Challenge courses are used in many outdoor education programs, but why? There’s something special about climbing through trees or gliding high above the ground attached only to a singular rope. Such experiences fill us with fear and excitement, a feeling of freedom produced only when we are afraid to move forward, but do it anyway. It’s the moment when we learn that the experience before us offers so much more than our anxieties have lead us to believe. Moments like these happen every day on challenge courses.
What is Outdoor Education?
Outdoor education is an experiential teaching style that allows students to learn outside of the classroom. The “curriculum” for outdoor education fosters problem-solving skills, communication skills, a greater sense of community, and an appreciation for nature. That’s why educators everywhere use outdoor education to create new, engaging learning experiences with an impact that will last a lifetime.
Benefits of a Challenge Course
Challenge courses are a set of obstacles that tend to be difficult to overcome both physically and mentally. These courses serve to strengthen teams and individuals. There are two main types of challenge courses; high ropes and low ropes courses. High ropes courses are set at high heights and participants are usually connected to wires or ropes in order to complete the course. Low ropes courses are on the ground challenges designed to get your team working together and warm you up mentally for the high ropes course challenges.
Benefits for the Team
Groups often work together through these courses to experience a new facet of teamwork, which is particularly helpful in the classroom. It allows teams to learn one another’s strengths and weaknesses, helping each person to find their unique role within their group. Supporting one another through this course expands a feeling of camaraderie as they come together for a common goal. They also form a feeling of healthy dependence on one another, realizing that as a team, they can accomplish their goals more efficiently.
Benefits for the Individual
For the individual, challenge courses are an excellent tool to boost confidence. These courses provide an outlet for people to face fears and escape their comfort zone, giving a platform to display new found abilities and develop the skill of self assurance.
Connecting Challenge Courses to Outdoor Education
Outdoor Education programs strive to encourage students to venture into their challenge zones and experience a new environment with space for personal growth and problem solving beyond academics. Challenge courses create an unparalleled outdoor experience, as they often offer a different perspective and encourage deeper personal development. Kids often see school as solely an academic experience, outdoor education and challenge courses serve as a source to remind students that learning is not a journey that only takes place in the classroom. Challenge courses are all over, some of our favorites can be found at facilities in Big Bear, Idyllwild and El Capitan Canyon.
We all face a variety of challenges every day, and it can sometimes seem daunting. Challenge courses are an excellent reminder that we can overcome our fears. They help give us the confidence to traverse life’s struggles and come out on the other side successful, reminding us that no challenge is too large.