History of ropes courses
Ropes courses, also known as challenge courses, use the physical outdoors, and both perceived and actual risk to develop group cohesion, leadership skills, effective communication and critical thinking. A ropes course acts as a catalyst to achieve results. The environment forces people to work together, to trust each other, and to think creatively in safe, supported situations. Teams learn how to work together and become reliable teammates, while individuals enhance self-esteem and learn to push their own self-created boundaries.
In the early days of World War II, ropes courses were developed as a form of military training that required teamwork from soldiers. The name “ropes course” originates with these early versions that consisted of ropes strung from trees or other structures to create a series of obstacles that provide physical and mental challenges for individuals and groups.
Ropes courses have come a long way from the early days –as the ropes have been replaced with steel cables and forged steel bolts, and all courses are equipped with high-tech belay devices and safety systems and are constructed in a variety of areas including open fields or wooded areas.
The challenge course industry grew out of a desire to implement a wilderness type experience in a fixed setting, as opposed to the expedition setting. A course is defined as a series of activities, sometimes on or close to the ground (usually referred to as a low course) and sometimes built on utility poles or trees (a high course).
Ropes courses are used to train and develop physical strength and camaraderie as well as to enhance team building and problem solving skills among participants.