As a part of our Happy Valley Internship training we became High Ropes Course Facilitators. For two days we were shown “the ropes” (haha!) of tying knots, strapping on harnesses, and belaying so that we may help run a high ropes session. We had three different instructors throughout training, all very knowledgeable, so we gained an abundance of information from multiple viewpoints.
First Paul taught us about harnesses and hard hats, then eight knots and super-eight knots. We practiced our skills relentlessly, until we could effortlessly create the perfectly dressed knot of necessity. We learned when to use which kind of knot, and about four types of carabiners and when to use them.
Finally we took our skills to the high ropes, designating a belay (the person on the ground) and a climber (the person attached by a rope and pulley to the belay). The belay holds the rope and follows the climber. If the climber falls, the belay has their back (by harness), as well as lowers the climber to the ground when finished.
There is a lot of physics that goes in to setting up a ropes course and designing the proper rope for each climbing element. For example, the ropes and wires are able to withstand the weight of 10 times the heaviest person who might ever climb! That helped us feel much more secure in our trust in the ropes system. Each element has ropes with a specific level of elasticity to accommodate the height and level of impact. The Leap of Faith rope, for example, has a higher elasticity than the Bermuda Loops rope.
After our two days of intensive training, our trainers brought their families, and our beloved Tim and Lisa Dodds came to us for a Play Day. We facilitated and were able to watch the way our trainers set up for a session. Of course, they add in much more experiential programming tailored to each group’s needs, so it was interesting to get to be a part of it.
With this training, we are qualified to facilitate our own camp groups that come to our facility, and we will also have the chance to go out on jobs with APEX, the organization that does program planning for groups on different high ropes courses. Challenge Works is the organization that trained us, and they’re the ones who build the courses. Pretty cool, huh?