Learning the ropes of leadership
A new place is being developed on the campus of Southern Wesleyan University in Central that will make learning about leadership and teamwork an outdoor adventure.
According to Dr. Roger McKenzie, religion professor at SWU and a coordinator for the project, a challenge course is being developed in a portion of Southern Wesleyan’s campus, known as the “Hundred Acre Wood.” Faculty members from a variety of disciplines have been involved in the planning, along with members of the Student Life staff.
Development of the course is proving to be a lesson in leadership for Nelson Rosenberger, who is developing the challenge course for his Eagle Scout project. Rosenberger is a member of Boy Scout Troop 134 in Six Mile and is a senior at Oconee Christian Academy. His parents, Jeff and Lenora Lewis Rosenberger, are SWU graduates.
McKenzie, along with Dr. Daryl Couch, associate vice president for institutional effectiveness, joined Rosenberger, fellow scouts and friends, spending several Saturdays clearing brush, then laying out and constructing the course. Rosenberger estimates 150 man hours have been put into the course so far.
“On most of the work days we had five or six people there, including leaders and adults,” Rosenberger said. “The largest group we had was the day we cleaned out the sites – 10 to 15 people.”
“Our plan is to build upon what Nelson has accomplished and create an adventure-based educational environment,” Couch said. Currently there are six elements, which include a trust fall platform, 12-foot wall, spider web and other obstacles that test climbing and balancing skills, and – most importantly – teach people how to work together with others to accomplish goals.
Area businesses and individuals are supporting the effort through financial contributions and the donation of supplies. A financial donation came from retired SWU professor emeritus Don Schaupp, along with his wife Shannon, whose ministry, “The Potter’s Place,” is located nearby. Duke Energy donated a utility pole for a course element known as the TP Walk. Also, Lowe’s donated some of the materials used to build elements.
“Lots of groups on campus will benefit from participating in various teambuilding activities and experiences, including new students and athletic teams,” McKenzie said. He also sees the course attracting scout troops, church groups, community groups and corporations that are seeking a place for teambuilding. McKenzie added that the course would provide an excellent place for SWU students to gain experience for a variety of careers, including working at a camp or in other adventure education settings.
“This spring we will be adding more elements to the course and we will be also working on the hiking/biking trail and the renovation of a house adjacent to the woods as our base for SWU’s adventure programs,” Couch said. “We also plan to begin work on the high ropes course within the next year or two. We are very excited to see the impact this new endeavor will have on our students and community over the next few years.”
Below: Rosenberger and a challenge course element called “Whale Watch,” which tests a group’s ability to balance the seesaw-like platform. (Bob Sears photo)