Building A Case

In Part 1 of this series, I examined group initiatives, or directives, that encourage a group to work together to solve a problem. This article focuses on low-ropes challenge courses.

Low-ropes courses offer a fun challenge.

The main difference between the two is that a challenge course is permanently constructed, designed exclusively for this type of activity and led by a trained facilitator.

Before a single person sets foot on a challenge course, several issues must be addressed, starting with construction and inspection. For safety and liability reasons, using a professional company in both steps is highly recommended.

Although there may be qualified people at camp who probably can do a good job and save some money, it is not advisable. If you choose that route, however, be sure to follow professional standards, and then have the course inspected by an independent company.

For Example

What exactly goes into a successful team-building activity? Let’s say a group has specified that it wants to build unity.

Here is a sample approach to that goal:

Introduction and safety-training activities:

These take about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. During this time, have the group stretch and check for jewelry, belts or any other items that might cause an injury.

Pre-course training is designed to do three things:

• Teach safety and spotting techniques

• Get the group working together

• Help the facilitator feel comfortable in taking the group on the course.

Group initiatives:

As part of the introduction, include one or two activities that demonstrate what the group will experience on the challenge course. Choose these activities based upon what is known of the group and its goals.

Challenge course:

Once there is a comfort level with a group, proceed to the challenge course. In a typical two-hour course, usually three to four elements can be completed. Use a story line to help get the group into the proper mood and create “handicaps” for additional challenges. After each element, take about five to 10 minutes to debrief.


This expands the educational experience after an initiative or challenge-course endeavor. It involves the introspection of group members as each person evaluates the activity he or she either just attempted or completed. In other words, what–if anything–have they learned in the process?

Building group trust

Many years ago, a facilitator suggested posing three questions:

• What happened?

• So what?

• Now what?

These questions provide an effective, brief outline for discussion. The last two questions are particularly applicable to life, which is ultimately what the entire exercise is about.

Trained Facilitators

Although the focus thus far has been on the program, it is important to recognize the role of an effective facilitator as well. When initially meeting with the group, there is an introductory period during which the facilitator’s role is developed. This is where the group develops respect for the facilitator’s authority.

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Related posts:

  1. Building A Case
  2. The Next Step
  3. Camp Business Turns 10
  4. Choosing A Challenge Course Vendor
  5. Adventure Challenges
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