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Purposeful Adventure, Team building, Personal Development and also Natural ‘Free Range’ Outdoor Play

Posted by Andrew Stuart on


Challenge Low Ropes Course Plans & Module Construction


Low Ropes Courses challenge the individual participant apart from the group. They present tests of physical strength, stamina, agility, balance, and flexibility, and they invite participants (challenge by choice) to confront such emotional issues as the fear of heights, the fear of failure, and the fear of losing control. They require participants to draw upon reserves of courage and strength and to re-examine assumptions about their physical and emotional limitations. Conducted within a context of group encouragement and support, facilitated programs often lead participants to a heightened awareness of self and to an increase of confidence and self-esteem.

Low Ropes Courses are purposefully constructed just above the ground (normally around 60cm). Consisting of a series of wire rope cables and swinging rope elements, they present participants with tests of physical strength, stamina, coordination and agility. Courses can be designed/facilitated for individual challenge, partner challenge, or full-group team challenges. The success of a group in meeting the challenge of a low ropes course depends on the ability of participants to work together and to support one another. 'Safety Belay' rope systems commonly used for high ropes courses are generally not present on low ropes courses. Instead, program risk management is handled through close participant spotting under supervision. In some cases this is done entirely by group facilitators; or else in most other cases, group participants are taught how to ‘spot’ safely and charged with protecting their fellow team members.

Individual Ropes Course initiatives are generally conducted within a group context of 12 or more, led by at least 1 experienced facilitator. Additional risk managers and spotters may be trained from within the group or additional staff. Low ropes course elements are most frequently combined with group initiatives and other obstacles. Many low ropes elements are both versatile and flexible and can be used to achieve a variety of outcomes for different age groups. For example, for really young children, the focus is most often on the development of psychomotor skills, while for youth and adults, the focus is on shared risk taking, trust, group safety, risk management and goal setting in a group context – and of course, having stacks of FUN!

Challenge Ropes Course Overview of Programming Goals

We would highly recommend that before choosing to purchase challenge course equipment or purchase elements to be constructed, it is important to identify the goals for your long-term programming. For example, programs seeking group work and team building will generally benefit most from just group initiative activities (eg. Spider’s Web, Tyrolene Traverse, Caterpillar Walk etc.). Whereas groups seeking personal growth, confidence building, and individual strengths challenge will generally benefit most from low ropes course type elements.

Many campsites and outdoor education programs will opt for a combination of the two. Catering for varying populations of mixed age groups will significantly alter the potential element design and the options available. Courses for younger participants, corporate groups, disabled individuals and summer campers are all designed with varying characteristics. However, there are some overlapping similarities. All our ropes course elements are interchangeable, and can simply be moved around each year or two, to enable a ‘fresh’ look to the course, and this also keeps your clients interested in returning to your campsite or low ropes course facility.

Group Initiative Activities & Low Ropes Course Elements

Group initiatives, involving real and imaginary ground-based obstacles, present physical, mental, and emotional challenges that invite a group to explore teamwork strategies and demonstrate for themselves the importance of planning, cooperation, and effective communication. All of which are vital ‘life’ skills to any team, or human relationship.

The success of a group in meeting the challenges of an initiative sequence will depend not only upon individual strengths but also upon creativity, tenacity, strategic planning, shared risk taking, the allocation of resources, and the ability to create a climate in which individuals are able to trust each other and in which each member’s contributions are recognised and valued. In the process, members should discover their collective power to meet the ongoing similar challenges of working in other settings – this is called ‘transference’.

Whatever the focus of any low ropes course or outdoor challenge program, nearly every group comes away from the experience with a renewed sense of teamwork, ‘community’ and common purpose. The potential for human growth of a highly effective facilitated challenge ropes course experience is huge!  Having facilitated numerous programs and ropes course facilities, and been involved in building several ropes courses here in WA, we have seen these amazing results over a period of nearly 4 decades here in WA.

Individual Low Ropes Course Module Costs

We can send you an itemized price list which is simply designed to convey an idea of the general costs involved in constructing and maintaining a challenge low ropes course:

  • Prices do not reflect the additional cost of initial site visits, utility poles, ground preparation works, wood mulch and any other tree/shrub removal required prior to construction, specialty outdoor safety equipment for participants (eg. harnesses/helmets).
  • Nor are the costs of any site works preparation (clearing, woodchips, landscaping, or building any additional alterations/changes to existing elements as required by the campsite owners) included in these figures.
  • However, the annual maintenance* and any adjustments required within the first 12 months of the course completion are included ‘free’ in the ropes course construction phase. At least one additional site visit is recommend (included) after approx. 4 – 6 months to adjust the rigging gear and tighten all construction elements.

All construction methods and materials will conform to ACCT / PRCA International Challenge Ropes Course & Zip Line Construction Standards.  If you would like to find out more, send us an e-mail message or forward us your project plan proposal.

Andrew Stuart    Outdoor Gear Australia    e: 

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