Summer’s Comin’ In… and it’s goin’ outta style!

cropped-IMG_0990.jpgMay 2014

Summer is finally here (unofficially) and the SU Outdoor Challenge Course is up and running! We started the month of April with training, getting both returning facilitators refreshed and new facilitators trained. We hosted one of our favorite trainers, Kevin “Doc” Klein, who showed our facilitation staff the ropes, so to speak, as well as providing his unique style and insight into the processing aspects of challenge course facilitation. May started out slowly, but ended with a bang. On May 17 & 18 we had a blast hosting a weekend training session with community facilitators from the CNY region. During this training we were able to share new ideas, teach old ones, and laugh about ones that didn’t work as well as planned. Because of this training we were able to make connections, build friendships and introduce people to our “Odyssey” style challenge course, as well as the zip-line and triple leap of faith.

The later part of May brought a group that our facilitators won’t forget for quite some time… The Syracuse SWAT team participated in a four hour long, team building, fun, and slightly crazy time. In the end they showed how teams strive, work, and finish… together. We are looking forward to all the groups we’ll be working with over the course of the summer! Hope to see you “On Belay”!


It was a grand opening.. and a beautiful day!


Well, it’s official! We held our grand opening and official dedication ceremony on Tuesday October 8, which means the challenge course is open for business! It was a beautiful morning on the course, and with the Syracuse skyline in the backdrop, we couldn’t have asked for a more picture perfect moment. The metaphor of taking a “leap of faith” was not lost on us, as we opened the ceremony by literally having one of our fellow facilitators jump from the 30 foot “leap of faith” which symbolically opened the new outdoor challenge course! It has been an amazing experience in bringing this program and facility to life, and I cant help but reflect on all of the people who have supported this endeavor from vision to reality. Thank you all for your encouragement and support, we look forward to seeing you “on belay”.

Construction Update!

IMG_5398-1024x768 IMG_5397-1024x768 If a picture says a thousand words, then you can see how the course is taking shape! The top two pictures detail the challenge course and the towers, the third shows the Outdoor Education Center looking down from the path which leads up to the challenge course on top of the hill. One side of the course will house two levels of “static belayed” high elements, allowing up to 6 individuals the capacity to traverse these elements together. The right side of the course will house two levels of more traditional “dynamic belayed” elements, focusing more on the individual and their efforts within a group. More detail on element construction to follow in the next week!




The First Pole Gets Planted!

1st pole2It’s official, we watched as the first pole on our new challenge course was placed and planted into the ground last Friday! It was an Epic day, and from there, 19 more went into the ground. The high element “Triple Leap of Faith” has been placed as well.. Looking forward to seeing you all on course this fall!


The Poles Have Arrived!

poles-arrived-1024x768The poles have arrived, and the crew from Alpine Towers is working on digging holes and placing poles! By the end of the week, we should have poles in the ground, which means tower and element construction can get underway next week. Super excited to watch this course get built, are you? Keep checking back as I will be posting new construction photos as progress is made….

CNY Central takes the ‘Cuse Challenge

Bean-Pole-1-682x1024Talk about action news! On May 28, Brandon Roth from “Today in Central New York” came out to our Flanagan Gym indoor challenge course, to take part in the ‘Cuse Challenge!
Although Brandon struggled slightly with the High Swinging Beam (one of hardest indoor challenge course elements we have) he was able to stay persistent, focus on the task at hand, and accomplish his goal, which was to make it to the top of the rope ladder and traverse the swinging beam, 25 feet in the air! Check out this live video segment which aired at 6:00am on May 28.

Video: Brandon Roth takes the ‘Cuse Challenge


‘Cuse Challenge on "Bridge Street"

ropes_007The crew from “Bridge Street” was here in our Flanagan Gym last week, filming and interviewing one of our student employees as she challenged herself on the “High Swinging Beam” one of our indoor high elements. It was a great experience, to see one of our students conquer the fear she had of heights, and challenge herself to step outside of her comfort zone, push past her self-imposed limits, and complete the element. This is the essence of the challenge course; engaging people in activities and conversations that help them identify how to be successful in their goals, no matter what they are trying to accomplish.



Why Our Campaign Clues Mattered

teambuildingAs a fun way to engage the campus in leading up to the announcement yesterday, we posted blue-green lawn signs that read “What’s Being Built on South?” with clues such as: adventure, challenge, team building, problem-solving and experiential education. We also crafted riddles for each clue and posted them on the student blog, LivingSU–you know, like the medallion hunt on Today, we wanted to share with you all what these clues mean for the ‘Cuse Challenge Course:


There is always an adventure that awaits you when you undergo a challenge course. It’s scary, but exciting all at the same time. Not only will you get to complete fun challenges, but also you will develop new skills that can help you both personally and professionally. Adventure is all about learning through a new experience, exploring the unknown and gaining insight as to how you deal with situations that are new to you, or outside of your comfort zone.


One of the best things about working through a challenge course is the opportunity to step outside your comfort zone and be challenged by a new adventure. You will learn to push yourself beyond your limits. In the workplace, it is important to be adaptable and ready for any situation, to be able to solve problems as they present themselves. These same rules apply to a challenge course program, with transferable learning outcomes that apply to real-life situations.


Team Building

Whether in class, work, or at home, it’s important to know how to be a great team player. The ‘Cuse Challenge Course facilitators will help you along this path, as you build upon communication and problem solving skills, and work with others in your group to accomplish the various challenges presented to you. Great team players are not only supportive of their team, but they also help push their team forward.


In life, you will often be faced with tough decisions. Effective problem solving is the key to being able to navigate these situations as they arise. In a challenge course program, you may find yourself in a situation you cannot overcome without the help of your fellow group members. You have to be able to calm yourself down and determine your next move. You may need to STOP (Stop, Think, Observe and Plan) before moving forward, so that you can accomplish the task that was presented to you. Being able to effectively work together and solve problems as a group is a skill that will have tremendous carry-over as you move into real-life situations, whether it is in a job, or as a community volunteer, or simply accomplishing routine tasks in the midst of “life” happening around you.

Experiential Education

The new challenge course inspires a different kind of education. Lessons are learned through experience, not by lecture. For example, the only way you will learn how to conquer one of our High Element challenges known as the “Leap of Faith” is by trying it first. If you don’t get it right the first time, that’s okay! Learn from your mistakes and try it again.

I hope you all are excited about the new challenge course. I think it will be great fun!