Did you know that the British Royal Marines use an advanced ropes course as training for their troops? The course builds confidence and tests troops’ ability to overcome both physical and emotional obstacles. The same ideas are used in recreational ropes courses, which aim to build teamwork and cooperation, as well as boost confidence and leadership skills in participants. While many ropes courses offer lessons aligned during each activity, it is also worthwhile to reflect on the experience after the course. Ask students to describe their feelings during each part of the activity, what challenges they faced, and what strategies they used to overcome those challenges. Ask how these examples can be applied to real-life situations.
BEFORE YOU GO
Review relevant vocabulary and key terms: cooperation, teamwork, confidence, strategy
- Request information about the rope course in advance and allow students to preview the course. Ask them to write about their expectations, fears, anxiety level, and confidence level. After the class trip have students reflect on the same topics and compare the two.
- Before working together on the rope course, provide an opportunity for the students to work together in the classroom. Have the students participate in the “Human Knot” activity. Have groups of students form a circle and then reach across the circle to hold the hand of another student. Continue this until everyone in the circle is holding the hands of two different students. They have just created their “human knot.” The goal for the students is to work together to untangle the knot so that every student is standing in the circle, facing forward, and holding the hands of the students to their immediate left and right, all while not letting go of anyone’s hands. During this activity have students observe how well they work together.
Students build confidence and leadership skills while working together to overcome rope obstacles.
WHAT TO WONDER
Ask: What is the goal of this obstacle? How can my classmates be helpful in overcoming this obstacle? How can the rope be used as an advantage rather than a hindrance?
Describe your feelings before, during, and after an obstacle.
Observe the students you are working with. What are the interactions among people like? What do the students who successfully overcome the obstacle do and say? What do the students who struggle to overcome the obstacle do and say?
Opinion: Which obstacles were the hardest? The easiest? Why?
Compare two obstacles. What is challenging about them? What are the strategies that can be used to overcome them?
Challenge: Identify an alternate strategy or solution to one of the obstacles.
Discuss what made some obstacles harder than others. Consider the interactions among the students in addition to the rope itself. What strategies were used that could be used in your everyday life?
Project: Create a “How-to Guide” for successfully working together to overcome the obstacles on the course.
Research the people and places that use rope courses and their reasoning behind it.
Social Impact: Write a proposal or recommendation to your principal or guidance counselors promoting the use of rope courses in peer mediation and team building among students and among teachers.