Monthly Archives: December 2015

Our year so far…

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We’re glad to say, 2015 has been quite a year – and for all the right reasons!

There’s nothing better than reflecting on the past 12 months and thinking: “Yes! We achieved so much in those 52 weeks!” and feeling proud, nostalgic, and inspired for the New Year.

As always, we’ve had our fair share of monkeying around and living the high life – if we were to list ALL of our most memorable moments, this blog post would turn into something resembling a short novel. So, we’ve come up with a few of our super-duper proud memories to share with you as the year draws to a close…

Ben Fogle This Morning#ShareAdventure campaign

We had to start off this list with our phenomenal #ShareAdventure campaign, which really was a resounding success! Launching in the summer, we set about to spread adventure across the nation by encouraging you to share your adventurous moments through your Instagram snaps. You showed us you were quite an adventurous bunch!

Ben Fogle also supported the campaign, talking to us directly about his own adventures. “Each one defines me as a person,” he said. “Adventure maketh the person.” We couldn’t agree more, Ben!

Tree top wedding – and engagement!

Go Ape WeddingLove was well and truly in the (very fresh) air at Go Ape this year! A lovely couple from Southampton said their vows 40 feet off the ground in the tree tops of Go Ape Aberfoyle, and the bride even wore a custom-made dress that was designed to incorporate the Go Ape harness!

A huge congrats also to Ollie and Selina – Ollie recently popped the question at Go Ape Forest of Dean! Luckily, he wasn’t barking up the wrong tree and Selina said YES! What can we say? We’re a place where dreams come true!

Our 5 millionth customer!

Our 5 millionth customer means we need to say 5 million whopping enormous “thank yous” to all you lovely people who have chosen to live life adventurously at Go Ape. Back in August, Claire Haigh became the official 5 millionth customer to join our tribe, so we surprised her with a troop of Gorillas, accompanied by a live rendition of the Jungle Book’s ‘King of the Swingers’. Inflatable bananas, of course, made an appearance too! Here’s to the next 5 million! If you missed it check out the video below:

Sponsoring Nikki Curwen’s Transatlantic Voyage

We were super honoured to be the official lead sponsor for Nikki Curwen’s 2015 transatlantic voyage. Covering over 3,000 miles of sailing in her Mini 747 dinghy, we were so proud of her for coming 12th out of 43, and finishing the first woman. Nikki is an adventurer through and through, so for Go Ape to sponsor her seemed more than a perfect match. Re-live her journey here.

Battersea Park opening

Finally, you may have heard us mention it once or twice – that’s because we are SO excited to announce that our Go Ape Battersea Park officially opened this month! We can’t believe there is now a Go Ape in the centre of London – and the highest obstacle crossings are double the height of most Go Ape courses. Are you up for the challenge?Battersea Park Tree Top Adventure

As you can see, there’s been plenty to shout from the tree tops about. But let’s not forget something: there’s still a couple of weeks left of 2015… which means there’s plenty more time to squeeze in another adventure or two!

Brr-illiant ways to keep the kids happy this Christmas

Go Ape Tree Top Junior Weekends

Searching for a cure for cabin fever? You’ve come to the right place!

Just because it’s not 25 degrees and blue skies out there doesn’t mean you have to go into hibernation mode and only think of indoor activities to do with the kids. Everyone loves being in the great outdoors, and there’s nothing like getting wrapped up warm and taking your little monkeys outside. No one wants to spend all winter cooped up!

With that in mind, we’ve come up with the following activities to avoid going stir crazy – all of which will get kids (and big kids) super excited during the season of yuletide!

Go ice skating

At this time of year, there’s bound to be an outdoor ice rink near you, promising lots of slippery fun! Around age four or five is a good time for your kids to try skating for the first time. Hold hands and watch as your little one’s confidence builds with each lap. You could even treat the family to a cheeky mince pie afterwards.

Go to the beach

Ok, call us mad if you like, but we think there’s something special about walks along the shore in the winter. You’re guaranteed to practically have the beach to yourselves and, as long as you’re dressed for the occasion, you can still stop to build sand castles and draw your names in the sand with a stick – oh, and don’t forget to warm up with the flask of hot chocolate you’ve brought along with you! The question is: are you brave enough to go for a paddle?!

Go on a bike ride

Winter is a great time to head out on a family bike ride. You don’t have to go far; even cycling along the path to your local pub for a Sunday roast and back again is enough to give the kids a healthy dose of fresh air to perk them up. It’ll no doubt blow away a few cobwebs for you, too!

