March 2011 Archives

Sharpen those Skills!

Last spring Chris Ortiz posted an article entitled Wake Up that outlined several important steps in preparing your challenge course for the busy programming season ahead. Well, it's that time of year again and it's time to start waking up and conducting those pre-programming walkthroughs in preparation for 2011. This spring I'd like to encourage you think about another part of the challenge course that's probably one of the most valuable contributors to the safety and effectiveness of your program, the challenge course practitioner. Here are a few tips and resources for taking inventory and dusting off those skills in preparation for another successful challenge course season.

Fear: Good, Bad or Ugly?

Part 2: Hijacking the Amygdala

In Part 1 of this series, I gave some background as to how I came to be interested in fear and its connections with work on challenge courses. My next challenge will be to explain the process our body and minds go through in an emotionally charged situation. How we react, how we process, why we freeze up, shake, make funny faces... Why?
I'll first put this into context of the challenge course. On the challenge course we're faced with three participant types; someone with no previous experience on a challenge course, someone with a previous negative experience or someone who has been on a challenge course and had a positive experience. As we delve into what is happening in the brain and body during a potentially threatening situation, it will be important to think about what these different participants types are experiencing.

52 Pick Up


As promised at the 2011 Practitioners Symposium here's 52 Pick Up, the latest addition to High 5's Print & Play Prop collection. 52 Pick Up is an all new, hilarious way to get your groups moving, talking, taking risks and interacting. Simply print the attached PDF including the activity write-up and set of 52 cards to get started. The activity can be adapted, changed, and even improved on to meet your unique program goals so feel free to get creative. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
52 Pick UP.pdf

Vermont Academy Students Shine!

At a time when our world is struggling more than ever with how to communicate and politicians in Washington continue to favor blind partisanship over the common good, students at Vermont Academy were models of civil discourse at a recent school wide dialogue about issues of respect, acceptance, harassment and bullying held on Feb. 8.


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How do you use what you're passionate about to inform your work?

In my case, I've recently found myself in an incredibly creative space both in my professional and likewise, personal life. In fact, thinking about it... I've come to experience a wonderful sense of fulfillment related to the subject. As an adventure practitioner with an appreciation for contemporary art, I wanted to combine an artistic interpretation of an activity called Challenge Circles with a collaborative adventure experience; and so I created a series of images called Circles, summarized in this 38 second video.

Recent Comments

  • Rachel Sampson: I would like to try this but can't find where read more
  • Jen Ottinger: Hi Ryan! Great words to live by. read more
  • markcollardinc: Ryan, I saw Michelle Cummings present this exercise earlier this read more
  • markcollardinc: Ditto! We - Ryan, Nate and me - all reading read more
  • markcollardinc: Hey Ryan, why is this activity called Ubuntu CIRCLE when read more
  • higherbeing: Love it! read more
  • Wes: Hi Ryan. I am currently looking into establishing a physics read more
  • Ryan McCormick: Thanks Nate, I love this activity and find useful in read more
  • Nate Folan: Right on Ryan! This activity is very effective. Thanks for read more
  • Ryan McCormick: Well, it depends on the size of the group. With read more