Adventure Challenges

Outdoor adventure programming continues to gain popularity as a means to educate and enlighten people from a lot of different categories, including at-risk youth participating in behavior management programs to corporate executives honing their understanding of human dynamics such as trust, communication and goal setting as it applies to the business world.

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Implementing a challenge or ropes course into the fabric of your venue can be a tremendous asset, provided there is a clear understanding of the purpose of your programming needs and that the appropriate personnel are in place to serve the end user in a manner that supports an adventure and safety philosophy.

The first challenge is to understand the concept behind the programming — that the adventure process is the backbone for the development of what is essentially a tool to impact programming for real learning.

Building Bridges

Most program directors inherently understand the reasoning behind providing activities beyond organized sports. Both organized and individual sports and activities are camper development tools. Campers engage in a joint or sole effort to overcome a perceived challenge, driven by an innate desire to succeed.

Success does not have to equal winning or losing, and in fact, success as it applies to recreational sport should always be analogous to learning. This gives ropes courses and adventure-based ropes courses a distinct advantage and learning opportunity over traditional recreational sport activities because of its instructional and supervisory nature.

Guidance is supportive, yet the activity itself relies upon the individual’s performance in a non-reactionary, completely pre-meditated manner. In other words, you can be led to the high platform, but you must make a conscious decision to take the next step off the platform and onto a zip line.

A ropes course or climbing wall can help bridge the gap between the hesitation that may exist in a less-than-confident camper. Yet the specific activities taught by caring, creative, and knowledgeable instructors are what really contribute to the development of self-esteem.

For example, one useful activity on a climbing wall to build intrinsic motivation could be the simple recognition of a camper who climbs a number of feet throughout the duration of a camp, from 50 feet to a full mile, with awards ranging from name recognition to t-shirts with your camp logo.

The team-building phenomenon, increased self-confidence, risk-taking appreciation, and leadership development are just a few of the benefits to consider when justifying the addition of a challenge course to supplement your recreational, and therefore, educational offerings.

While sometimes difficult to quantify, the results of the participation in a challenge course is undoubtedly beneficial to campers, and in turn, the community he or she interacts with.

For most organizations, your mission statement will direct you in determining potential needs in programming or educational offerings, and by the nature of your organization, your major target market will already be in place to receive instruction specific to the needs of that market.

When deciding to add a challenge course to your facility, you need to make sure the training you seek for your staff meets the needs of your camp and mission.

For instance, camps that serve special needs children must provide instructors specifically trained to work with that group for maximum safety and learning outcomes.

Choosing the appropriate adventure workshops for your employees will ensure certification in an area that will benefit both your camp and the participants.


Depending on your target group, each will have different needs with instructors trained and prepared to meet such needs.

Various levels of certification exist for facilitators that meet minimum standards set forth by the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT), with operators required to pass both a written and practical test given by the facilitator training provider.

In order to meet the Association for Challenge Course Technology Operation Standards, for instance, the camp operators must meet requirements that include training in adventure foundations and theories, facilitation skills and mastering technical skills.

Some training providers offer specific workshops for physical education and health and wellness, with staff earning continuing education and college credits.

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