What’s an Adventure Challenge Course?
Many first time guests wonder, “What’s an ‘Adventure Challenge Course’?” The answer, however, is not as simple as the question. The term “Adventure Challenge” applies to a number of activities. Common adventure challenge components include:
- Low ropes / team initiatives
- High ropes courses
- Zip line courses
- Rock climbing
- Vertical towers
- Wilderness excursions
Participation in adventure activities provide a wide-range of benefits, centered around personal and team growth. A group using an Adventure Challenge program can expect participants to leave with a deeper understanding of their own capabilities and a greater appreciation for the other members of their group. Many participants readily seize the connection between the adventure activities and the spiritual focus of a retreat.
Adventure Challenges give participants the opportunity to try things often only seen on television. Activities like Zip Lines and High Ropes create a sense of achievement and self-confidence in both youth and adults. Comments often heard after an adventure program are:
“I can’t wait to tell my PARENTS what I did!”
“I can’t wait to tell my KIDS what I did!”
Individual growth is just one of the values of adventure programs. When participants meet a mental or physical obstacle, they must develop strategies to overcome the challenge as a group. Because the obstacle is often so unusual, people serve as the only familiar resource on which to rely. Groups working through a challenge find ways to utilize each other’s strengths to succeed.
While many parts of Adventure Challenge are physical, they are seldom athletic. Most Adventure Challenge activities are adaptable to the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of the group. Many activities are inclusive of those dealing with physical limitations. Whatever the group’s makeup, there is opportunity for adventure activities.
The ultimate value of an Adventure Challenge program is the connection made between the activities and everyday life. Individuals often depart a challenge course empowered to face life’s challenges at home, work, and school. Groups leave with greater respect for one another and a deeper understanding of how they can better function as a team. Schools using Adventure Challenge frequently note a decrease in bullying and an increase in encouragement. Churches using adventure programming create a larger sense of community and a greater network of support.
While some groups feel they do not have enough time in their retreat to include a session of Adventure Challenge activities, other groups make these opportunities the centerpiece of their event. These retreat leaders have come to believe their participants gain more from the adventure experience than from any other part of the retreat.
– Jeffery Gosnell, Director of Adventure Challenge & Adventure Education at Lake Williamson Christian Center (IL)