When A Course Inspection Is More Than Just A Course Inspection

BEVERLY, Mass. Apr. 24, 2017 Sometimes it’s difficult to put into words all of the “things” we are capable of doing at Project Adventure. We could say the basic: “we build and install challenge courses,” “we write curriculum for physical education and health and wellness classes,” or “we do team building,” or… The list could go on, but those “things” we do don’t even fracture the iceberg of our organization’s work. Our doors to innovate the experiential education field through the use of adventure opened in 1971, and 46 years later, we’re still innovating and finding new ways to affect more lives because that’s what we want: to provide opportunities for lasting positive growth within communities. So, to make that change, we use adventure and the concept of challenge by choice. We love seeing our participants engage with the struggle of learning and come out with a smile on their face and the knowledge of how to spread that positive energy to effect even greater change. Even though we use adventure in the classroom or on the ground, it’s the adventure in the air that some people look forward to the most. We know that the high elements are a lot of fun and require building trust, so everyone gets the most out of the experience, but we also know that they need careful and routine maintenance and inspection. Providing a safe environment is by far the most important thing about the work we do whether it’s on the land or in the trees. You would think that while we’ve built many challenge courses for many clients, that it’s all part of a day’s work, but that’s not the case. Every site is different, and we purposefully design each course with the goals and objectives of our clients in mind. We take into account the clientele that will use the course and craft elements to make sure that anyone who wants the adventure has the chance to experience it. Such is the case with the work we’ve done with the for the Connecticut Burns Care Foundation for the Arthur C. Luf Children’s Burn Camp. Susan Howard, the Connecticut Burns Care Foundation Administrator, wrote, “One of the greatest and most anticipated feature of burn camp is our ropes course. We have seen great results in boosting the self-confidence of the kids who learn the value of teamwork and overcoming obstacles. This ropes course would never have happened if it was not for the dedication of the Project Adventure team. Each year they do what is necessary to keep our inspections up to code and the course fun and safe. We want only the best for our campers; therefore, we trust them completely knowing the course will always be tip-top. Thanks PA for keeping the smiles on our kids’ faces!” It’s amazing to think of all the hours that go into the design and installation of a challenge course, but when we know who we’re working for, time isn’t a factor. It validates our mission to see these kids enjoy themselves and accomplish the goals they set and didn’t think could achieve.

Providing Personalized Experiences Through Technical Trainings​

BEVERLY, Mass. Apr. 20, 2017 The sun is out and that means so are our trainers. The energy is high in the building and on the course and it’s a direct reflection of our enthusiasm to bring innovation and excitement for learning to all of our participants. It was after our last Advanced Skills and Standards (ASAS) that the trainer for the workshop, Austin Paulson, took a moment to reflect on the learning experience and the importance of making sure challenge course professionals are up to date with their trainings. The ASAS workshop just completed this week, and it was a real pleasure for many reasons. The small group allowed for a very personal approach to instruction that often does not happen in large groups. Project Adventure (PA) does an excellent job setting reasonable ratios of trainers to clients so that we get to know each other well. As in this case, this translates into being able to motivate each other to attain a high bar of performance. In this workshop, we were able to identify the particular learning styles and desired outcomes of each participant and teach (peer and instructor) to that style. Knowing how to tie a knot in many different ways builds a teacher who can reach students in many different ways. Our ASAS team quickly recognized this and interacted in a way that capitalized on this learning approach. Our group was also committed to moving through content thoughtfully and efficiently to make the most of our time. Given our efficiency and focus, we were able to have time for several repetitions of complex rescue systems to solidify our technical abilities and to have extended conversations about our industry and organizational best practices.  Our training participants appreciated Project Adventure’s long time status (original members) as an accredited Professional Vendor Member (PVM) of the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) and that PA staff have participated on the ACCT Board of Directors, Standards Committee, and other working groups. It says a lot to have these standards back up our training and products. Because of this, the ASAS group was confident with their skills needed to go back to their programs with a high-quality technical experience and new ideas about professionalism and moving the quality of our programs forward.  It’s always exciting to watch participants discover something new about their learning and to know that they’re walking away from the course with a stronger technical understanding about how to safely operate an adventure program. ​

