New challenge course emphasizes cooperation, ingenuity

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Catlin Gabel has recently installed a challenge course where students will have the opportunity to test themselves on a variety of high and low elements. The course is nestled in the woods below the Lower School Art Barn.

Safety issues have been thoroughly vetted and were our top priority in designing and building the course. Professional arborists assure us that the trees used to anchor the course are not at risk of damage.

The course is designed for students ages 10 and over. Use of the course is strictly limited to times when a trained facilitator is on site. Almost two dozen faculty-staff members have taken the extensive professional training sessions required to become facilitators. (See photo.) When a facilitator is not supervising the course, the ropes and cables are secured and inaccessible to passersby.

Every challenge course has its own personality. Catlin Gabel’s facility was constructed with an emphasis on group cooperation and overcoming obstacles. Under the guidance of trained facilitators, groups of students will tackle various challenges that require skill and ingenuity to resolve. The course contains four high elements and seven low elements. Some of the elements can be tailored for use by different age groups. Parent and alumni groups can arrange for challenge course events by e-mailing outdoor education teacher Erin Goodling ’99 at goodlinge@catlin.edu.

“We expect that sports teams, global education groups, departments, and classes will use the challenge course to help set the stage for their work together,” said Peter Green, outdoor education director.

We are very grateful to Andy and Becky Michaels, Oregon Mountain Community, Reed and Tina Wilson, and an anonymous donor for this exciting addition to our program. The challenge course fits right in with Catlin Gabel’s hands-on experiential approach to learning.