Adrenaline rushes through your veins as you climb the two-story stairs that take you to the zip line. Moments ago, peering up from the ground, you thought, “That’s not that high.” Now as you look down, the length of the two side-by-side zip lines — 65 feet long and 45 feet above the ground — intimidate. But sometimes the only way out of something is to go through it — and you take a step off the platform, just as countless others have done once they arrive at the Adventure Ministries course at Epworth By The Sea. The sensation is thrilling, and you understand why families and friends from all over make the same leap of faith.
The Rev. Jay Hanson started Adventure Ministries at Epworth By the Sea in the 1980s, with a goal to bring people together through teamwork and skill-building. He also hoped they would have fun and step outside their comfort zone, too. “I started Adventure Ministries because I wanted people coming to the Golden Isles to have a fun exciting way to develop their relationship with themselves, others, and God by creating memories they would never forget,” he says.
Zip lining was added to Adventure’s course about 10 years ago. Open year round, the zip line area attracts all kinds of folks — who meet the age and height requirements — with the busiest seasons during the spring and summer months. While touring the course, Hanson chuckled to himself, recalling one group who gave the zip-line a chance. “We received a call asking if a group of seniors could come by and do the zip line. We said ‘Sure’ — expecting it to be high school or college seniors — when a large bus pulled up with senior citizens! The first person to go on the zip line was around 85 years old,” Hanson says.
Businesses use the course as a way of team-building, skill-building, and teaching employees about overcoming obstacles. Families will book the course as a way to strengthen their bonds with one another. It’s also a fun activity to do if people are visiting on vacation, for family reunions, or pre-wedding festivities.
Safety is of utmost priority, of course, and there are two people who man the zip line course during your time in the trees. The two facilitators communicate via walkie-talkies to be prepared for any situation. The first straps you in at the top of the zip line tower — double checking the safety clip is secured and two more safeties are properly latched — before sending you flying through the canopy to the other side, where the second safety crew member is there to catch you.
There’s also the harness that goes around the bottom half of your midsection, through your legs, and buckles together. Helmets are provided, too. And for those who are a bit nervous going on the zip line, the Adventure course offer obstacles low to the ground, which gives them the opportunity to see if they are up to try it on a higher level … literally.
Hanson says the goal of Adventure Ministries, including the zip line, is to push people to their limits and help them discover that they are capable of more than they think they are. “If people are saying they can’t do something, we tell them to keep going. As soon as they say they don’t want to do it, we let them stop. We want to show that you are capable of doing more than you think you can.”
If you’re interested in experiencing the thrills of Adventure Ministries and the zip lining course, go to adventureministries.org.