Today I thought our class would be going to, what I think of as, a typical ropes course. A ropes course with zip-lines and gigantic nets high in the air. I couldn’t wait for this. We went to a ropes course, however, where every activity was only a few feet off the ground. At first I was a little disappointed, but now I realize that I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I learned so much and was able to gain such a strong sense of trust among all the people in my class.
|Walking to the ropes course.|
Once we arrived at the ropes course, I was in awe with the beauty of the surrounding area. We were in a lush green forest and right next to a gigantic bay. Our beautiful surroundings not only attracted humans, but also insects. We were warned of the dangers of ticks carrying lyme disease and our leaders gave us insect repellent and bandanas to tie around our ankles. My fear of these ticks, however, was nothing in comparison to the amazing experience of the ropes course.
After arriving, our class split into two groups. My leader fellow, Sophia, along with our ropes course instructor, Dianne, lead us in several team building activates before going to the ropes course. We also discussed the idea that this ropes course is intended to be challenge by choice. This means that anyone uncomfortable with any activity can choose not to participate. By encouraging people to judge for themselves what they were confortable with, any pressure to participate was eliminated.
Our first activity of the ropes course evolved three wooden islands and two boards. The objective was to move everyone from the first to third island without stepping on the ground. The challenge was that anyone on an island was unable to speak and that one board alone could not reach the between two of the islands. At first, our group struggled to effectively share ideas. Over time, however, we were able to develop a system. Two people stood on the middle island and arranged the two boards on top of one another in such a way that one person could stand on a board and use their leverage to support the people walking to the third island. After we successfully completed this activity, we acknowledged our lack of group communication and decided to try to be conscious of those who were quieter.
|The final activity.|
In the next activity, which evolved moving people through a giant web, we circled up and gave everyone a chance to speak before starting the task. It was amazing to see how quickly our communication skills improved. By giving everyone a chance to share their ideas, we were able to address and find a way to overcome many of the obstacles much of the group may have overlooked. Improved communication also lead to an increase of trust among the group. Although I have only known many of these people for a few days, I felt perfectly confortable with them lifting me through a giant web.
Our final activity involved only a wall. The goal was to move people over this wall using human power. Essentially, one person was lifted onto the wall and someone from above then had to grab onto that person and lift them up and over it. This activity required a huge amount of trust. Those who were lifted onto the wall had to rely fully on those already at the top to lift them up and over. It was amazing for me to see how confortable everyone was with completing this task. The activities earlier had really enabled us to feel confortable with one another; even in a vulnerable environment. After today’s ropes course, I feel like I’ve known many of the girls for years. We have developed such a strong sense of trust in one another already and I know that it will only grow stronger in the days to come.