five-point harness system, as opposed to the three-point harness system used by some facilities, which utilize the waist and legs.
“Once you are hooked into our system, there is no way for you to get out of it until you reach the end or until we physically come up and release you from the system,” Bogue said. “Although the three-point harness is pretty safe, the risk there, if for some reason you were to get inverted, there can be some risks involved with having only three points of contact.”
While a specific date for a formal grand opening hasn’t been set yet, Bogue invites the community in Prince George and throughout the region to visit Tree Time Adventures as the summer settles in and the sprawling trees of Scott Memorial Park provide a cooling and shading canopy to visitors.
“Come out and enjoy our build with your family,” he said. “Come out and enjoy nature and walk our trails. You don’t have to spend money to enjoy the beauty of this park.
To lean more about Tree Time Adventures, visit their website at http://treetimeadventures.com.