The excitement was palpable as we neared the entrance to Ijams Nature Center in search of an epic morning of adventures. My niece could hardly contain her enthusiasm for what was to come.
Each year as birthdays approach, my husband and I opt to gift experiences to our nieces and nephews, rather than items. My niece was finally hitting an age where the type of experiences we were able to gift were changing and we were determined to provide her an outing where she would feel like one of the big kids yet in a controlled and safe environment. Navitat was the answer.
Little did I know that I would be the one providing the adult supervision. It had been years since I had geared up and set foot on a zip-line, ropes course, or otherwise high in the sky outing, so I was anxious and eager to relive those firsts feelings with her.
We arrived a little early to the site, the Navitat flag flying bright and loud outside its entrance. With reread waivers done and checked, we headed outside to be fitted for a helmet, harness, and gloves. By this point, she was vibrating with excitement. Eight years old never felt so cool.
After some rules about the course, we were stewarded along a beautiful wooded path to the canopy course. The views were breathtaking to say the least. The harness process was simple enough for an eight-year-old to handle, and we were given ample time to practice our clip and lock skills. Off to our eco-adventure we went.
The guides at Navitat are incredibly skilled, and aside from feeling safe in our crew’s ropes course skillset, we felt even more at ease knowing our particular guide was a nurse-in-training. This would be her final summer in Knoxville before heading off to Ohio to continue her nursing path. We were grateful to have been part of her final season there.
While the crew is always within a short distance from course-goers, they provide you ample space to explore, making the Navitat adventure that much more appealing. You feel safe and supported, yet independent and confident in your abilities to handle things alone. And that can be felt across demographics of people. In the short mid-week timeframe we were there, there were course-goers spanning generations, proof that this course can be accessible enough to kids on their first “big kid” adventure, right through to those who heard about the course through their grandchildren. The course is broken into difficulty zones; it is truly for everyone.
Across rope bridges, plank walks, and zip-lines, we made our home amongst the trees for nearly two hours that morning; had we enough energy, it easily could have been four. For an eight-year-old it felt like the adventure of a lifetime. For an adventure-lover who admittedly hadn’t done this type of adventure in years, it felt like a return to my old self.
Navitat brought us a spark that morning, and we will definitely be coming back. Perhaps even to the evening course, this time just for grown-ups.