Posted by Megan Shitama Weston ● Wed, May 28, 2014 @ 14:05 PM
New Ways to Step Out in Faith at Pecometh
I'm not exaggerating when I say that Pecometh's challenge course changed my life, so I'm excited that we're adding a few new opportunies for campers and guests to step out of the comfort zone and into new growth experiences.
I have never been much of a risk taker. I'm afraid of heights, I'm a bit of nervous nelly, and I just really prefer the stable and cautious route.
As a camp counselor I loved our low challenge course. Our low challenges are where much of the learning about communication, cooperation and collaboration happen. And just as importantly to me, we were never more than a foot or two off the ground!
I brought a lot of anxiety to my first experiences on the high challenge course, but I was comforted and encouraged when our staff began to talk about choosing your own level of challenge.
At Pecometh, high challenges aren't about climbing high (although that's an option!). At each challenge course element, the objective is for the climber to set goals that will push him or her out of the "comfort zone."
For some a challenging goal is "I'm going to climb three steps up on this metal ladder." For others it's more like "I'm going to climb to the top and back down with my eyes closed."
Goals all along that spectrum are treated equally.
Everyone is encouraged.
No one is pushed farther than she or he wants to go.
Particpants are encouraged to recognize the difference between the "growth zone" (where we are learning, growing and trying new things) and the "danger zone" (where we are overextending ourselves phsyically or emotionally.)
In my years on the challenge course, I have gradually gone from a scaredy-cat who "chooses not to climb" to a scaredy-cat who does all kinds of things I never imagined I could do.
I've learned to spend more time in the "challenge zone."
This is true on and off the course. I have completed rescue trainings that require me to push myself to new heights literally, physically and emotionally.
I'm so proud of how far I've come, and I'm even more grateful for the co-workers on the course who have invited and encouraged me along the way.
It doesn't end on the course, though. As challenge course facilitators we invite participants to translate on-course insights in ways that help them in "real life."
The concepts of risk, comfort and danger give us language as we decide how to approach challenges in life.
Taking a (perceived) risk and trusting our support system (in this case, the staff and fellow participants) is a wonderful metaphor for the ways that we put our trust in God and other people in our lives.
The experience of doing something we weren't sure we could do teaches us that it's ok to take calculated risks, and that we learn valuable lessons about ourselves when we do so.
Working through my fear of heights, it has helped me to process the ways that I "step out in faith" in my personal life.
I remember how during those first few climbs (and every climb since) I would remind myself that I was safe and supported.
I would repeat verses like "I can do all things through Christ who strenthens me." (How's that for active meditation?!)
I would check in with my support system on the ground, letting them know what I was thinking and what kind of support I needed.
It may sound silly, but those experiences were the begining of patterns that I follow in life when I am nervous about stepping out in faith. And I am often nervous about stepping out in faith!
I'm passionate about our challenge course, because our elements put into action many of the concepts we talk about in our communities of faith.
Sometimes as Christians we get stuck in our own spiritual comfort zones.
The physical act of stepping out in faith is a great reminder that God calls us to reach out into the world in ways that are sometimes uncomfortable or scary!
Experiencing the care and support of others while we take risks points us to the care of our God who both calls us into the growth zone and goes out on the limb with us.
So, now let me tell you about our 4 new high elements.... I'd love for your church, school, or community group to be able to come experience these and the other elements that our challenge course has to offer.
Catwalk/Dangle Duo. This is really a replacement for an element that we retired this year. The new version is taller than the original, though, and the "catwalk" log is longer - we've upped the ante!
On the Catwalk, participants climb up one pole, and then cross the "catwalk" like a balance beam. The Dangle Duo (the giant ladder hanging below) is actually a different element altogether. We have more rungs that are added on, and a pair of climbers works together to climb up. It's a great bonding experience!
Multi-Vine. This is a friendlier version of our other Multi-Vine. It's important that we are able to offer different levels of challenge, and we built this one with our less gung-ho climbers in mind.
On the Multi-Vine, the climber climbs up the pole on one side, and walks across the cable, holding on to the dangling ropes for support.
Burma Bridge. This is another "replacement" for an element we are retiring. However, this updated element has cables that aren't as wobbly, so it's less daunting for folks of different climbing abilities.
On the Burma Bridge, the climber climbs up one of the poles, walks across the bottom cable, and has two side cables to hold onto for support.
Flying Squirrel. This element is brand new to Pecometh! We're especially excited about the fact that this challenge is accessible to people of many levels of physical ability.
I know it's hard to figure out what you're looking at in this picture, so take a look at this video of a Flying Squirrel at a different camp.
Looks pretty fun!
If you are intersted in bringing a group to experience the Pecometh Challenge Course, you can get more information on our Challenge Course page. See you on the course!
Topics: Outdoor Classroom