Sep 022004
Authors: Karissa Ciarlelli

Cheers and shouts of encouragement erupt from the crowd standing

beneath the 45-foot climbing wall as a climber in a bright yellow

helmet nears the top.

“Push with your left leg!”

“That’s it! You’ve got it!”

The Challenge Course, 1717 Centre Ave., moved south of campus

when Summit Hall, the new residence hall, was built in its original

location on Pitkin Street.

Despite the change in location, the services are the same.

The course offers full- and half-day courses to CSU students as

well as the general public, with both low- and high-element


Half-day courses last five hours and cost $13 for CSU students.

Full days cost $22.

Ray Aberle, the assistant director of Campus Recreation, said

use of the course is evenly split between CSU students, local

school districts and religious and corporate groups.

The course combines four components into each course, Aberle


Energizers and games focus on problem solving and


The course also features a giant swing in which someone is

harnessed in and jumps off a platform to swing 30 feet through the


The Challenge Course’ other half features low elements, such as

the spider web, and high elements, which includes a tower with six

different routes and a catwalk.

Still, the course offers much more than just a physical

challenge, Aberle said. It is also a mental, emotional and

spiritual experience that allows people to learn more about


Karen Fowler, one of the 15 facilitators for the course, said

the course allows people to step out of their comfort zone and into

a “growth zone.”

“People tend to find out new things about themselves here and

discover what they’re capable of,” she said. “Often people will get

something out of the experience which they take with them and apply

to other aspects of their lives.”

The course is where success is not determined by achievement but

by willingness to try new experiences, according to the Web site,

The course experience emphasizes support, trust, safety and


Max Lamb, a freshman at Poudre High School, participated in the

course with his schoolmates as part of the International

Baccalaureate Program.

“You get to see the more serious side of people, because you

really can’t mess around while doing the course,” Lamb said.

Chris Hays, director of the IB Program for the Poudre School

District, said she brought the IB kids to the course to help ease

their anxieties about starting high school and to help the group to

build trust.

Hays participated in the course as part of her administrative

training at CSU for her position in Poudre School District.

“It’s really about having trust in yourself,” she said.

After a failed attempt, Poudre High School freshman Lindsey

Hankins reached the top of the climbing wall and said she was glad

to have overcome her fears.

“It’s a good feeling to get that far up,” she said.

The course, which was built in 1986, accepts groups of eight to

80 people, although 40 people are best fit for the space.

The course is fairly popular; more than 90 people came through

in two hours during Ram Welcome this year.

Typically 60 to 200 hundred people participate each week,

varying in age from 12 to 80.

“It’s about healthy risk-taking, team building and human

development,” Aberle said.

Aberle said the course is also somewhat of a renewing


“It uses you up,” he said. “You leave with a tiredness that

renews you, and with a deeper and knowledge of yourself.”

Sarah Blaser, a senior, has been working with the course for

three years.

“Our goal here is to let you set your own goals,” she said.

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