5 Vancouver spring break activities that definitely require waivers

Here are a few ways that children are spending their free time during spring break, assuming their parents agreed to sign waivers.

Some of these ways to pass the time are liable to leave your children with bruises

Lily Vanderkuip (right) and her sister Sonje are getting into the woods on mountain bikes during spring break. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Here are a few ways that children are spending their free time during spring break, assuming their parents agreed to sign waivers.

Mountain biking

Lily Vanderkuip, 11, and her younger sister Sonje are taking part in a mountain bike camp in North Vancouver this week. She said she likes biking because nobody judges what you're doing.

"I can go really fast and I don't feel that I have to do anything special," she said. "I've already fallen once today, but luckily I just got back up."

A mountain biker rolls down a rock obstacle in North Vancouver as part of an Escape Adventures day camp. (Tammy Stothers)

Vanderkuip is signed up for an Escape Adventures camp, put on by owner Tammy Stothers for children as young as two years old. Older children and teens will ride down the more technical trails in the forest around North Vancouver.

"Injuries happen," said Stothers. "We've had kids with bumps on the heads, a laceration from a rock to a face, or a root. Even though they have full face [helmets], it happens — a broken arm, that sort of thing."

"The parents know this is a sport that could cause injuries," she said. 

Isle Meersman enrolled her son, Zia. 

"I think they get a chance to learn it in a safe way, whereas if he would just do it by himself, he'd take more risks," said Meersman. "Here, they really put a lot of stress on how we can do these extreme sports in a safe way."

And eight-year-old Zia knows the risks too. 

"Once I've cut open my knee, kind of, and hurt it," said Zia. "That's a part of it."


​"Usually people don't care about the weather when a 200 km/h paintball comes flying toward you," said North Shore Paintball owner Andy Chong, adding that some spring showers won't stop the game.

Chong's paintball facility near the north end of the Lions Gate Bridge in North Vancouver is open to people aged 11 and up.

"It's a fabulous activity for kids," said Chong. "They don't usually come out with bruises. They might come out with a welt. It's basically how you want to play the game."

Chong claims the game is safer than golf and bowling combined, per capita, and that in his 13 years in operations he's only seen one sprained ankle and one broken ankle.

"Everybody's got to sign the waiver," he said. "You get shot, you get a little tiny bruise."

Horseback riding

Horseback riding can be a fun way to get outside. It can also be a good way to get pretty sore, or injured if anything goes wrong.

More experienced equestrians can get out on trail rides. (Langley 204 Horseback Riding)

Teresa Milaire, who owns Langley 204 Horseback Riding, said a young rider's skill needs to be proven before they can take part in trail rides.

Inexperienced equestrians can learn how to behave with a horse in a reasonably safe environment, perhaps with a lead line inside a ring. There's also the challenge of matching the right horse to the right rider, said Milaire, as the wrong combination could spell disaster.

"We want to encourage riders, but make sure it's a fun, safe experience," she said. 

Adventure obstacle course

"It's funny, the kids are much more brave than the adults," said WildPlay Element Parks spokesperson Heather Watters. 

The aerial adventure parks, with several locations in B.C., feature obstacle courses, zip lines, giant 40-foot harness-based rope swings and various other possibly hazardous activities. Nobody takes part without signing a waiver.

A boy climbs through a netted obstacle at a WildPlay Element Park. (WildPlay Element Parks)

Watters said the injuries they see aren't major — perhaps splinters or pinched fingers, for the most part — and children are outfitted with safety harnesses.

"It's about getting outside your comfort zone and doing something that's perceived as risky, even though our staff and demonstrations are there to help you overcome your perceived boundaries," she said.

The outdoor parks are open regardless of the weather.

"If anything, the rain just ups the challenge a little bit," said Watters. "We definitely say, 'dress for the weather.'"

Riding ATVs

​If you want to see your child at the controls of an engine-propelled vehicle, dirtbike or ATV riding may be the activity for you.

Richmond based 5th Gear Motorsports offers a range of activities for youngsters, beginning with very small electric quads for children as young as four years old.

"I've never had anybody get seriously injured. I've never had to call an ambulance," said owner Bill Hitchon, adding that little scratches are common enough.

WATCH: Children riding ATVs

Hitchon said the parents seem to be more intimidated by the experience of watching their children ride ATVs than the kids are of riding them.

"Parents are about the hardest part of the learning session," he said, adding the price is fairly reasonable. 

The children seem to quickly learn how to manage the power of the machines, according to Hitchon, and they're soon comfortable racing around.

"You can see the little switch in their mind flip, and they get that independence and that confidence," he said.

"We're pretty cheap; we're a 100 bucks for the kid." 

Hitchon said that price includes the ATV, protective gear, and snacks. If a parent wants to ride along, that's an extra $50.

CBC and its reporters are not responsible for any injury that may result from the reading of this story.

About the Author

Rafferty Baker

Rafferty Baker is CBC Vancouver's mobile journalist. Follow him @raffertybaker


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