Getting a course on campus was a logistical challenge

Andrew Kicmol, Staff Writer

The challenge course is a can’t-miss visual as you drive on Anderson Street. Nestled in-between the willow trees and the marsh, the towering climbing wall and zip line are located near the Goodman Sports Complex.

The course, which was the dream of Scot Vesterdahl, the former director of fitness and intramural sports, opened a little more than a year ago. But the process of getting the challenge course built at Madison College ran into some challenges.

Originally, the course was planned to be in the canopy of the trees near the Robin Roberts baseball field, but he location was moved because the cost of building a road to the course that close to the baseball field would have been “astronomical,” said Steve Hauser, the Madison College Athletic Director.

Eventually the current location was agreed upon, and funding for the course was approved by the Student Activities Board and the college. After that, the college worked with Findorff Construction to make sure the course got cleared by the Department of Natural Resources. Once the DNR approved the course, ABEE, a firm that specializes in challenge course construction, could start building. The course was finished in September of 2015.

The finished product is what you see today. Looming obstacles with ropes and zip lines that hang high off the ground. But a challenge course is about more than just ropes and zip lines, it’s about “character and leadership development,” said Hauser.

It allows “people find their voice in a different way,” said Tracie Bowers, the recreation management program director. Recreation management has an elective class that uses the challenge course for adventure based initiatives.

The course offers a breath of fresh air as it allows students to get out of the classroom, and participate in another way while helping them with team building, “how it translates into the classroom is pretty amazing actually,” said Bowers.

Students who take the class can continue on to be certified on the challenge course and later get paid to help out.

While the course was primarily built for students, any outside group can use it. There have been a wide variety of groups that have used the course from outside companies to other school’s sports teams.

The goal for every group that uses the course is to improve team building and communication.