Sky Trail® adventure course helps children’s museum reach wider audience

The entrance to the 2 level Sky Trail® ropes course at the Terre Haute Children's Museum

TERRE HAUTE – In 1988, two area science teachers started the Terre Haute Children’s Museum in the basement of a local church. It was a mission to create a dynamic learning environment for the area youth. Fast forward 35 years later and the museum is thriving thanks to a team dedicated to enriching lives through play and exploration.

Adventure Ropes Course Addition

RCI Adventure Products is proud to be playing a role in that mission. From the humble beginnings of a basement, the museum expanded into a 3-story, 27,000 square foot facility in downtown Terre Haute in 2010. In 2018, RCI installed a 2-level Sky Trail® course, including a Sky Rail®. The course helped the museum bridge a gap in its target audience.
From its inception, the museum was intended to reach children into their early teens. What they discovered was it appealed mostly to younger children.
“We topped out at 8- and 9-year-olds,” said Operations Director Jamie McDowell. “That made it increasingly difficult to visit as a full family.”
McDowell said that while a 5-year-old may be entertained, the museum had trouble appealing to a 14-year-old, for example. It was out of this challenge that McDowell and other museum officials began exploring options to increase interest to a wider age range.

Ropes Course Inspiration

On a business trip to Pigeon Forge, TN, McDowell found an opportunity get on a ropes course that was built over an arcade. As he looked over the course and noticed how it took advantage of the unused spaces of the building, it sparked an idea. What about adding a ropes course to the children’s museum?
He took the idea for a ropes course back to Terre Haute and while it took some time and convincing, they eventually agreed and reached out to RCI Adventure Products. In 2018 the Terre Haute Children’s Museum officially opened its ropes course.
McDowell thought the installation could present some challenges, as the new facility was already built and retrofitting it with a 30-foot tall course may be difficult. RCI Adventure Products has 30-plus years of experience in the design, manufacture and installation of ropes courses, both indoor and outdoor. Many installations present variables unique to the property or facility, but RCI’s team custom designs and engineers its courses specific to a customer’s needs.
McDowell said the ropes course has helped the museum achieve its goal of appealing to a wider age range.
“It has helped attract to older kids and it’s done a lot of nice things for us,” he said.
In addition, it brought in a new revenue stream and took advantage of the building’s existing footprint. After five years, McDowell added the course is still in great shape. The museum staff does an excellent job with regular inspections and maintenance.

Maximizing Facility Footprint with Ropes Course

“We run into this a lot where customers have 25- or 30-foot ceilings heights, but all their attractions are on the ground,” said Zack Loeprich, Marketing Manager for RCI Adventure Products. “It’s empty, unused real estate that they could be taking advantage of.”
Many playground-type play structures have limited appeal to older children and adults. An RCI Sky Trail® course not only utilizes those unused spaces, but has a far greater age appeal.
“Our Sky Trail® courses are designed to be accessible for a wide age range,” Loeprich said. “Children, teens, young adults, parents, grandparents … we see them all get on our courses, and they love it. Our adventure courses are designed for the entire family to enjoy.”

Visit the Terre Haute Children’s Museum

Entry onto the Terre Haute Children’s Museum course is a separate charge from museum entry and costs non-members $7. The museum and course are open Wednesday-Sunday, with hour varying. Please check its website for admission, hours and news: