Whether you want to build morale or get your employees to work together with a new understanding of teamwork and camaraderie, experiential learning has the potential to transform your office. These programs get your team out of the workplace and into an unfamiliar setting to challenge them to work together to solve problems. It’s a whole new way of thinking about professional development because it gets at the heart of the human experience by asking your coworkers to understand themselves and their peers — and then to use that insight to solve problems, discover strengths and weaknesses and take new interpersonal skills back into the workplace to apply them to your business. Done properly, team-building on a challenge course can be a turning point in your workplace.

Challenge Courses: An Overview

In general, a challenge course is like an obstacle course for adults — but one that comes with more than just physical fitness benefits. A challenge course is typically a physical challenge to complete, and these challenges often require teamwork to reach a goal. Challenge courses often have elements of difficulty that may cause some participants to feel fearful. For example, a high ropes course may feel particularly fraught for people who are afraid of heights. In a well-run challenge course, instructors will coach participants through their fears and encourage teamwork that leads to all members successfully working through the task at hand.

Challenge courses are varied, though many contain adventurous elements such as a ropes course, zip line and other physical tasks like climbing walls, hiking, rescue scenarios and more.  Challenge courses may be set up in indoor or outdoor environments.

Ropes courses are some of the most popular choices for team building, in part because the average person has never tried one before. This allows all members of your team to face something new and unknown together. Low ropes courses are on or just slightly above ground level, often consisting of activities like climbing a rope net, navigating a maze and helping partners through obstacles together. High ropes courses are farther off the ground and require participants to learn basic belaying techniques to use their safety harnesses properly. These courses encourage participants to build trust in each other and face their fears to tackle something new.

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Goals and Objectives of Challenge Courses

Whether you choose high ropes, low ropes or something else entirely, a good challenge course program is about more than just learning to climb or having fun outside. Each course will have established goals and objectives for participants. For example, nearly all courses require some form of teamwork, and the challenges are not considered “complete” until all members have done their part. Some courses emphasize trust building, while others may be geared toward honing problem-solving skills, defining team roles determining personal strengths and weaknesses, or understanding what makes each other tick.

To meet these objectives, your team will work with a trained instructor who not only teaches the physical skills needed for the challenge course but also helps participants work through problem-solving and interpersonal relationships. Good programs will also provide time and guidance for reflection after the activity and offer help in putting lessons to good use back in the workplace.

To choose the right challenge course for your employees, be sure to read and understand the objective and goals when researching different options. This will allow you to pick a course that’s in line with your expectations and that has a curriculum that will give your team what they most need out of their professional development.

Benefits of Participating in a Challenge Course

There are many benefits that come from participating in a challenge course. Specific outcomes will vary based on the type of course you choose and the curriculum provided by the course leaders, but you can expect the following from any good course:

  • Personal Growth: Dealing with a fear of heights, learning a new skill and pushing one’s body to try something totally new are all important results of a challenge course. On an individual basis, participants will emerge from the activity with a sense of pride in pushing their limits and satisfaction at completing a difficult task.
  • Team Building: Solving problems and puzzles together on the challenge course will foster new levels of trust and camaraderie among your staff. They’ll also have a chance to learn about each other’s strengths while interacting in a new way, all of which will help them form stronger bonds to take back to work in the future.
  • Therapeutic Benefits: Physical exercise and the benefits of being outdoors are good for both body and mind. Reducing stress levels and taking time to step away from the daily grind at the office can help boost morale and allow workers to connect to each other and to your company in refreshing, healthy ways.

Ready to plan your perfect professional development day with the right challenge courses? Learn more about different programs by searching through options designed for professional development or by reading more about adventure and wilderness programs near you today.