Outdoor Education Center Constructed to Promote Leadership


outdoor ed center"That was the hardest thing I've ever done," said Registrar Sara Brackin after successfully scaling the 50-foot north wall of the university's new climbing tower.

Brackin and five others were undergoing a weeklong training program this summer to become facilitators for the new Outdoor Education Center. The project, consisting of a 50-foot ropes tower, climbing wall and six, shorter stations, is located in the five-acre wood on north campus.

Funded from a federal grant and constructed by Alpine Towers International, the center was dedicated in March, 2002 and will be used by students, faculty, staff and the community at-large. University officials said it would benefit the campus and the community in many ways.

The cost of the project is $98,700 and was paid for by a grant obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor through the Lumber River Council of Governments (COG). The Health and Physical Education Department will manage the project.

Heading up the project for the PE Department were Associate Professor Mary Beaver, Instructor Denise Renfrow, Women's Tennis Coach Robyn Langley and Scott Haith, a graduate assistant. They were assisted by Ottis Murray, a grant writer for the Office of Sponsored Research, Sylvia Pate, director of the Regional Center and Associate Vice Chancellor for Outreach Richard Bothel.

The university worked with Lumber River Council of Goverments (COG) on the funding. The Student Government Association (SGA) chipped in a $500 gift and Physical zip linePlant prepared the site for construction.

A ropes course is designed to build teamwork, leadership, problem-solving skills and self-esteem. Diverse community groups such as Communities in School, Juvenile Services and Upward Bound have expressed interest in the center, and there is a great deal of interest among diverse groups on campus.

"I anticipate using this program a lot with our Leadership Service Opportunies Program (LSOP) as well as other student groups, such as Student Government, Greeks and clubs," said Melanie Clark, assistant director of Leadership and Community Service programs for the Office of Student Activities.

Other uses possible for the wooded site include fitness trails, camping sites and other outdoor activities and instruction.

outdoor ed centerChancellor Meadors praised all involved for their teamwork.

"Any project that happens has to have people who take the lead," he said. "This is a wonderful addition to campus."

Contractor Alpine Towers is headquartered in Jonas Ridge, N.C., and is a world leader in building, training and maintaining outdoor programs like this one.

The shorter challenge initiatives include a "trust fall" and a 12-foot obstacle wall.