What’s Wrong with Thrill Rides?

Over the years, I've heard various thoughts, opinions, etc. regarding how different adventure activities are regarded. “That's nothing more than a thrill ride.” “Don't expect any meaningful outcomes from that.” “Now, THAT'S experiential learning at its best!” I even read an article recently that tossed ALL ropes course experiences into the purely “thrill” pile (yeah, that wasn't a biased article!)


I've been involved in adventure-based programming for close to 20 years. I'll even admit at one time being guilty of experiential “snobbery,” thumbing my nose at the “thrill rides” in favor for activities “where the real growth occurs.”

That was, until I helped run a zipline at a colleague's facility. One day, face to face with dozens of participants working through their own personal challenges, and I was sold. I had to get a zipline for my camp. In 2013, my wish came true, and our zipline sent over 20,000 zips our first year!

In my opinion, it's not so much the activity itself, but how you facilitate it. If my client is looking for an exciting, recreational experience, what's wrong in providing it? If the client is looking for something deeper, my instructors can be intentional in looking for ways to tie in their experience with their stated goals. Regardless of client goals, my instructors are trained facilitators, have an understanding of Challenge by Choice®, and are intentional in the delivery of our various programs.

“Challenge by Choice” is a Registered Trademark of Project Adventure.

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