Maloit Park venue a success as Kids Adventure Games returns to Eagle County |

Maloit Park venue a success as Kids Adventure Games returns to Eagle County

700-800 kids take to a more remote course

A group of kids climb a rope wall to reach a slip-and-slide feature at Maloit Park on Sunday. Kids climbed, ran and biked their way to the finish line for the Kids Adventure Games’ return to Eagle County over the weekend.
John LaConte/

MINTURN — With stream crossings, mud pits and plenty of steep sections, Maloit Park proved to be an effective arena for the 11th edition of the Kids Adventure Games.

After running the first 10 years in Vail Village, organizers said it’s nice to know there’s two good venues for the hometown of the adventure games in Vail.

After starting in the Vail area as a birthday party for Helene and Billy Mattison’s children, the event became a nationwide tour, attracting 25,000 kids in a 10-year run. But organizers were forced to cancel all competitions during the 2020 pandemic in what would have been year 11.

In planning for 2021, many venues still weren’t ready. A desert edition took place at Highline Lake State Park in western Colorado in June, and the Mattisons didn’t want to pass on the event’s birthplace in Eagle County.

Crowd restrictions in Vail were still a possibility, so organizers looked for an open field, out of town but preferably still publicly maintained, which doesn’t see many crowds, and is surrounded by creek waters and steep slopes.

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It sounds like a tall order, but Maloit Park has it all, and 700-800 kids — along with their parents and grandparents — took to the venue over the weekend. Activation also occurred in the town of Vail with warm-up clinics and awards ceremonies.

Kids use ropes to descend a steep pitch at the Kids Adventure Games on Sunday. The event took place in Minturn for the first time in its 12-year run.
John LaConte

Drenched sprint

In a few days, Scout and Liam and Mattison, the twins whose original birthday party became the Kids Adventure Games — the Adventure Games freshmen class, you might say — will leave Eagle County for their freshmen years of college in Oregon and Montana, respectively.

They both volunteered to work the event Friday. Scout took photos while Liam worked the slip-and-slide feature, which was enhanced by scaffolding to prop kids off the ground in a smoother line toward the pool of water at the end of the course.

“It’s the best feature,” he said as he drenched kids with water on their descent. Some of the kids he drenched were siblings of the kids he used to race with when he christened the courses.

After the descent, more than 300 teams of two kids aged 6-14 sprinted across a grass lawn toward the giant inflatable horseshoe finish line at some point over the weekend. All were soaking wet, many were holding hands.

Ethan Maines and Kane Morris of the 12-14 age divisions were the fastest on the weekend with a time of 40:35.

“The venue was fabulous,” Helene Mattison said following the event.

Liam Mattison hoses down a competitor on the slip-and-slide feature at the Kids Adventure Games on Sunday. Kids Adventure Games took place in Minturn and Fruita this year.
John LaConte/

Lots of cooperation

Mattison securing Maloit Park took cooperation with Eagle County Schools and the town of Minturn, as well of the town of Vail which provided assistance as well.

“Both venues have their advantages,” Mattison said. “(Maloit Park) is more wild, and I think some of the parents liked that, but the energy in Vail is kind of fun, when everybody is running everywhere and going across the creek with all the spectators.”

Organizers will conduct surveys to see how all involved felt about the new venue. Mattison said her group will also conduct a review with the town of Vail’s event commission.

The Vail Recreation District helped put on the event, as well. Organizer Beth Pappas said the Maloit Park venue required less volunteer help.

“Maloit Park can be done with less volunteers,” Pappas said. “But it’s still a lot of work and collaboration.”

Nevertheless, “it always is the best event,” she added. “Seeing the kids help each other through the course always makes you smile.”

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