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Zip into some summer fun at Camp Pepin

Matt Sime, property and facilities manager for YMCA Camp Pepin, speeds by while testing the camp’s zip line course. The new amenity features five platforms, a bridge and nearly 1,000 feet of line. (Republican Eagle photo by Michael Brun) 1 / 3
Matt Sime, property and facilities manager for YMCA Camp Pepin, ascends a ladder to the starting platform at YMCA Camp Pepin’s new zip line tour course. The course reaches 25 feet at its highest point. (Republican Eagle photo by Michael Brun) 2 / 3
Sime demonstrates the zip line pulley that will send campers down the course this summer. Sime designed the course using skills acquired after 10 years of working with ropes course companies. 3 / 3

As property and facilities manager for YMCA Camp Pepin, Matt Sime is always thinking of new ways for kids to have fun.

“Pretty much my job while I’ve been here is to build new things and make camp better,” said Sime, listing past accomplishments that include carpetball tables, a ga-ga pit and disc golf course.

His project for this year may be his most ambitious yet: a nearly 1,000-foot-long zip line course.

The zip line, along with a new giant swing, will be among the amenities available to the public at a grand opening 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday May 18 at the camp in Stockholm, Wisconsin.

Billed as a “family fun day,” this free event is designed to give children and parents a chance to check out Camp Pepin and register for the summer.

Up to eight brave campers and two adult facilitators can tackle the zip line course at a time, Sime said.

Participants begin by climbing a ladder to a platform attached to a tree 25 feet up. From there they connect to the line and zip across to another platform some 150 feet away.

Once everyone has made it over, the group will cross a wooden bridge to another platform, followed by two more zips and a final run that will bring them back to the ground.

Sime said the course took about five weeks to complete, with work starting back in January.

“There were some days I was out there and it was 5 or 10 (degrees) below,” he said.

Sime said he worked for various ropes course companies for nearly 10 years, and used that experience to design the zip line at Camp Pepin. He completed most of the construction along with volunteer Randy Ryan.

Additional volunteers helped with clearing and picking up brush.

Giant Swing The giant swing, located near the camp’s existing challenge course, was a simpler project in comparison, Sime said. In all, he estimates it took 20 to 30 hours to construct.

Described as a group activity, one person is put into a harness and clipped onto a rope while a team of around 12 pulls them up to between 5 and 25 feet in the air.

As they reach their desired height, the person in the harness chooses when to release and go swinging down like a pendulum.

Although the focus for now is getting the camp ready in time for Sunday’s grand opening, Sime said he already is considering another zip line platform and making additions to the disc golf course.

“The potential is always here for expansion,” he said.

Camp Pepin offers traditional summer resident camps for children entering grades 2-9, along with specialty, trail/tripping and teen leadership camps up to grade 12. Sessions begin in June and go through mid-August.

Learn more and register at

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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