Challenge course fosters team building and bonding
UMD’s new challenge course is now open and ready to be used by students, faculty and community members alike. The challenge course, which is often referred to as a low ropes course, is located directly behind the outdoor tennis courts on the east end of the Sports and Health Center.
“It fits really well in the space that it’s in, right across the walking path from the slacklining park that was put in several years ago,” said Lucas Kramer, UMD’s Climbing Coordinator who is tasked with overseeing both the climbing wall and the challenge course.
While the term ropes course may conjure up images of individuals navigating obstacles high off the ground, this low ropes course is quite different. In fact, Kramer says the term ropes course itself can be a little bit of a misnomer.
“Typically a low ropes course is used for team building,” said Kramer. “A lot of fun can and should be built into a challenge course experience, but fundamentally, it is not what a slackline course can be, where anyone can go out there and have fun. A challenge course has a focus to it that is more than just a recreational experience. It’s not available to individual students to just go out there and see what they can do.”
The challenge course is designed to be used by a wide range of groups such as sports teams, Greek life groups, work teams and even friend groups. Before starting the challenge course, the groups work with a course facilitator to develop specific goals such as improving camaraderie and personal connections, increasing communication, conflict management skills and understanding risk versus reward.
The challenge course isn’t about failure or success, but about growth and learning.
“Maybe success is simply putting together and executing a plan, regardless or weather it succeeds or fails,” Kramer said.
Despite being installed roughly a year ago, the ropes course didn’t technically open until right before the fall semester. According to Kramer, they needed to wait for the posts to settle and facilitators to be trained.
“Depending on the group, it ranges from $50-100 per hour,” Kramer said. “If you’re a UMD group, that fee is subsidized a little more. If you’re a community group that doesn’t have direct ties to UMD, then it’s gonna cost a little closer to the $100 range. It depends on how many facilitators you need and the size of your group.”
For those interested in booking this space, contact Lucas Kramer.
Although students and faculty seem to be happy with their new low ropes course, which cost just under $20,000, Kramer says a high ropes course isn’t out of the question for the future.
“There is interest and a push to add in, in some capacity, a high ropes course. But that’s a little more of an investment, around $150,000-200,000,” Kramer said. “In a ten year scheme, maybe there will be a high ropes course, but time will tell.”