Go to a Christmas market

As a general rule of thumb, children and Christmas shopping don’t mix. But there’s something entirely different about a Christmas market – unlike the mayhem of department stores or shopping malls, they tend to be full of quirky, handmade items that you can marvel at with your kids. And the cinnamon and clove aromas of mulled wine filling the air, accompanied by the obligatory festive tunes, are bound to put you in the spirit.

Go Ape

There’s nowhere quite like Go Ape: whatever the weather, it has the ability to make you and your tribe feel refreshed, invigorated and raring to go! That’s why we’ve kept our Tree Top Junior courses open this winter. Maybe it’s something to do with the wind in your hair as you zip from the treetops, or the almighty unleash of your loudest Tarzan holler, but a few hours hanging out in the trees with the kids is a sure-fire way of keeping the whole family happy this Christmas! Book now to avoid disappointment!

What we’re wishing for this Christmas…

Alternative Christmas Gifts

The gifts that bring the biggest smiles to our faces are the ones that really mean something to us.

Reindeer MittensWe’re talking personalised, thoughtful and unique. Where to go for personalised, thoughtful and unique gift inspiration? Pinterest, of course! Whether you’re searching for an unusual present for that someone special, or you’re looking for things to subtly add to your wish list, we’ve scoured everyone’s favourite online pin board and have fallen head over heels with the following…

Knitted reindeer gloves

Is your gran an avid knitter? If she’s always on the hunt for a new pattern, see if she’s willing to try her hand (gettit?!) at knitting these fab reindeer mittens!

Homemade cookies in a special ‘tin’

We love a good homemade cookie – all gooey and decadent. But how about this recycling-friendly idea? Wrapped Pringle tubes in sparkly gift paper, full of homemade biccies? Something tells us that once we pop, we just won’t stop!

Transparent book weight

As you Clear Book Weightmay have guessed, we love being in the great outdoors! But sometimes, when we’re really into a good book, the flapping pages in the wind can be a tad frustrating. Enter: the see-through book weight! Why didn’t we think of this sooner?!

Personalised pebbles

How cute are these beautiful name stones? We’d love to receive these, but we’d also love to make them – choosing our favourite pebbles as we stroll along the beach would be the best bit!

Map art

We would love to receive this gift! Combining artwork for the walls with memories of countries we’ve visited on our travels… pure genius!

Homemade Twig HeartTwiggy heart

This is technically classed as a Christmas decoration, but we think it would hang proudly in our home all year round! Such a clever way of collecting and using twigs and branches (as you can imagine, we come across many of these here at Go Ape!).

Shark and mermaid blankets

Ok, these are probably designed with children in mind, but our inner kid is screaming out for these cool mermaid/shark blankets! We’d certainly be the envy of all our friends come camping season!

Silhouette pictures

These silhouette pictures are not as tricky to achieve as they look, and would make a classy and unique addition to any home (our home, hopefully!).

So, there you have it – a few special gifts we would love to receive. If you’re looking to buy that someone special in your life a prezzie to remember, then how about treating them to the gift of adventure with Go Ape gift vouchers? Allow them to release their inner Tarzan, while at the same time giving them memories that will last a lifetime! Head over to our gift experience vouchers page where you can quickly and easily purchase our gift vouchers, now with free delivery!

Go Ape Gift Vouchers

Five days in the life of an Outward Bound Trust Ambassador

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Our Corporate Events Manager, Sam Hardy, was selected to represent Go Ape as an Outward Bound Trust Ambassador for five days. Here, he tells his tale!

An inspirational trip 

Rather than a blow by blow account from day 1 to day 5, which would be like watching my trousers dry in front of a log fire (3 hours) – we should just explain why these trips are so worthwhile, and how the OBT inspire children from all backgrounds to go on to be the best that they can be.

A few students in this particular group have not had the best start in life, and aspirations for some were pretty low. To begin with, it was difficult for most to grasp the concept of ‘leave nothing but footprints and take only memories’ i.e. to leave nothing on the hills, no litter, no waste, and no damage to the environment. This was a group of individuals, not necessarily friends either, whose phrases in the embryonic stages were – ‘that’s not mine’ or ‘I can’t be bothered’ and the all-time favourite ‘why should I?.

