Facilitation Skills: Beyond the Challenge Course

Clayton Davidson headshotClayton Davidson is a senior at Syracuse University studying Accounting and Management. Originally from New Jersey, Clayton plans to enter the workforce, possibly in a business consulting role. Clayton was a member of the first group of facilitators hired to work on the outdoor challenge course and has been working programs since his sophomore year. Now, Clayton works as a supervisor for the challenge course, working programs regularly on the weekends as well as assisting with training for new facilitators.


Since I was a kid, I have loved being outdoors and challenging myself both mentally and physically. When I came to Syracuse, although my love of the outdoors was still there, it became increasingly difficult to find ways to feed my passion. At the end of my freshman year, I found my solution: to become a SU Challenge Course Facilitator. Now going into my third year of working at what I consider to be the best job on campus, I realized that I have taken away from my experiences out on the course then just enjoying being outdoors and looking out at the beautiful view of the campus.

One of the aspects of facilitation that really resonates beyond the challenge course is the ability to work in teams. Even though I am not a “participant” in the groups that I am able to lead through activities and elements, I am still a member of the group. That being said, no two groups work, think, or act the same way. This has given me the ability to adapt my facilitation style to not only meet the needs of the group but the dynamics of the group as well. Not only am I a part of the group that is doing the Challenge Course, but I am also part of the facilitators group that all work together to make these programs run. Without all of us working together and managing the “behind-the-scenes” work that the group doesn’t necessarily notice, these programs would not be able to work as well as they so often do.

Communication is one of the biggest takeaways from being a facilitator on the course. From speaking with all of the different groups that come through the course, I can now say that I feel comfortable speaking in front of just about anyone. Leading groups through the different elements has allowed me to hone my communication skills where I can now speak in the most clear and concise way possible.

When I think of the word “facilitation” now, I immediately think of “consulting.” When we are working with these groups, we as facilitators are attempting to help these groups become more effective and efficient, solve problems, think outside the box to come up with new ideas and find better ways to conquer a task. As a business student, I have become more and more interested in the consulting industry and being a facilitator as allowed me to hone the skills that are necessary to work in that field.

What started as just a cool job for me has changed my life in more ways than I can imagine. I have met a whole new groups of people, both current and former students as well as professionals in the industry. My skills in working with teams, communication and feeling confident in uncomfortable situations have made me not only a better facilitator, but a better student and a better future business man.

If you are looking for a job on campus that is different than anything you have experienced before, check out the Syracuse University Challenge Course. Not only will you have a great time doing it, but you will also improve your interpersonal skills and develop a new way of thinking that can be used in any field and situation.


Written by: Clayton Davidson