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Ozone Zipline Adventure at Camp Kern Warren County's newest attraction

5 March 2009

Ozone Zipline Adventure at Camp Kern Warren County's newest attraction
By Denise G. Callahan

Dayton Daily News 
Thursday, March 05, 2009

People will be zipping high and fast through the woods at Camp Kern this summer when the new Ozone Zipline Adventure ride opens.

The Dayton YMCA is investing approximately $500,000 in Warren County's newest attraction, with the goal of using the $75-per-rider fee to subsidize the outdoor education programs at the camp.

There will be nine ziplines totalling over 10,000 feet in length that will soar 170 feet in the air in some spots along the ride. On the final leg of the journey, riders will fly over the Little Miami River Valley on the longest — 2,500 feet — single zipline in the continental United States. Camp Kern Executive Director Jeff Merhige announced the attraction during a news conference on Wednesday, March 4.

"You'll start at the top of the hill and you'll zip out and the ground will drop beneath you ... at about 170 feet," he said.

The adventure is scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend, on May 23, and camp officials hope to run it 42 weeks a year, depending on the weather. Online registration will be available in April on the Camp Kern Web site, Merhige said riders will have to schedule trips ahead of time. They expect to handle about 100 riders during the week and 150 on weekends. Zippers must weigh at least 70 pounds.

Because there is an educational component, it will take riders two-and-a-half to three hours to complete the adventure, rather than a half hour it might if you were just zipping. Merhige said tour guides will offer information about the history of southwest Ohio and Fort Ancient, the ecology of the region and the physics of "zipping."

The closest zipline in the area is in the Hocking Hills region of south-central Ohio. Merhige said Camp Kern's will be significantly different. For one thing, the Ozone will be completely hands-free. In Hocking Hills riders need to slow themselves down with their hands, which can cause injuries. Zippers at the camp will be seated in a harness with handle bar to hang onto.

"Ours is a completely hands-free braking system," he said. "Our guests will have no contact with any of the mechanisms or the braking system."

Other than providing a cool new attraction, Camp Kern has the goal of keeping its outdoor education programs affordable for schools, in tough economic times.

"Once we pay back the initial construction investment, then the goal is to subsidize and stabilize outdoor education," he said. "The end game being to freeze rates or actually lower rates so those rates would never go up again. For Camp Kern, that's a $650,000 department."

The camp is located 5291 Ohio 350 in Oregonia.