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Island Adventure Camp Could Come to Norton

Would include ziplining, tree rope courses and other obstacles.

It might not rise to the glam level of Survivor: Vanuatu or Jurassic Park, but Norton could have its own team bonding adventure camp smack in the middle of the Reservoir.

Entrepreneur Kenneth Leavitt has his eye on a densely wooded, seven-acre island that just happens to be for sale - an ideal site, he told selectmen this week, for treetop ropes courses that will challenge individuals of all ages and build teamwork and family bonds.

Leavitt, whose daughter has been attending , is a veteran of the ski industry, but was enticed by the aerial adventure parks that are popular in Europe, and now have appeared in Canada and the U.S.

"They feature many obstacles and ziplines, and there are five to six different courses. You get a great workout up in the trees," he told the board. "There is one company in the field that came from Europe - it started in France. A couple came to Montreal and built eight in Canada, and then six here. I want to do exactly the same thing because it works."

Leavitt said the system has been tested and proven at the Gunstock ski area, Camelback, and Lake George.

He showed board members a short film featuring individuals, mostly in families, who had completed the course at Extreme Adirondack Adventure in Lake George, the first such camp in the country, where 100 obstacles, swinging bridges, a skateboard on a high wire, and a ten foot freefall into a net test the skills and fitness of people from the age of seven up.

"It's extra safe," he said, describing the double clip carabiner system and the safety lines that traverse the length of the ropes courses. The all-wood construction of the platforms spare the big trees from harm, and shelters, composting bathrooms, and snack bars are made of logs to fit into the surrounding forest.

Only part of the island would be used for the course, and the side facing most of the homes on shore would be left as is for a buffer.

The Norton camp could entertain as many as 200 people at a time, he said, although most days many fewer than that number would be on the island.

Selectmen responded with enthusiasm, saying the camp would be a great draw for the community, but agreed with Leavitt that a great deal of planning, paperwork, and money will be going into the effort to get it off the ground.

Leavitt has already met with town conservation agent Jennifer Carlino, who helped him scale down the original idea to fit the site. He will be meeting with public safety officials as well to discuss access to the island and safety features of the course.

The greatest challenge will be to find a location for a dock and shallow draft transport boats to get customers back and forth to the island and ensure easy access to emergency responders should an accident happen.

Selectmen urged anyone owning property on the shores of the Reservoir to contact the board or the conservation office if they are interested in being part of the plan and selling the proponents enough land to put in a 140-space parking lot.

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