Never providing answers

On the initial walks and climbs the group was given the task of leading the way, and navigating a route, but they were a disparate bunch. Walking for 5 minutes and stopping for 10 minutes, strung out across the hills like confetti at a wedding from last week. We discussed this as we went, asking what the issues were, and again asking how these could be solved – never providing answers. Any poor behaviour was challenged, but not the individuals themselves. E.g. “Do you think that puddle is the best place to store your sleeping bag?” That was addressed to me…

It is safe to say I found this approach quite hard, and wanted to tie shoelaces, sacrifice food, hand out dry clothes, light fires and even carry the more forlorn. These sodden creatures with heavy burdens (and massive rucksacks) surely needed some sympathy and support? Not so…

Alone in the hills

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Once they realised that after the food drop on Tuesday morning we were alone in the hills, with no Uber to call on, no phones and no hotels – they had to rely on each other for support.

On the third night after many hours of trekking in the rain, across bulging streams and boggy terrain we looked upon the Herberts. They had pitched tents, packed bags, prepared the stoves and had started cooking. I was expecting the lake to part and Moses to wander over and ask if anyone fancied a brew. Not only had they achieved the unexpected (the instructors had seen this before, but not I) they had supported each other and all without our help. These little giants are all just 13 years old – I know adults that would struggle with this task. Yes, I am Southern, and an office body…

After another outstanding ration pack of dubious content, using said spoon of great import – we embarked on a night walk. It was here at the boulder of wisdom (it is an erratic), the group discussed their progress again. This time words like “pride”, “achievement” and “teamwork” were used. Some say I shed a tear, but it was just run off from the rim of my hood.

They were starting to realise – “I can” and “we can”.

Day 4 was something I now know to be ‘type 2 fun’, (thanks Rich).

  • Type 1 – A day at a theme park – very enjoyable at the time, good memories.
  • Type 2 – An arduous journey, outside the comfort zone that is sometimes painful – but you look back in 5 months or 5 years and realise; that was fun!
  • Type 3 – An arduous journey, outside the comfort zone that is sometimes painful – but you look back and say, that was pretty fecking awful…

The troops were buoyant but pretty tired by day 4 but the rain was not relenting and the wind picking up. We were heading for Ruthwaite Lodge for the night in Grisedale valley on the side of the Helvelyn Range and some luxury – a wood stove in a brick building.

It was decided late afternoon, after the Billy goats had led the first part successfully to a waterfall crossing, that Rich and I would go ahead to the Holy Grail that was the shed of delights. This took us 2 hours to reach, across swollen rivers, over the ridge in sideways rain and guided only by the eye of Sauron across what looked like Mordor.

We made it!

We reached the Promised Land as darkness descended and the winds reached whistling pitch, to set the fire and light the stove, knowing that we had basically abandoned the Lilliputians and left them to a mauling by Mother Nature.

My estimation was that it would take a month for our clothes to dry and another 2 hours for the intrepid teenagers to get through purgatory.

With heart in mouth and socks on the dryer, there was a knock on the door an hour and a half later. Just as we were preparing to go back out and find the teenage debris, Jon was at the door requesting for room at the Inn! He was like the Pied Piper on a mission and his resilient rodents were tired but jubilant.

OBT3They filed in as if this almost impossible mission, was a mere pain in the ass to be endured before they could get at the remaining Haribo. As I choked back more rainwater from the rim of my cap, they set about changing clothes, organising bed space and cooking dinner for each other.

That evening after I had finished marvelling at the courageousness of the collective, the skill and judgement of the instructors, I realised that we are all capable of much more than we know – if we are prepared to give it a go.

Feeling proud of each other

The discussion at the table that night was open, honest, touching and at times inspirational. I think this was the moment when they truly understood the reason for the trip and the motivation behind the instructors pushing their boundaries and limits.

I think the guys got more sleep that night than the previous 3 combined, knowing what they had achieved, feeling proud of themselves and each other. Maybe for the first time in a long time…

Friday was a breeze, all be it a 40mph one, and we arrived back at Howtown safely to receive our certificates, and it has to be said, much respect from all the other instructors… On the bottom of the certificates was this caption from the Co-Founder of the OBT, Kurt Hahn;

“We are all better than we know. If only we can be brought to realise this, we may never again be prepared to settle for anything less”.     

It is the job of the team at the OBT to help us realise that we are all better than we know, and what a fantastic job they do. Much respect and many thanks to all on the trip, and all at the OBT.

Sam H

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