Alan Hale began concept in U.S. with advent of Outward Bound (1962) Risk was high – minimal back-up & unsophisticated equipment. Karl Rohnke began Ropes Courses as a specific tool to teach problem solving skills and address psychological dynamics issues (1971) The new evolution began in PE programs. Equipment became more sophisticated (poles, helmets, harnesses, cables, belaying). Use broadened to education, recreation, therapy, and organized development.
Ropes Courses were focused toward youth at risk and as adjunctive therapy. Why? Now it is considered a primary mode of therapy Nature is not key, Challenge is. The 1980s brought about Project Adventure which sets Industry Standard in Ropes Course management. Use has broadened to most camps & nature centers Used in Corporate Training (Team-building, communication skills, problem-solving skills, Risk-taking strategies, and stress reduction (Bunting study).
Now, over 3,000 Ropes courses in U.S. Formation of Association of Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) sets industry standards. (Karl Rohnke is still part of it) AEE is the accrediting body.
Problems More than a fun time. Not just a rock climbing transfer. Inadequately trained staff (hard skills are focus, but soft skills are key). Poorly designed, constructed, and maintained courses.
Purpose of a Low Ropes Course For groups of people (8-12) Challenge is in problem solving Risk is low Problem solving yields insights toward behavior & communication
Outcomes are: Insights on how individuals communicate within the group Insights on how the group works as a unit Insights on how individuals behave within the group (called group dynamic) Suggestions, skills, & practice to improve
Purpose of a High Ropes Course Individual (self) Oriented Challenge is in perceived risk Risk is high (perceived) Problem solving yields insights toward individual response to risk (typically trust &/or self efficacy – [courage])
Outcomes are: Insights on the individuals self beliefs Insights on the individuals self-talk Insights individuals behavior to the challenge/risk (called self-efficacy) Suggestions, skills, & practice to improve