September 14, 2008

Dangling from the trees

Through the trees

The Ropes Course facilitators wore t-shirts that said, "Get high."

And that's exactly what happened. We put on rock-climbing harnesses and helmets, and we climbed up into the trees, where we were challenged to do such things as cross a slippery plank or stand on a cable wire high above the ground.

That's how I spend my day yesterday, hanging out with my first year students in the canopy of the forest.

We've had so much rain lately that everything we touched was slick and wet and muddy, and soon our t-shirts were decorated with patterns of mud. The students have known each other for only a few weeks, but it's amazing how bonded you can feel when you're dangling fifty feet above the ground and need to rely on each other to get across a cable or climb a hanging ladder. Students on the ground, helping the belay team, shouted encouraging words, "You're almost there! You can do it! Don't look down!"

Even though I do a high ropes course with students every fall, I was still terrified. Adrenaline surged through my bloodstream as I tried to balance on a slippery plank hung between two trees. I was standing between two students, all of us holding hands, and we had just achieved our goal, the three of us balanced precariously on the plank. I took a deep breath and looked out over the valley, at treetops mostly green, but just beginning to turn gold with autumn.

Then the student to my right squeezed my hand. "Come on. We've got another level." It was time to climb higher ....

Time to climb even higher ...

12 comments:

BerryBird said...

What a great experience! Small Green College didn't have a ropes course for first year students when I enrolled there many years ago. I'm a little jealous.

KathyR said...

No. Effing. Way.

But good on you!

Amber (Writer Chica) said...

Golly, that sounds so cool! Hearing all the fun stuff your school does with first year students, I sure wish I had known about it.

Sandy said...

We do a ropes course with our high school kids -- it's such a great experience.

ppolarbear said...

good on you. (and good it's not me)

Cathy said...

My son led ropes courses for summer camp while he was counselor. All I can say is glad it's y'all and not me.

Tie-Dye Brother-in-law said...

Great silhouette shot.

Anjali said...

I think I'd be too chicken, but good for you! I'm sure it's amazing.

Kathryn and Ari said...

Hooray for you! It's such a rush, no? I understand why students are so drawn to Adventure Education and Outdoor Recreation majors: to facilitate that kind of excitement must be a great way to earn a living.

Casey said...

Just wow. That's awesome.

Rana said...

I still remember my ropes course, back when I was about to become a high school freshman. I don't know how well it worked to bond me with my future classmates, but it was definitely an exercise that stuck with me.

It would be very different to do it with one's teachers, or with one's students. I bet it translates into really productive classroom dynamics, too.

Breena Ronan said...

I want to be your student. I love that photo of a class sitting in a circle under a tree as well.