September 14, 2008
Dangling from 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 ....
Posted by jo(e)