More competitors, improved Slope-N-Slide at Kids Adventure Games |

More competitors, improved Slope-N-Slide at Kids Adventure Games

A member from Team Thunderbirds flies into the pool at the end of the Slope-N-Slide obstacle during the Kids Adventure Games in Vail on Saturday. The Slope-N-Slide was the most improved feature at the Kids Adventure Games for 2015.
Chelsea Tuttle |

VAIL ­— There’s still no adult division in the Kids Adventure Games, but the annual event continues to grow bigger, just like the competitors it attracts.

The event includes activities like mountain biking, river tubing, slacklining over a mud pit and repelling down the cliffs on Pepi’s Face. It sells out every year, but event founder Helene Mattison says if there were to be a year where the kids’ entries did not fill, she’s sure she could easily sell the remaining slots to adults.

But she won’t.

Regardless, all indicators point to the Kids Adventure Games remaining a sell-out event every year. After starting six years ago with 50 competitors, this year 130 teams of two competed on both Friday and Saturday, without a single no-show.

“Having kids come up to you and say it’s been the best day of their lives — most people can’t get something like that out of their normal working experience.”Jamie GunionVail Recreation District

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“It started after we had a birthday party for one of our kids, we had 40 other kids show up and the parents said, ‘Oh my God, you guys have to do more birthday parties,’” Mattison recalled. “It took a few years for us to make the decision to take it to the next level, I always knew it could be a big success … But the Vail Recreation District really developed the whole infrastructure and the vision of growth.”


While it’s the best weekend of the year for many of the kids who compete in the games, it’s the busiest weekend of the year for those Vail Recreation District workers helping to see the event go smoothly.

Beth Pappas and Jamie Gunion of the rec district said they’ve been working 15-hour days.

“But it’s so rewarding,” Gunion said. “Seeing the kids holding each other’s hands and encourage each other to finish the course, and having kids come up to you and say it’s been the best day of their lives, most people can’t get something like that out of their normal working experience.”


This year the event attracted 140 volunteers. And while adults aren’t allowed to compete in the adventure games, adult volunteers were allowed to enjoy one feature on the course. It’s arguably the best feature, and there’s no arguing about the fact that this year it was also the most improved feature.

“We added a large pump to the Slope-N-Slide, which has roughly the same flow as Gore Creek right now,” said course worker Chris “Mongo” Reeder. “Also new is a design that allows us to double up the padding, so it’s a more comfortable ride, and we bermed it out with a space-age polymer material that allows us to channelize the water.”

The Slope-N-Slide feature, set up at the bottom of the Head First ski run on Vail Mountain, is a good representation of the games themselves. It’s the single largest, heaviest piece of equipment at the games, and moving it around and setting it up is a lot of work. But it also brings smiles to the faces of everyone who encounters it.

“I saw hundreds of kids go down this thing over the last two days, and I laughed every single time,” Reeder said.

The Kids Adventure Games continue Sunday starting at 9 a.m. in Vail Village.

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