University of Lynchburg’s high ropes challenge course received a makeover this month.
The upgrades make the course more permanent and will help the Outdoor Leadership Program cover more ground.
“We can do a lot more for our students and the surrounding community,” said Peter Berry ’14, who now runs the Outdoor Leadership Program while earning his master’s degree in educational leadership.
The leadership program utilizes two ropes courses for team building exercises. The low ropes course, situated just a few feet off the ground, emphasizes the importance of communication and working together to solve problems. It emphasizes having “everyone all together actively pursuing a common goal,” said Berry.
The high ropes course, approximately 40 feet high, provides more individual challenges in which the person on the ropes relies on teammates for encouragement and suggestions. It is more focused on overcoming individual fears, but it does teach participants about relying on a team.
“That’s when you realize how important it is to have those people on the ground encouraging you and helping you along your way,” said John Eccles, vice president and dean for student development, whose department includes the Outdoor Leadership Program.
The high ropes course was built about 25 years ago and relied on cables strung between trees. But those trees have grown in the decades since, meaning that some of the steel cables became stretched more tightly. The College recently chose to move the course to a set of telephone poles with the help of Inner Quest, an outdoor adventure services company.
Inner Quest staff installed the telephone poles and rigged up the new high ropes course the week of August 10.
In addition to being more permanent (and a more kind to trees), the new course requires fewer staff members to operate thanks to a new belay system. Whereas the high ropes course used to require 10 Outdoor Leadership Program student workers, the new one requires only two. Berry pointed out that this will allow the course to be used more often, even when staff members are leading other outdoor adventure experiences, such as canoe, rafting, hiking, or caving trips.