Character Development programs are designed to strengthen the classroom community through activities that foster teamwork, trust, communication, and a sense of closeness between students. This may be achieved through team-building initiatives, low ropes challenges, and our extensive high ropes challenge course.
During this program, Teacher Naturalists provide an opportunity for students to develop teamwork, cooperation, trust, and perseverance while also having fun. Students will collaborate to solve problems and overcome obstacles to strengthen classroom community. This is a prerequisite for High Ropes Challenges.
High Ropes Challenges
On our extensive redwood course, Teacher Naturalists provide students with the opportunity to challenge themselves and grow beyond their comfort zone. Secured in harnesses, students may balance on cables, climb trees, or swing through our forest canopy while being supported by their team. Our professional Teacher Naturalists/Challenge Course Facilitators will choose which high ropes element the group will participate in based on their evaluation of the group's needs and capabilities. This program is an additional $5/student. Team Challenges is a prerequisite.
Team Building Hike
The Team Building Adventure is a full day of exploration in our Redwood forest that provides a relaxed, yet intentional character development experience. The program is designed to complement a full week on the challenge course. Teacher Naturalists use carefully chosen challenge course initiatives, solo activities and journaling to facilitate group bonding, teamwork and meaningful reflection.
Designed with older students in mind, this campfire includes activities that allow the students to be the star of the show and creatively socialize with their classmates. Teacher Naturalists may facilitate group story telling or lead skits with students as the actors.
This night hike provides an opportunity for students to challenge themselves and support each other as they explore the forest in an exciting evening adventure. A Night Adventure may include a solo walk or other activities that allow students to face their fears and find their courage.
Mix & Mingle
This introductory program consists of a series of meaningful, lighthearted activities and conversations designed to strengthen the class community. These carefully facilitated activities, masquerading as playful games, cultivate camaraderie, highlight behavior, and allow students to practice healthy communication skills.
New Eyes facilitates a powerful dialogue in a class with considerable shared history. This program alleviates social tension and promotes a healthy community by giving participants the opportunity to communicate meaningful things in a controlled environment.
Challenge Course Elements
Team Challenge Elements
For many of our programs here at Westminster Woods groups will choose to focus on ground based activities. There are several reasons why our Team Challenge Elements may be more effective when hoping to achieve certain goals than our High Ropes Elements.
Our Team Challenge Course consists of over 25 elements, including a twelve foot tall scaling wall, large cargo nets, bridges, cable traverses, swinging ropes, wobbly balancing platforms, and giant spider webs. The focus of our Team Challenge Elements is to provide an environment for groups to work on skill sets such as teamwork and cooperation, clear communication, trust and perseverance. The activities are presented in a fun and exciting way, and are intentionally designed to push groups out of their comfort zone and help participants explore and better understand how they work together.
High Ropes Elements
Westminster Woods is an institutional member of the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT), and follows ACCT industry standards. ACCT is an internationally recognized industry leader in challenge course standards creation. For more information about ACCT, visit their website: www.acctinfo.org. Our course is inspected on a daily, monthly, and annual basis by trained on-site staff. In addition, we hire a third-party ACCT vendor member to perform a complete annual inspection of our course and equipment.
Our professional Teacher Naturalists/Challenge Course Facilitators will choose which of these high ropes elements the group will participate in based on their evaluation of the group's needs and capabilities.
The inclined log is a 30 foot timber lashed at an incline between two trees. Starting from 8 feet off the ground, participants must use their determination and balance to walk the length of the log to the top, at 4o feet. This element can be performed alone, or as part of the Giant Swing series.
The Swing is a favorite element among the challenge course staff. Three distinct challenges make up the Swing: The Inclined Log, shown above, a ‘postman’s walk’, and the swing itself. While being held in the air by a belay system, participants climb a ladder, then walk the inclined log. After reaching the top, participants cross the ‘Postman’s Walk’ by stepping down onto a foot-cable and traversing by using a hand-line for balance. Once participants have crossed, they will meet a facilitator stationed at the swing platform who will assist them in securely clipping into our Giant Swing. Once the facilitators give the command, participants leave the platform, and find themselves swinging on a four story giant swing, soaring through our canyon!
Another favorite element, our 300 foot zipline begins with a walk up our ‘zipline trail’. Once at the top of the trail, participants must traverse a postman’s walk to reach the Zip Takeoff Platform where they are greeted by a facilitator who will assist them in attaching themselves to the Zip Line. Participants are faced with a daunting task: letting themselves fall from a 40ft. platform, then zipping through our canyon far below…Once participants have reached the bottom, they are assisted by a facilitator in exiting the Zip Line.
Our tallest element, the Lions Leap can be challenging in more ways than one. Participants climb nearly 50 feet up a mature Douglas Fir Tree, with the option of climbing the handles in the tree, or climbing the hanging cargo net (see picture to the right). Once they reach the platform above, the participant can walk, run, or inch their way to the end of ‘the plank’, where they leap for an adjustable hanging trapeze. Whether they catch it or miss, they are slowly lowered to the ground. A challenging element, not for the faint of heart!
At 25 feet in height the Eagle’s Perch may be one of our shorter elements, yet still packs a powerful punch. Participants climb a pole using ‘staples’ as handholds. Once at the top, participants must stand upon the top of the pole. Some find this to be extremely difficult, as the platform on top is quite small, and the pole can wobble… Once standing, participants leap out to try and hit one (or both) of the tetherballs suspended in the air before them. Hit or miss, participants are gently lowered to the ground.
The High V is a challenge designed for partners. 30 feet in the air, two cables run from one tree to two separate trees. The goal is for a pair of participants to stand on the opposing cables facing one another, traversing out as far as they can using one another for support. By supporting one another, it is possible to make it extremely far! A great activity to emphasize the importance of support, trust, teamwork, and giving a helping hand…
Another paired element, the Giant’s Ladder requires a combination of strategy, balance, and strength. Participants first climb up a suspended cargo net to reach the first large rung of a ladder. The second rung rests 5 feet above the first and requires teamwork (or amazing agility) to reach it. Partners must help each other if they hope to succeed in reaching the top of this ladder. Once at the top, participants have a spectacular treetop view, claiming victory over the Giant’s Ladder before being lowered gently to the ground by their teammates.
The Multivine is a test in balance and cooperation. In pairs, participants climb up to a foot cable that runs between two trees. The goal is to traverse as far along the cable as possible. Suspended like vines (hence the name) along the length of the cable are several lengths of rope. Using each other, as well as these ropes, participants traverse through the trees until they have accomplished the goals set out before them.
The Coho Crossing is another element that pairs participants together to overcome multiple obstacles as they traverse their way across the beautiful Dutch Bill Creek. With their partner, participants work together to make it across to the first platform. From there, they will go through a series of commands to communicate with one another as they transfer to the second leg of the course. Participants will then make their way back through a second set of obstacles until they have returned to solid ground.
The Creek Zip is the perfect introduction to the high ropes course. Younger participants and those with little experience with heights can enjoy a relaxing zipline across Dutch Bill Creek. The beauty of this element is that there is usually enough time for participants to ride more than once! On their second or third try, participants can opt to go off backwards or even wear a blindfold.
The Static Course is a wonderful activity for groups who desire work in responsibility, trust, cooperation, and communication. Paired participants will work together to traverse a series of conjoined elements while taking direct responsibility for their own safety through a self-belay system. Facilitators will lead the group through a course of seven high elements, ranging from 10-35 feet off the ground. As many as 12 people can be off the ground at one time, making this a true ‘team’ activity.