Climbing For A Challenge

Alison Counterman, Reporter

A rock climbing wall behind Mangelsdorf Field is the newest addition to campus.

Student Outdoor Recreation and Activities (SOAR) introduced the attraction one month ago.

Patrick McKamy, Assistant Coordinator of Student Activities, said the wall is a replacement for a similar attraction displaced by campus construction.

“Campus had a low-challenge course,” said McKamy. “With campus expansion, the new baseball field took over the challenge course.”

Since loss of the original course in 2010, Vice President of Mission Integration Sister Jean Messaros, Director of Student Activities Darcy Brodmerkel and Interim Vice President of Student Affairs Kathleen Foley had been pushing for a new challenge course.

“We went through a series of grants, proposals and finally got the funding needed, thanks to Kit, Sister Jean and Darcy, as well as Eric Nelson and Mark Vanetten,” said McKamy.

Students now can enjoy both low-challenge and high-challenge courses and also a zip-line.

These courses are “for the benefit of the students,” according to McKamy, but faculty and staff can also participate.

Open climbs are held on alter- nating Mondays and Thursdays, and students can obtain a full list of times in the Student Activities Office or online.

Open climbs for both students and family will be held on Parent’s Weekend, Sept. 14, and homecoming weekend, Oct. 5.

“When the course is open, participants can walk back [behind Mangelsdorf Field] to get checked in and set up to use the climbing section,” said McKamy.

A donation is requested for use of the courses, and all money raised will be directed to different charity each week.

Students, faculty and staff do not need any experience to try out the wall and get rockin’.

“It’s all entry-level,” said McKamy, “It’s all about challenge, by choice. Everyone tries it at their own ability and everyone is happy with any point they get to.”

There are many benefits to having a rock climbing wall on campus for both individuals and groups, according to McKamy.

McKamy said the sport provides benefits. “Groups and individuals will discover several different goals – trust, team-building, leadership, as well as internal goals such as confidence-building and communication skills.”

“We’re hoping to encourage groups on and off campus to utilize the course to gain both substantial internal and group-wise benefits from use,” said McKamy.

He added that the campus may offer more activities that build students’ soft skills.

“A lot of us feel positive about the course as well as looking forward to the future of team- building and working toward individual goals and objectives,” said McKamy.

Trained facilitators will be on- site to assist participants, and students are needed to fill those positions, but McKamy said the activity can be dangerous if climbers are not prepared.

Students may use the courses only when qualified supervision is available and present.

Improper use of the courses will result in disciplinary action.

McKamy believes that the rock climbing wall is “going very well, and it is going to be a great addition to campus,” and some students like sophomore healthcare management major Lauren Malick enjoyed her first time. “I thought it was fun,” she said “I’m actually thinking of doing the open climb.”

Malick said when she participated in the climb during orientation training it really helped build leadership skills for everyone.

“The rock wall did a lot of team building for everybody,” said Malick. “Members of your team would help instruct you through if they saw you were stuck or giving up, just to get you to the top.”

She said she felt accomplished when she completed the course.

“People were nervous at first but with encouragement from fellow orientation leaders, they climbed further then they thought they would be able to,” said Malick.

I didn’t think I would make it all of the way to the top but I saw other people get there but I saw other people get there so I pushed myself,” said Malick “It was a rewarding feeling when I got to the top.”

With facilitators on site, she said participants felt safe.

“I wouldn’t want to do it without supervision,” she said. “You feel on your own, but it was comforting knowing that if I got tired, discouraged or wanted to give up, there was someone trained at the bottom holding the other end of my rope.”

Students who have already participated say that this is a great opportunity to get involved in.

“I’m really glad I had the opportunity to try it and want to take advantage of the open climbs,” said Malick. “The best part was forming bonds with the people you were climbing with because of their continuous encouragement.”

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