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Adrenaline adventures: Dare to experience wild thrills, from serene to extreme

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It’s time to buckle in. A pursuit of learning from new speeds has spawned an abundance of adventure activities designed specifically for students, from the heights of some of the world’s tallest roller coasters to the depths of whitewater below a raft.

Not only does the edge of students’ comfort zones keep them engaged, but it’s one of the best ways to learn subjects like math and physics, and how to work together as a team. If the group is ready for some action-packed excitement, strap on some safety gear. Kick thrills and fun into overdrive with the following four adrenaline adventures.


ArborTrek Canopy Adventures
Jeffersonville, Vermont

Zip lining, ArborTrek Canopy Adventures, Stowe, Vt.

Photo: ArborTrek Canopy Adventures Zip lining, ArborTrek Canopy Adventures, Stowe, Vt.

Every day, up to 200 participants seek thrills at ArborTrek Canopy Adventures, located at Smugglers’ Notch Resort. The adventure-based company offers a series of student-friendly challenges designed for all abilities and grade levels.

“Students can soar through a northern hemlock forest on our award-winning zip line canopy tour, where they’ll learn about local ecology and the lore of the Notch,” said Michael R. Smith, president of ArborTrek Canopy Adventures. “Or, they can be challenged on more than 90 elements on our treetop obstacle course and climbing adventure.”

The Zip Line Canopy Tour is a 2 ½-  to 3-hour guided adventure with eight zip lines, two bridges and two rappels.

The Treetop Obstacle Course & Climbing Adventure tackles more than 90 elements ranging from easy to extreme. The course includes tree climbs, wobbly bridges, swings and zip lines.

There’s also Adventure-Based Team Building, where students engage in a series of real and imaginary obstacles designed to test their communication, planning and ability to create a shared vision. Half-day and multi-day custom programs can be tailored to meet a variety of group goals.

ArborTrek specializes in delivering novel adventure experiences designed to
educate, entertain and inspire,” Smith said. “Program outcomes commonly include a shared sense of community, improved self-confidence, personal accomplishment and shared vision.”

A second ArborTrek location is located at Fall Creek Falls State Park near Spencer, Tennessee.


Cedar Point
Sandusky, Ohio

Valravn, Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio

Photo: Cedar Point Valravn, Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio

Cedar Point is home to 71 rides, including 18 of the world’s most noteworthy roller coasters, like the new world-record-breaking Steel Vengeance. At 205 feet tall and speeds up to 74 mph, Steel Vengeance is the world’s tallest, fastest and longest “hyper-hybrid” roller coaster. It’s expected to open this year.

But there’s so much more than coasters. Cedar Point is home to some of the biggest adrenaline-inducing thrill rides in the world, including Skyhawk, the world’s largest swing ride.

“It doesn’t matter what your adrenaline level is — there’s something for every thrill-seeker,” said Marcie Sandine, youth sales representative at Cedar Point. “Cedar Point offers a variety of youth programs to suit all ages. From educational days, such as Engineering Day, and Physics, Science, & Math Week, to performance options for school musical groups, to senior class trips and after-prom outings, or just a class field trip for any grade level, we offer something for everyone.”

Performance options are available for marching bands, concert bands, symphonic bands and choirs. These groups have the opportunity to play in front of thousands of park guests, whether that’s on a performance stage or while marching down the midway.

“It’s a great way for students to practice their craft, entertain guests and then enjoy a day of fun with each other,” Sandine said. “We’re happy to work with you to customize a student trip of any type. The memories students make here together are unforgettable.”


Whitewater Excitement
Lotus, California

Rafting, Whitewater Excitement, Lotus, Calif.

Photo: Whitewater Excitement Rafting, Whitewater Excitement, Lotus, Calif.

For nearly 40 years, Whitewater Excitement has been leading California rafting trips. With the help of trained staff, students can take on trips ranging from a half day to two days, with camping and meals included.

“While paddling, rafters must work as a team to successfully complete each rapid,” said Phillip Schoenhoff, operations manager for Whitewater Excitement. “Students may step out of their comfort zone, but we believe that this, mixed with having fun on the river and sitting around a campfire in the company of others, are all ingredients for a great bonding experience they will never forget.”

Trips are designed to encourage participation, inspire confidence and challenge students to explore their full potential. The outfitter offers a private camp area with amenities on the banks of the South Fork of the American River.

“Students have the opportunity to swim certain rapids, play games and even try their hand at steering the raft,” Schoenhoff said.

Several different trips are offered to student groups, described on Whitewater Excitement’s website. Student groups are offered reduced rates.

“We strive to have each guest at Whitewater Excitement come away with a new understanding, love and knowledge for rivers and the outdoors,” Schoenhoff said. “We hope each experience is unique and positive, and we want to show that the outdoors can be a fantastic learning environment.”


Outdoor Gravity Park
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Outdoor Gravity Park, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

Photo: Outdoor Gravity Park Outdoor Gravity Park, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

At the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, Outdoor Gravity Park features zorbing, an adventure activity that began in New Zealand. Zorbing involves climbing inside an OGO, an 11-foot transparent sphere constructed from plastic, and then rolling down a hill inside of it.

“Outdoor Gravity Park is an exciting place to visit because it’s super fun and unique,” said Jesse McGhee, general manager at Outdoor Gravity Park. “A lot can be learned in physics, momentum, math, relativity, and of course, gravity. It’s a great opportunity to combine learning with fun.”

H2OGO is wet and wild, and the most popular way to roll down the hill. About 10 gallons of water is added to the OGO — cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The water makes the OGO slippery, so the riders slide around inside while the sphere revolves around them.

“We have four tracks to choose from: two straight tracks built for speed, one Extreme Zig Zag track, and a combo-track we call the FUNnel,” McGhee said. “It has elements of the other tracks combined into one track — it’s by far the most popular.”

Students should bring their swimsuits and towels. Dry zorbing is available in the fall, winter and early spring, but only for rolls on the Speed Demon (straight track).

“We hope students take away some unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime — with a better understanding of physics and better perspective of relativity,” McGhee said.

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About Author

Cortney Erndt, Associate Editor

Cortney Erndt oversees Student Group Tour magazine and contributes to all Group Tour Media publications, online and in print. She has an affinity for adventure travel; find her on a sky ledge — maybe sky diving — and reporting on it. Her favorite destinations connect cityscapes with captivating culture and good coffee.

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