We are on a journey. Of getting back to our roots. Of playing more. Of finding a life that truly makes us happy. Of inner peace and security.
In 2012, we decided to take a leap and make a change. We had visited other canopy tours and adventure parks in other countries and states and felt the local area could really benefit from such a fantastic experience. And so could we. So we decided to build one. On our own. In the backyard.
Luckily, we have a really big back yard!
Our farm, Sandy River Retreat, sits on about 24 acres of land. It houses 4 log cabins, 1 cottage, 6 Tipis, a workshop, several pastures, a little pond, and an adventure park! We have dedicated our land, our home, to our new business. We enlisted the help of some friends in the ropes course industry, and began building. Planning started in October of 2011, running around the woods, scouting trees and planning obstacles. 9 months later, in June of 2012, we opened! At the time Sandy River Outdoor Adventure had 4 courses: 1 each of Yellow, Green, Blue, and Black, starting with the children’s course and getting progressively harder and higher as you moved on.
In the early stages, it was just Mark and Candice, owners, and a very small staff operating the Adventure Park. Quickly though, we grew.
In the spring of 2013 we decided it was time to expand. We wanted to take our Adventure Park and help it find its roots, they way it had helped us find ours.
Adventure Parks and Canopy Tours spring from the traditional Challenge Course, or Ropes Course. Developed originally as a training ground for military personnel, they quickly began to gain popularity in the outdoor education industry and began to be used by organizations such as NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) and Outward Bound and others in the group and team development arenas. To make an entire history a little shorter, know that the whole concept is centered around the thought that one learns best by doing. In a natural setting, faced with challenges that are both physical, emotional, and mental, great change can happen. We wanted to be a part of that. We wanted to help groups and individuals realize and develop their full potential, over come obstacles, and learn through play. We wanted to take our Adventure Park, back to its challenge course roots, so we developed a group centered team building program and built a low ropes course.
That winter, before the opening of our 2014 season, we grew some more. First we built a new course. We now have 6 courses in the Adventure Park, 2 yellow, 2 green, 1 blue and 1 black. Next, we wanted to be able to offer more adventures. To expose people to more types of outside play, and make it easy to spend time outdoors adventuring. We began the Canoe and Kayak Outfitters, with guided or non-guided rentals on either The Sandy River Fishing Reservoir or The Appomattox River. And, we opened High Bridge Bikes, Rentals and Repairs, allowing folks to finally rent trail cruiser bikes or mountain bikes for High Bridge State Park’s 30+ miles of trail!
At the same time as our outfitters and rentals services were taking off, we began to take a long hard look at our town, our goals, and our mission. We felt something was missing. We wanted a space, a place, where like minded people could gather for, and supply, their adventures. We needed a central hub, an adventure headquarters, a gear shop, and we found one. Right on Main Street in Downtown Farmville, in the middle of the Green Front Furniture complex, next to an entrance to High Bridge Trail, across the street from the Appomattox River, and neighboring several great locally owned shops, cafes, and restaurants, stood our new home. All it needed was a little TLC. We began the renovation process in the late summer, and turned the once North Gate Service Station, into The Outdoor Adventure Store.
Our Journey has seen many twists and turns. There have been some bumps and hills, but there have also been stretches of flat, easy, and exciting terrain. It has been and will continue to be, an adventure. Most recently, we have completed the construction of our newest endeavor. Our first luxury glamping tipi is completed! We are excited that our journey has culminated to this point, and even more thrilled to see where it goes next. Through it all, our Journey IS the Destination.