“Hanging Out” – A Day at the Ropes Course

After spending the last few months working in homes doing energy retrofits, us AmeriCorps Leadership and Conservation (ACLC) Corpsmembers are now about to embark on our summer of service programs. However, before we start our summers, we were rewarded for our excellent work with a day of fun…and learning. Little did we know it would turn into one of the greatest Friday’s here at MHYC.

We arrived with little idea of what the day would have in store for us other than team building at a ropes course. We hopped in the vans and headed toward the mountains. After a short ride up a mountain and a quick hike we had arrived at our final destination. At first it didn’t look like much, just a large open area surrounded by trees and an outhouse. However, it was much more. Hidden within these trees and the open area were challenges that all of us would have to face.

We started the morning with some team building activities with Julie, Scott and Chuck who would be our hosts and guides. After some time balancing ones forehead on top of another’s knee we were ready to start moving around.
Our guides decided it was time to bust out the big rope, or what looked like a jump rope for giants…or just two extremely large children. During this exercise we had to get everyone under or over the rope as it was swinging. Sounds easy, but it certainly was a lot more difficult. After jumping over the rope we broke up into two groups and did more team builders such as whale boat where you must balance a large seesaw plank with all your teammates on it. Once we were done with our small groups we ate lunch and then let the real fun begin.

After a lesson on how to wear the harness and helmets properly we were ready to take on any challenges that lay ahead.

We were all then introduced to the course. Over the next few hours we would work in teams to climb 40 feet in the air and form a moving pyramid as we moved across the wire. After trying the pyramid movement on the ground we moved up to the tree. Once reaching the platform we carefully had to step onto the wire. Once on the wire we stared deeply into our partners eyes (which was advised by the guides) to help stabilize ourselves as our bodies stretched across the air. We began to move across the wire, and slowly as the two wires became farther apart so did we, until we could no longer hold on and we fell off turning ourselves into Mission Impossible spy’s as we were lowered to the ground.

Another course we did was to “climb the giant’s ladder”. This next activity took a lot of patience, strength, and a strong will to complete. Again we were paired up and began our climb towards the top of the 40 foot ladder. This journey up the ladder was a lot more difficult than one might imagine. With each beam just at the right height where one had to hang upside down, swing their leg over and use all their strength to reach the next, you were completely exhausted by the time you reached the summit.

As the day came to a close we had one last challenge. This was to climb a telephone pole and jump out 7 feet to a trapeze bar. The telephone pole really challenged the inner climber in each of us. After practicing how to balance on a low pole, we were ready for the real thing. One at a time we scaled the pole and had to balance ourselves on top of the VERY small surface the pole provides. Once balanced it was all guts that would take you to the next step…3…2…1…JUMP!!! You hurled yourself toward that bar, arms stretched out, hoping you would make that connection. And once you did, a sense of joy and satisfaction came across you.

For all of us the ropes course was a day of fun, excitement and team bonding. From cheering each other on, whether it was on the giants ladder or standing tall on the pole, to making a pyramid high in the trees we certainly knew that we all were there in full support of each other. For some, the day was a walk in the park, where heights, harnesses, and ropes don’t bother you. But for many it was a day to face their fear of heights and conquer the ropes course. The looks at the end of the day certainly show that the goals everyone set in the beginning were met.

-Brendan Michaud, 2010 AmeriCorps Leadership and Conservation Corpsmember

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