Monday, October 26, 2015

UIS Challenge Course teaches trust, teamwork

The "trust fall" typically comes near the end of the newly opened Challenge Course at University of Illinois Springfield. 

Challenges courses, also known as "ropes courses," have been around for decades as teamwork and personal development exercises for groups ranging from athletic teams to corporate human resources departments.

The UIS Challenge Course was built on the grounds of Spencer House, a university-owned home on West Lake Shore Drive. The UIS course is a "low rope," challenge, meaning the network of ropes, cables, platforms, pedestals and beams is low to the ground. A "high rope" course ranges from 25 to 50 feet in the air. While the course would seem to encourage competition, that is not the idea behind the concept, said James Koeppe, director of the UIS Department of Campus Recreation.

"A lot of people think it's like 'Survivor' or some kind of tough physical thing," Koeppe said during a course dedication Wednesday with The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce.

"Through a series of briefings and discussions afterwards, we relate back to how we to do things as a team or back at the office," Koeppe said. "Ideally, what are you going to do differently tomorrow than you did yesterday?"

The UIS course primarily has been targeted toward athletic, student and university groups, but Koeppe said one point of the chamber ribbon-cutting was to begin marketing the course to businesses and not-for-profits. Challenge course designers and vendors have their own professional association.

Participants typically navigate the course in groups of eight to 15. The UIS course has capacity for up to 150. Sessions usually are three to four hours, though all-day challenges are available. The cost is $8 to $50 per person, depending on the type and length of the challenge.

UIS Chancellor Susan Koch said she has completed portions of the course. "Someday we're going to have a high rope course as well as a low rope course," Koch said.

This story appeared online in The State Journal-Register on October 24, 2015.

Read the entire article here.