Staying Current With A Technical Training Pathway​

BEVERLY, Mass. Apr. 14, 2017 So you got a notice after your course inspection that asks if you booked your training. You might ask yourself, “What training? Why? You just said my course passed so why do I need to send people to workshops?” These are all valid questions, and the answers aren’t always obvious until you participate in a training with our certified trainers at Project Adventure. Our trainers are ACCT certified, Practitioner Certification Level 2 or higher, and have a passion for educating everyone who walks onto the course with the most current understanding of Standard Operating Procedures and how to improve their technical knowledge of course elements. Over the past week, the Technical Skills Intensive and the Advanced Skills and Standards workshops, as well as the Practitioner Certification Exam offered insight into the reason why training is so important at every site and to every individual operating a challenge course. We had people from a variety of organizations and roles within those organizations, take this series of trainings so they could go back to their programs, better informed and ready to assume a new and greater responsibility with their staff. MB Buckner, Laura MacDonald, and Austin Paulson worked hard with workshop participants to learn from one another and to make sure everyone walked away from the course at the end of the day with a better understanding of why it is so important to stay up to date in an industry that creates a safe learning environment for all of its visitors. Facilitating groups on a challenge course isn’t just about tying knots and checking harnesses. Being a facilitator means that you know what to do in challenging situations that might require a cut away rescue or a belay escape while still maintaining a clear head and keeping everyone safe. So, back to that course inspection. Your cables and ropes may have passed the test, but it’s important that your staff does, too and that they learn from professionals that helped write the industry standards. The wealth of knowledge that MB, Laura, and Austin bring to the trainings is something that everyone in the industry should experience. ​

Women’s Lacrosse Team Strengthens Team Unity At Project Adventure

BEVERLY, Mass. Apr. 11, 2017 The female athletes from the Westhampton Beach High School lacrosse team visited our challenge course in Beverly, MA to discover another level of grit and how important it is to keep moving forward even when it seems impossible. Being in high school has its set of difficulties, and add to that the stress of maintaining grades to be eligible for weekly games and then planning for life after graduation. For all of the uncertainties life holds for these athletes, there are a few things these women can count on: the importance of facing challenges head on, supporting each other when things get difficult, and not giving up on yourself or others. Our facilitators put these women into situations that tested each of them in unexpected ways and encouraged them to stretch their comfort zones. Regardless of the challenge, they were all able to persevere and have a strong sense of team unity at the end of the day. Grit is more than just the ability to see a task through to the end; it’s the experience of learning through the process, having the courage and endurance to finish something that is difficult, and understanding that no matter the outcome, it’s the quality of your character that matters the most. After having this mid-season team building experience at Project Adventure, these athletes will be ready to take on their remaining opponents without fear of letting each other down. ​

New Ropes Course Expands Outdoor Discovery Schools Offerings in Freeport, ME


When L.L.Bean decided to build upon its extensive array of outdoor activities offered at their Outdoor Discovery Schools, they knew they wanted a challenging adventure-based outdoor learning experience that combined teamwork, problem-solving, relationship building and more. As a result, L.L.Bean chose Project Adventure to design and install a ropes course, as well as provide training in outdoor experiential learning to its staff.

Project Adventure has been working with schools and organizations for 45 years and was excited when L.L.Bean approached them about the opportunity to develop a ropes course that encourages team building, improves communication and decision-making, all while having a great time outdoors. Richard Ross, the Executive Director of Project Adventure, stated, “We’re honored to have partnered with L.L.Bean on a project that will expand its program offerings with a unique new element.”

While the work may have started this past fall, it will continue far into the future as staff members at L.L.Bean will be trained as course facilitators to develop social emotional learning programs that benefit area schools, youth agencies, and other local organizations.

ABOUT PROJECT ADVENTURE Project Adventure is an innovative non-profit teaching organization and a respected leader in adventure-based experiential programming offering a wide range of programming as well as challenge course design and installation. Since 1971, Project Adventure has been committed to its mission of producing life-changing outcomes by facilitating transformative group experiences. For more information, visit http://www.pa.org

Project Adventure