Although Mobile Spelunking Systems
was incorporated as a Canadian company in December, 2002 its actual
beginnings began much earlier than that.
The first Mobile Spelunking System
was built in the spring of 2000. This plywood prototype became a
contributing part of Carberry Bible Camp’s summer program in July of that
year. The inventor of Mobile Spelunking Systems is George C. Roy.
Mr. Roy was granted a US patent (US 6,575,462,B2) for his “Maze Structure”
on June 10, 2003.
The whole idea began some time in the
late 1990’s from a challenge to be creative and out of a desire to build a
better maze toy. The toy presented to Mr. Roy was a school woodworking shop
class project, a primitive puzzle made from a
short piece of two-by-four. The result of the challenge
was a balsa wood cube made in four levels.
These levels were all
interchangeable thereby making one long tunnel, and 491 mazes, some
impossible, some tremendously difficult.
Almost immediately the next thought
that presented itself was “what would this be like if it were large enough
for people to climb through?” Designs were drafted and revised. Then, in
the winter of 1999-2000, some camps in Southern Manitoba were presented with
an offer - having a three dimensional mobile maze system for the cost of
material. When Carberry Bible Camp accepted the offer, work was begun.
The first Mobile Spelunking System
prototype was built of wood - plywood joined together with glue and brass
screws. Because of the usual dimensions of plywood, it became an 8’ cube.
A grid system had already been developed for the hand held toy maze so this
system and ‘floor plan’ were utilized for the full
scale model. Even before the painting began, children and young adults were
trying it out. It was a hit. In June, the very
bright, diagonally painted Green, Red, Orange and Yellow cube left for
Carberry on a snow mobile trailer and in a pick up truck.
What followed immediately after this
was a time of research and development. Who would be interested and how
much would they be willing to pay? What would the best materials be? Where
would the material come from? Potential materials were researched and
suppliers were sought. Potential users join us in focus groups. Experts in
various fields were consulted. A business plan was drawn up. Various
processes were appraised.
Finally, in August, 2002 all the pieces
fell into place. The decision was made to use polyethylene as the major
A local Manitoba company, Heartland Agrivent
would make the moulds and rotationally mould the pieces.
Design specifications demanded
standards higher than those of the Canadian Standards Association, as found
in their publication “Children’s Playspaces and Equipment”
After mould redesign and fine tuning,
piece modification and design changes, the second Mobile Spelunking System
prototype rolled off the assembly line in December, 2002. This brightly
coloured 8' cube had levels of Green,
Red, Orange and Yellow.
It weighed about 800 pounds, considerably less than the wooden
prototype. The translucent characteristic of the material gave the interior
of the system more light. Because it weighed less, it took only one person
to move the System into most of its configurations.
The System was ‘unveiled’ at a New
Year’s Eve evening at Albright Church, December 31, 2002 and again was a
hit. It was also during this evening that the idea grew yet again.
During an intermission in the program,
while some levels of the System were stood
on their sides, children began playing in them! They climbed and hung out
and just had fun even though it wasn’t the long, long tunnel
or a maze. During the next 14 months the System was taken to
approximately 20 locations including schools, a fair, a trade show and
churches for more research. It became a major
focus of attention and centre of fun and adventure.
The uses for which it was being used
mushroomed. Exercise, including stretching and muscle development, eye-hand
coordination, spatial awareness, team building and even leadership
development and mathematics were discouvered.
Records were being established. A
teacher at one school thought he had a star performer to negotiate the 130
feet of twists and turns, ups and downs. He did. Nine
year old Ryan Burky established a World Record of 41.88 seconds! General
Byng had 130 students go through the tunnel in 15 minutes and a Maples
Collegiate student, Chris Bennet, at 6 feet 3 inches, 270 pounds, became the
biggest person through. A senior of 71 years tried it out; a 18 month old
toddler made it all the way through. The System had
obvious broad appeal and broad application.
shortly after this time. The first sale of a Mobile Spelunking System was
to the University of Manitoba Children's Programs, the proud and satisfied
customers of a Series 400 model.
It’s Mobile; it
can go anywhere. It’s a System; it can suit anyone.
It’s Spelunking; tons of fun and a whole lot more.