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Up for a challenge?

CSUB course, open to the public, builds self-confidence, teamwork

Two CSUB resident assistants tackle the Postman’s Walk.

The CSUB Challenge Course features 21 elements designed to build self-confidence, teamwork, problem-solving and fear-conquering among individuals and groups. Here, two CSUB resident assistants, Deon Danehy and Mia Moreno, tackle the Postman’s Walk during a team-bonding outing. Photos by Hannah Banks/CSUB Public Affairs and Communication

By CHRISTINE BEDELL
Alumni Engagement Specialist
cbedell1@csub.edu

David Wilson made it more than 20 feet up the ladder to the catwalk when he stopped, unable to ascend any higher.

To get around a cable in his way, Wilson would have to release one of his hands and one of his feet from the rungs. And despite being attached to safety cables, he was afraid of falling.

“I’m confident you can do it!” a fellow CSUB resident assistant yelled from the ground. “America believes in you!” another called out, referring to RA America Bustos.

After a few minutes of going up and down a couple rungs, Wilson let out a “grrr!” and propelled himself around the cable and up to the catwalk. His legs were shaking, but he made it.

“You can never really conquer your fears unless you face them,” Wilson would later say about the experience.

Conquering fears is one of the lessons CSUB’s new Challenge Course is designed to teach. And now members of the general public – not just CSUB students and staff – can learn those lessons.

A man climbs to a catwalk at CSUB’s Challenge Course

RA David Wilson begins his climb up a pair of ladders leading to a catwalk at CSUB’s Challenge Course.

The CSUB Student Recreation Center has opened the course to community groups interested in fostering teamwork, trust and communication skills.

Each group must have at least eight participants. The cost varies depending on the type of group (whether from a nonprofit or corporation, for example), its size, how long it wants to spend at the course and the elements it wants to tackle.

The SRC provides facilitators to lead the exercises and ensure safety.

“The challenge program is a great opportunity for groups to come and learn how to better work together,” said Marshall McArthur, the SRC’s coordinator for outdoor adventures and experiential education. “Whether the group is just looking for a fun experience, or wanting an intentionally structured program to work on specific goals as a group, we can provide both opportunities.”

Facilitator travels from one platform to another one.

Facilitator Mitchell Woodbury travels from one platform to another on CSUB’s Challenge Course.

The Challenge Course features 21 elements as high as 25 and 32 feet in the air that test not only strength and balance but self-confidence and problem-solving. 

There’s a massive cargo net to climb, catwalk and “Rowdy Bridge” to traverse and “Giants Ladder” to conquer alongside a partner. At the end you can have some fun flying down a zipline.

Student fees funded the Challenge Course, which opened earlier this year.

MORE PHOTOS: Check out all our Challenge Course photos on Flickr.com.

Wilson was among a group of resident assistants braving the Challenge Course to bond, build trust and learn to work together as the school year approached, said RA Deon Danehy, who is entering the master’s in public administration program this fall.

Last year, he said, the RAs traveled to Santa Barbara for a similar team-bonding experience, at a course not as good as CSUB’s. It’s nice to have one right across the street from student housing, he said.

Danehy said he never feared for his safety at the course because of how kind, patient and obviously well-trained the facilitators were. He encouraged anyone with even a hint of interest in the course to give it a try.

“Trust the staff,” he said. “They know what they’re doing. They won’t let anyone fail or hurt themselves.”

 A “belay” team helps ensure the safety of a climber

A “belay” team comprised of RAs Jacquie Russo, Richard Pimentel and Mia Moreno, along with facilitator Mitchell Woodbury, keeps a safety rope tight and organized to help ensure the safety of a climber on CSUB’s Challenge Course.

When Wilson got up to the catwalk after his initial hesitation, you could see team-bonding in action.

“You guys got me, right?” he yelled down to the “belay” team that was holding onto his safety rope.

“Yes!” the team yelled back.

Wilson walked the catwalk then doubled back a few feet to get into position to be lowered down. Following instructions, he leaned backward.

“We got you!” the belay team assured Wilson as he descended. “Don’t you worry.”