Campus News

Outdoor teams challenge course opens

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Part of UGA's outdoor teams challenge course includes a section where participants move along a single high line while holding hands and ropes to stay balanced.

More than 100 people felt the wind rush by as they flew 300 feet through the air during the March 20 opening of UGA’s outdoor teams challenge course and zip lines. Along with testing out the two zip lines, participants had the chance to examine the course located at the Lake Herrick Recreational Sports Complex in Oconee Forest Park.

The new teams challenge course adds to UGA Outdoor Recreation’s existing offerings, which include a low challenge course program and indoor challenge course in the Ramsey Student Center. Outdoor Recreation is part of the Department of Recreational Sports in the Division of Student Affairs.

“This new course is very different from our former outdoor course, which was more focused on individuals,” said Susan Powell, coordinator for Outdoor Recreation. “Now people are having to work together to solve a goal or meet a challenge while up high.”

The outdoor teams challenge course, which has been in the works for more than a year, includes a giant swing, rope ladders and unconventional bridges. The new course also offers a staircase and platform so that it can be more inclusive to those with a fear of heights.
Open to UGA and non-UGA groups, the course aims to improve participants’ communication, trust and teamwork.

“Any time a group comes out, we contact them and see what they want to get out of their experience and then cater the activities based on their goals,” Powell said.

Meaghan Nappo, coordinator for the Freshman College Summer Experience, said that challenge courses are required for students in the program.

“We use the opportunity for confidence building and team building,” she said.

Nappo said the Freshman College Summer Experience has been using challenge courses since 2000, with good feedback from the students.

“I was surprised by just how many people really took away a positive experience from the course,” she said. “They leave with a sense of confidence and pride. Also, a lot of them don’t know anybody when they come to Freshman College, so the course is a chance for them to get to know the students in a way that they wouldn’t on a bus or in a classroom.”

While campus groups are the “bread and butter,” Powell said that several nonprofits or corporate groups also use the challenge courses. Pricing and information on using a challenge course are at

“This new course really bumps us up to the next level,” Powell said. “We can provide so many types of services that we couldn’t provide before.”

Powell said the plan is to continue building the challenge program’s success.

“My goal is to really increase the number of participants, but also increase the quality of the experiences,” she said. “Our motto at the challenge course is ‘Lead with conviction, follow with dedication and fly with confidence.’ I think trying to get more people in that mindset is important.”