Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ties that bind

"Ties that bind"
Sun.Star Davao, Nov. 8, 2009

What can make you “fly” at 200 feet high and at the speed of 100 kph?

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s The Xcelerator zipline which is said to be the “longest and fastest zipline in Asia”!

Last Sunday, my brothers Jason and Jasper, sisters-in-law Pat and Maricel, nieces Zoe and Steff, my husband Gary, daughter Anicka and I trooped to Outland Adventure where The Xcelerator is located.

“Outland Adventure is the operational name of Project Challenge Foundation Inc. We set up the foundation 8 years ago in 2000 with the vision to build a world-class ropes course facility to primarily offer a life-impacting adventure-based program for the youth of Davao”, shares Outland Adventure director Matthew “Matt” McNeil who has been living with his wife Krystina in the Philippines for 16 years as American missionaries. They have two daughters, Josie, 12 and Jessica, 7.

Because Outland Adventure is a non-profit foundation, Matt and his co-directors wanted to develop an additional ‘economic engine’ that would provide more revenue to help meet the operational expenses.

“And, of course, we really wanted to create a new thrilling ride for people to enjoy! So, we decided to build the two-line traverse and ‘The Xcelerator’ which is our newest zipline”, Matt continues.

The Xcelerator is designed with a redundant safety factor which means that every component has a back-up system in order to make sure riders are free from danger.

After the staff helped us put on our safety gear, we boarded a makeshift wooden raft, crossed a deep river and started our short but exciting uphill hike. Matt reminded us to just take our time and walk at our own comfortable pace.

Crossing over

The adults in the group were given the option to either proceed directly to The Xcelerator or to try the traverse before meeting up to the zipline.

Since we were feeling brave that morning, we unanimously made the decision to traverse.

“The two-line traverse is a simple horizontal cable suspended at the top of the jungle canopy that people walk sideways on. It’s about 100 meters long situated 70 feet off the ground”, explains Matt.

First to cross over was Jason, followed by Gary and Jasper, then Maricel, me and Pat.
I’m glad I decided to try the traverse as it became a difficult but rewarding test of one’s ability to rise above one’s fears (literally).

It was not as easy as I imagined it to be, but it was a welcome challenge to be able to concentrate and keep my balance as I slowly but painstakingly inched my way to the site of the Xcelerator, where the kids have been waiting for close to 30 minutes.

During the briefing, the guide informed us that the traverse would only take 7 minutes but apparently, that time frame didn’t apply to the ladies of our family!

There were different reactions from our little fans as we traversed, one cheered “Yehey, malapit na si Mommy!” while another impatiently uttered “Mommy, bilisan mo. Tayo na lang naiwan!”...hahaha.


At The Xcelerator, each kid partnered with an adult and did the sitting position while the other adults assumed the “Superman” pose.

“Are you ready?”, I asked Anicka as we geared up for the ride. “Yes!”, she enthusiastically replied.

And, away we went!!

For approximately 30 seconds, we descended along a steep jungle-faced cliff while being suspended for 200 feet. It was mixed feelings for me as waves of exhilaration and awe overcame my exhaustion. Below us we can see the lush forest and the large fresh water lake as the wind swept our faces and greeted us.

I have not tried the zipline in Camp Sabros (Kapatagan, Davao del Sur) and Eden Nature Park (Toril) yet. So, I consider my first time at the The Xcelerator as an incredible and memorable experience. And, to be able to do a tandem zipline with my daughter Anicka who is just 7 years old, is just priceless.

The two-line traverse and The Xcelerator are open from 8am-5pm, Saturday to Sunday. Fee is P300.

Largest ropes course facility

Aside from the two amazing attractions, Outland Adventure, which is the Philippines’ largest ropes course facility, also offers a specialized program for families that mainly incorporates low level games. It has dozens of activities that both the young and old can enjoy.

“By its very design, a ropes course facility is intended to challenge people in two distinct areas: team building and overcoming personal barriers”, points out Matt who together with wife Krystina are also the owners and directors of Mercy Maternity Center, a charity laying-in maternity clinic serving impoverished families. Their midwife staff has delivered over 13,000 babies since its establishment in 1996.

Outland Adventure likewise offers tailored programs for civic organizations, NGOs, churches, volunteer organizations, private schools, barangays, government agencies, foundations, among others.

“In addition to the individuals that comprise our governing board of directors, the principal sponsors of Outland Adventure are Davao Light & Power Co. and The Aboitiz Group Foundation that sponsors local high school youth to attend our 3-day Great Adventure Camps. Coke and Powerade is also a sponsor of the new Xcelerator zipline”, cites Matt.

Ties that bind

According to Matt, the real intrigue of a ropes course program is what they call the high elements. Participants are harnessed into safety equipment and belayed and guided through a series of high challenges. Each participant is faced with a perception of risk that is obviously associated with the fact they are suspended fairly high off the ground.

“Once he or she reconciles their predicament by realizing they are safe and cannot fall then they can complete the task. It’s a lot of fun and people laugh with jubilation once they address their fears and realize they can step beyond their perceived personal limitations. It’s a very practical life-growth experience that can be transferred to all areas in life whether it is home, school, work or any situation”, divulges Matt.

“As with our corporate team building programs, the specialized program for families features games which also address the primary core issues of trust and encourage families to better communicate and plan how to solve certain tasks”, illustrates Matt.

“All of our team building and family programs require group reservations. We prefer group sizes of at least 20 people. We will work closely with each group to create and modify the program according to their interests and objectives. Basically, a group can create their own program. Since Filipino families are usually large, this is a great opportunity to get the entire extended family involved. It’s a family bonding activity that you will never forget!”, Matt guarantees.

Outland Adventure is located in Diversion Road, Barangay Langub, Ma-a, Davao City (just across GAP Farm and near the ‘Twin Rocks’) with telephone no. 2245855/cellphone no: (0918)6184330. Email address: Website:

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