National Harbor to open outdoor adventure area July 10

Megan Mornini of Rockville glides out of a lighthouse on a zip line during a test Tuesday of the outdoor adventure attraction.
Megan Mornini of Rockville glides out of a lighthouse on a zip line during a test Tuesday of the outdoor adventure attraction. (John Mcdonnell/the Washington Post)
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By Ovetta Wiggins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 24, 2010

It might have been the dozens of teenagers and young adults jumping up and down in the middle of the dirt field that got the attention of tourists and residents at National Harbor. Or it could have been Athina Nungovitch's screams of "Oh my God, this is ridiculous!"

Guests in the Wyndham Vacation Resorts peered over their balconies and children peeked through the wooden gate to find out what was causing so much excitement at the waterfront development Tuesday night.

Calleva, a Poolesville-based company that offers outdoor adventures for children and adults, is putting the finishing touches on a wooden pirate ship, lighthouse and ropes course at the site. The ropes course will offer a climbing wall, zip lines and a giant swing on high ropes. The course is scheduled to open July 10.

"It seemed like a natural for us," said Julie Clendenin, outreach director at Calleva, regarding the company's decision to open at National Harbor. "We're about people getting outside and doing new and different things."

Dozens of campers and staff members from Calleva gave the course a tryout Tuesday night.

Samuel Tempest, 17, of Salt Lake City and three other campers pulled ropes to hold logs in place several feet above the ground while Nungovitch, wearing a harness and helmet, walked across.

"Do a dance around the rope like I did," Tempest shouted to Nungovitch.

"Am I supposed to leap over there?" asked Nungovitch, 20, of Darnestown. "This is, like, not happening."

But it did.

Moments later, Jen Magoon, 20, of New Hampshire anxiously climbed the 30-foot lighthouse on the other side of the course to strap into a harness, put on a helmet and speed 400 feet across the course on a thin cord 30 feet above the ground.

"I was a little nervous, but I have a good friend up there that took care of me," Magoon said after her first zip line experience.

And what were her friend's words of comfort as Magoon sat on the launch platform?

"She said, 'Someone went before you, so it must be safe,' " Magoon said with a grin.

Developer Milton Peterson envisioned a lively development with a marina, shops, restaurants and offices at National Harbor. But he also imagined that the development would become a place for family fun.

Two years ago, he moved "The Awakening" sculpture, which had been at Hains Point in the District since 1980, to the Prince George's County development. Peterson has also snagged deals for the National Children's Museum and a 500-room Disney resort to be built there.

"It's a great family amenity for National Harbor," Rocell R. Viniard, vice president and director of marketing for National Harbor, said of the outdoor adventure area. "It gives our hotel guests another family-friendly activity. We're thrilled to have it."

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