It is ropes course season! Now, I know there are many different opinions about ropes courses, so I will share mine based on over 20 years of using them.

First off, a ropes course is an outdoor (typically) adventure facility that has activities that participants progress through that are physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging.

Ropes courses are rooted in Experiential Learning and Adult Learning concepts.

After doing activities facilitators debrief the participants experience and then discuss how the experience relates to work and or general life situations. Topics may include effective communication, team dynamics, problem solving, conflict resolution and effective leadership.

3 Keys to Success

The 3 keys to a successful ropes course experience are 1) Type of ropes course experience, 2) Purpose, and 3) Effective facilitation.

1)Type of Ropes Course

There are many variations of ropes courses. They generally fall into the following categories.

Low Ropes Course (Challenge Course)

A low ropes course is a series of physical problem-solving activities that the group works together to figure out. Most of these are low to the ground.

Watch a low ropes course program

 High Ropes Course

A high ropes course is a series of challenge activities that are 20-30 feet off the ground. Think of it as an adult playground full of activities that challenge the individual to do more than they think they can.

Power Pole

A power pole is an exceptional tool for leadership development. Simply put, the participant climbs up a tall pole, stands upon it, and jumps off while trying to hit a target. Of course, the participants teammates are holding ropes attached to the participants harness.

Zip Line

Zip line is a very exhilarating experience.  Participants slide down a long cable for a fast and fun ride. Ziplines pretty much are an individual experience. This event is great for stretching individual comfort zones and having a “yahoo!” experience. They can also be used as metaphors of going on a great journey.

Watch a high ropes / power pole / zip line

2) Purpose

Having clarity of purpose is critical for a successful ropes course experience. Do you want to just have fun, or do you want to learn new skills, or do you want to create a shift in team or leader performance? There are 3 main purposes for corporate ropes course programs:

Team Outing

If you are looking to do a fun team outing a ropes course can be a blast. Use any type of ropes course and have a fun time together. This experience is great for people to get to know each other, build cohesion, and have fun.

Team Building

Low ropes courses are great for new teams to advance their team effectiveness or for existing teams to take it to the next level. Teams learn tools and techniques for working at a higher performance level.

Leadership Development

The combination of a low ropes course and a power pole experience is great for helping leaders break through the barrier of being a compelling leader vs being an effective manager.

3) Effective Facilitation

The third key ingredient to a successful ropes course experience is the facilitation approach. Most ropes course sites have trained facilitators who are great at risk management and basic facilitation. These facilitators are very good for team outings. If you are looking to do team building and or leadership development, it is a wise investment to bring in a consultant that specifically focuses on leader and team development.

In my opinion ropes courses are highly effective tools to use in Leadership Development and Team Building. So, book yourself a ropes course experience and get outside while the weather is great. Feel free to contact us to help you find a course near you. We also would love to lead a team building or leadership development course for your organization.


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