Groups invite WKU students to take on the challenge course at open house

Hannah Shaffer

The staff of the WKU Challenge Course is trying to overcome one of their own biggest obstacles this weekend; making sure people know it exists.

Students and the community are encouraged to attend the open house this weekend in order to become informed on what it has to offer.

According to the Challenge Course website, “The WKU Challenge Course provides a safe, fun and nurturing environment for the WKU campus and surrounding community by delivering experiences that provide a sense of accomplishment and develop leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills for individuals and groups.”

The course was originally opened in August 2008. Located less than five miles from main campus, at the University Farm, many students do not know that the course exists unless they have taken one of the classes that visit the course.

Louisville junior Rebecca Woodburn first learned about the course when she was enrolled in REC235, or “Recreation Activities,” during the fall semester of her sophomore year. The class, which involves camping and canoeing, took Woodburn and her classmates to the challenge course four times throughout the semester.

“It’s not just about climbing,” Woodburn said. “That’s a big part of it, but the challenge course’s main objective is to build positive group dynamics, to learn about team work and to challenge yourself.”

Katie Hecker, a graduate assistant with the Office of Intramural Recreational Sports has also been developing an open house program for the course.

“I have three main goals for the open house,” Hecker said. “First, I want to increase exposure for the challenge course and get people to know it’s out there on WKU Ag Farm, we have it available to not just campus groups but the community as a whole.”

Hecker said there are many people who come to the course who say, “I didn’t even know this was here,” which she hopes will become less common. Because many people don’t know the course exists, they don’t really know what to expect when they hear that it is a challenge course.

“Goal number two is to just get people up on the zip-line and give them a little bit of a taste of what we do,” Hecker said. “Zip-lining is an option and we are going to do a lot of walking tours of the facility to showcase what we do.”

Hecker’s final goal is to persuade groups to go to the challenge course for trainings and team building exercises.

“Whether it’s school groups, community groups, corporate groups or whoever, we want them to come out and enjoy the value that the course has to offer,” Hecker said.

Hecker estimated it would take about half-an-hour from the time a person steps out of their car to reach the bottom of the zip-line. Normally, a group would need to reserve the course for either a half-day or a whole day to have access.

Lucas Bartlett, assistant director of programs for the Office of Intramural Recreational Sports, said that he too hopes that people will come out .

“We want to get people out to the course to see it and to see the things we do because we have fun with it,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett said the event will be laid back and fun.

“It’s not a big, formal thing,” Bartlett said. “If you want to come out there, our staff will be there to answer any questions you might have.”

The open house is on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on Sunday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The free event is open to anyone age 12 or older, though children age 12 to 17 need to be with a parent or guardian who can sign a waver if they plan to take advantage of the free zip-line opportunity.