Ropes course aims to increase spirit

Students and faculty can now put their teamwork skills to the test on a low ropes course inaugurated last week at the Mount Vernon Campus.

Tim Miller, director of Student Activities Center, and Jeremiah Davis, director of GW Trails, came up with the idea for a ropes course on campus after a staff retreat to Virginia. Fred Siegel, dean of freshmen and administrator of the Foxhall campus, approved the proposal.

In spring 2004, Davis said he discussed the construction of the project with Elements to Excellence, the operator of a similar but larger outdoor course. After construction was completed last fall, students were able to take a low ropes class through the Department of Exercise Science this spring.

“I hope that GW students, faculty and staff will learn, use the course and challenge themselves,” said Davis at Friday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. “No matter what you do in life, don’t be afraid to take risks.”

“We are pleased about the new addition to the Mount Vernon campus,” said Robert Snyder, director of Mount Vernon Campus Life, which was involved in the implementation of the project. “It shows that Mount Vernon Life is a real part of GW.”

The GW SUMMIT, which is the name of the course, features 11 elements, and the title of each activity is related to GW. Each section focuses on teamwork: Mount SUMMIT requires team members to get up and over a 12-foot wall, while GW Falls builds trust among the participants, who must catch falling members.

“This ropes course is a great thing,” said Jessy Rosenberg, student activities coordinator for Mount Vernon Campus Life and a co-teacher of introduction to low ropes facilitation. “Student organizations use it so that they get to know each other and perform problem solving in a different setting.”

“I met a lot of new people through this class and they have really helped me through a lot of the challenges,” said Andrew Lewis, a sophomore taking the low ropes class this spring.

Student groups can use the course for free, while GW departments and offices must pay an hourly fee $15 per 15 people to navigate the ropes.

Davis said he hopes the facility will be opened up to people outside GW wishing to use the course. He added that he recently received a call from D.C. Public Schools officials expressing interest in getting involved with the project.

“We want to get the SUMMIT established for GW as a first priority, and then we will present it to the greater community,” Rosenberg said.

In addition to opportunities for outside individuals, Davis said there will be employment openings for students wishing to operate the course. Over winter break, 10 SAC staff members were certified to lead people through the activities.

“We hope to certify students so that they can earn money as a part time job,” Davis said.

Information about the GW SUMMIT, along with reservations, can be found at the Mount Vernon Campus Life Web site at http://gwired.gwu.edu/mvd/SUMMIT.

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