Bay View’s new Adventure Complex shows what a community can accomplish

2 Jun

George Romell, CEO of the YMCA of Greater Rochester, speaks at the dedication ceremony.

On Saturday morning I was pleased to be in the crowd as George Romell, CEO of the YMCA of Greater Rochester, and Mike Stevens, Director of the Bay View Family YMCA, officially dedicated Bay View’s new “Adventure Campus.”  The beautiful new climbing complex replaces the very popular climbing tower which was destroyed by arson a year ago this month.

And it is a thing of beauty. The new Adventure Campus features a dual zip-line tower, bouldering playground, and of course a brand new, 5-person, 36-foot tall climbing tower.

But the YMCA didn’t stop there when they planned out the new complex, and that’s one of the things I like best about it all. Everything about the Adventure Campus is completely handicap-accessible. A series of new gravel pathways leading to the campus — and even to the end of the zip-line — allows easy wheelchair access.  The bouldering playground was created with sensory-friendly material in consideration of the many autistic children who attend camp there every summer.  The zip-line tower is even equipped with a lift system, so those who cannot walk or climb stairs can be raised to the top of the tower and enjoy the exhilaration of a ride down the zip-line.

At the end of the dedication ceremony, Joe Gerard was given the honor of taking the first ride down the zip-line.  You may remember Joey; I wrote a blog or two about him.  He’s the young man who single-handedly raised more than $6,000 for the cause, $5 at a time, simply by selling hand-made woven bracelets.

There’s a plaque attached to one of the big rocks in the bouldering playground with the names of people and corporations who helped Bay View YMCA realize its dream to rebuild the tower before the 2013 camp season.  But there’s no way that plaque could include the names of every individual or business who donated money or raffle prizes, everyone who served on committees to plan special events, every preschooler who put their pennies in a jar. Because as Mike Stevens said Saturday morning, this was a community effort.

Bay View YMCA Board Chairman Wendy Latko also added something which I thought was very true. And I paraphrase (a.k.a., not getting the quote exact, but it’s pretty darn close):

My children couldn’t understand why someone would burn down the climbing wall. I tried to explain that sometimes people do bad things. It was a sad lesson. But my kids have learned an even better lesson today — that when bad things happen, people will come together to make things right.

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