Thursday, July 12, 2012

Out of Our Element

We met in the back of the Ratty at 8o'clock on the dot. Shortly after, we filed on to a bus and headed for Bristol, Rhode Island to experience the ropes course aspect of the Leadership Institute at Brown.

When we first arrived all the students formed a circle and we went over safety precautions for while we were in the wilderness and then we split off in to smaller groups to preform the actual challenges. My group warmed up with some exercises, like the trust fall, to help us recognize our comfort zones in order for Challenge by Choice to work, an idea that all activities are challenging and one can decide whether they wish to challenge themselves and if so, how much.

Then we went on to the first of four elements in the ropes course. The first was three wooden islands spread apart different lengths and the challenge was to use two boards to get all our group members across to the final island, Awesome Island. The trick was, there was no talking allowed on the islands. This meant we had to do a lot of planning ahead and when communicating during the process was absolutely necessary, we had to resort to clapping and enthusiastic hand gestures. 

The next element involved the lifting practice we had done earlier in the day. Imagine a life size spider web suspended between two trees. Our challenge was to get all our team mates through the holes in the web without touching the strings that made up the web. While some were able to just crawl through a lower hole, others had to be carefully lifted and put through the holes. As one of the people who was lifted I can say how safe I felt. It was amazing how much I had come to trust these girls in such a short amount of time. Of course I can't be totally surprised since we've been working closely together on some very personal issues these past few days.

After the spider web was complete we moved on to an obstacle in which two cables were attached to a tree and then spanned out to trees in front of the starter tree to make a triangle shape. The challenge was, starting at the narrow end, with a partner, work your way out to the wider  end of the cables using your partner as support. This sounds very confusing and hard to picture as I write but being there to see this exercise was inspiring. The tenacity displayed by my classmates was admirable. They tried and tired to make it as far as possible with the help of spotters on all sides to ensure safety. 

The final element was a wall. Just a wall. The object of the element was to, with the help of your classmates and some strong people on top, climb over the almost 15 foot wall. It was such a great way to end the day. The final activity encompassed the whole day- filled with enthusiasm, support, trust and fresh air!

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