I love the idea of a maze. The idea that you can turn one way and experience a dead end and turn the other and head on the path in the right direction. To me it’s like a metaphor for life. And while I have had the good fortune of attempting to navigate (though not with much luck mind you), the hedge maze at Hampton Court Palace in England, I’ve never had the opportunity to attempt the North American version known as a Corn Maze, until now – thanks to Westbank Bible Camp.
Located just 23 km north of Swift Current (and then another 10 km east), the 18 acre maze at Westbank was originally suppose to be just a part of the fun designed for campers this summer, but luckily for us, they’ve now opened it up to the public for a minimum $2 donation.
Not particularly good at puzzles myself, I knew it would be folly to attempt the maze on my own. So instead, I brought with me my own secret weapon: a 15 year old boy who had spent his entire summer playing Minecraft who I tore from the basement against his will.
“It will be fun,” I said with enthusiasm. “Sure it will,” was the glum reply. Still he soldiered on, albeit somewhat reluctantly. Partly because he loves me and wanted to make me happy, partly because I threatened to make him do chores if he didn’t.
So off we went down highway #4, me with visions of daring excitement and challenge, he with visions of a boring old walk.
After a short but pleasant journey down Highway #4 and an even shorter one down the grid road that takes you to Westbank, where we passed farmers in the field as they harvested, pronghorn antelope as they trundled down the road, and a variety of different hawks and other birds lazing about on hay rolls, we eventually came to the black iron ranch gate that let us know we had arrive.
Winding down into the absolutely spectacular valley that Westbank is nestled in, we were a little unsure of which way to go, but simply followed the “Welcome Campers” signs (shouldn’t they say “Welcome Corn Maze Walkers” by now?), and drove past the main office into the parking area.
Remembering that I had been told by the individual that had answered my phone call earlier that morning, that this was a “self-guided” experience, we merely waved to the man we saw getting into the tractor in the distance, and headed on our own to the entrance of the maze, where we deposited our entrance donation and carried on our merry way.
For perhaps the first time ever I let my son take the lead – trusting his gamer instincts not to lead us astray…but of course he lead us straight into a dead end! Not that I did much better when it was my turn to take the lead. And so it went, each of us alternately choosing a dead end before finding our way and choosing the right path. Eventually we came up with our own system of sending one down the path to look ahead, while the other kept their eye on the fork in the pathway.
Despite his misgivings, I’m happy to announce that my son had a ball! We laughed at our mistakes and cheered when we made it through, working as a team to make it round the next corner. And through it all the scenery surrounding us was breathtaking. With most of the corn ripened and the stalks golden, the contrast with the bright blueness of the sky was simply awesome. Add in the warmth of the sun and it was the perfect way to spend an afternoon – that is if you had all afternoon, which of course we didn’t thanks to looming volleyball tryouts. Instead we had a self-imposed time limit for what I had been told was a very “challenging” course.
Despite the fact that the corn stalks varied in height from eight feet to just a mere two, and despite the fact that those shorter stalks were on a rise, there was never a point where you could gain enough of a vantage point to see through the maze, (trust me we tried), and I personally never knew where I was from one moment to the next. With time literally ticking away (I had turned on my stopwatch), we had to start hoofing it through there pretty fast to make sure we’d make it out in time. Though always in the back of our minds was the inevitable “Plan B”, where we’d say “screw it” and dive our way through the middle.
Thankfully just 25 minutes and 46 seconds after we entered, we emerged victorious! Unlike those I had heard of who exited the same way they had come in – defeated by the maze. We came out the exit – undefeated!
If you’re like me, you’ll find as your kids get older, that it’s not as easy as it once was to find something you can have fun at together. So let me assure you THIS is one of those things. While little ones may get tired and whiny, your tweens and teens will have a blast – and you just might get some exercise trying to keep up!
For one of the best, inexpensive, outdoor experiences you’ll experience this Fall – definitely grab the family and the camera and “GoHere.”
How to GoHere: Having driven to Saskatoon many times, I was quite sure I knew where I was going, but somehow that didn’t stop me from thinking I had gone too far. For those of you that need more than just a “it’s 23 km” (a direction that’s only good if you looked at your odometer before you left) – it’s also located on RR 736 (or Leinan Road). Once you turn right (east) off Highway 4, it’s a quick 10 km to the gate. Or if all else fails you could use this map.
Gotta Go?: The Camp Office has washrooms that are open if someone’s around, but your best bet is to “go” before you go.
Good to Know:
- If you’re still unsure of what’s going on, you can always call the camp office and get the information straight from the horse’s mouth: Call – 306-773-6815 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The maze is “self-guided” which pretty much means you’re on your own from entrance to exit. Just take your time and don’t panic, it’s challenging to get out, but easy to find your way back.
- You can always chose “Plan B” to exit, but only do so in extreme and dire circumstances, because the resultant damage to the corn stalks would mess up the pathways for everyone else.
- Don’t think that just because you’ve done the maze once, you can’t do it again. I’ll pretty much guarantee you won’t remember how you got out the first time, so you can challenge yourself all over again.