On the ropes: Adventure pushes, unites faculty and staff

Rope challenge courses have been called one of the safest and most valuable learning tools in the adventure programming field. Today, rope courses are more than just ropes, and the adventure of using them has expanded to a broad range of educational, business, organizational, recreational and therapeutic organizations.

This year the WSU Pullman campus added its own outdoor ropes challenge course, located behind the Student Recreation Center. With the course came a new program manager – Francis Morgan-Gallo.

Among the skills that a challenge program can teach are risk-taking, teamwork and other group dynamics. It can help groups identify problems, weaknesses and strengths and map courses for improvement.

“Because we have manufactured activities, we can compress and accelerate group development,” said Morgan-Gallo. “What would normally take six months (of group-dynamic assessment and development) can be done in an eight-hour day.”

Thus far, he has worked with three academic programs, six student organizations, two university staffs and the supervisory staff of the Recreation Center. More groups are scheduled in the coming weeks.

The impetus for a challenge course came last spring, when departments asked for challenge-course services but only could be given the option of indoor activities.

On average, the new course sees groups four days a week for four to eight hours of training, depending on the specifications of the group. Morgan-Gallo has kept busy running the fledgling program. “I have had one day off in three weeks!” he said.

“He brings a new expertise to the staff,” said Kathleen Hatch, University Recreation director. “He is a great asset; he makes the programs so tailored and has a good understanding of what people need.”

The challenge program is available for university related functions and groups; however, it is expected to open to off-campus groups soon. “We’re looking at the logistics of it right now,” said Morgan-Gallo.

To schedule a challenge program session for your group or department, call Morgan-Gallo at 335-8732. Since each program must meet the specific needs of the group, two weeks’ notice is needed to enjoy the optimum challenge experience.

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