View from the Top
I opted for a new view of Grade 5 Challenge Day: from the Falcon’s Roost, the launch pad for the high ropes course. In my role as director of communications at Forsyth, I am most often seen behind the camera. In pursuit of a different photographic perspective, I set my sights on the Falcon’s Roost.
>> Pictures tell the story.
Grade 5 Challenge Day. There are two routes to the Falcon’s Roost: a tube net and the rope ladder. To be honest, I was not optimistic about climbing the rope ladder. So, with Coach Stone holding the bottom of the rope ladder, harnessed up and attached to the belay that Coach Harris held, I started my ascent. It was a real challenge, but my motivation increased exponentially when the first group of fifth graders arrived and seated themselves against the wall putting me at center stage–an audience! I got my second wind and made it to the top, thanks to Coach Harris and Coach Stone. Observation: the climb up is much easier for fit 11-year-olds.
It was worth it. I have watched our challenge education program develop. At the 10-year anniversary of the Forsyth Adventure Center, we have come far, with challenge days now beginning in kindergarten, climbing units in P.E., Summer Discovery, and more. By fifth grade, Forsyth kids are comfortable with challenge and heights. Coach Harris and Coach Stone are CrossFit-certified, and every P.E. class begins with a fitness regime, so Forsyth kids are strong and capable climbers. The view from the Falcon’s Roost confirmed this in spades.
“You can do it,” is the mantra on challenge days, and frankly, with most things at Forsyth. There I was up in the Falcon’s Roost with the head motivator, Coach Harris. Forsyth teachers know the kids so well, and the banter between the kids and their teachers on challenge day demonstrates that clearly–it’s like family. Some of the fifth graders have done the high ropes so often that their self-challenge was to do the course blindfolded. For other kids, the support of their classmates and teachers enabled them to surpass last year’s achievement.
The kids love the descent from the Falcon’s Roost and the climbing wall. You just lean back and descend on your auto-belay till your feet hit the floor. Whoosh! For adults with well-honed safety sensors, dropping backward from on high in what feels like free fall runs counter to all your instincts, but it’s 100% safe. The kids say it’s the easy part. I’d say it’s an acquired taste.
At the end of challenge day, the kids reflect on their accomplishments in a journal. In 19 years at Forsyth, I have seen many things. One thing I know to be true: this is one of many unforgettable experiences at Forsyth. Forsyth kids learn early on that they can do things that are hard if they work at them. Confidence comes from competence, and challenge days are a good example of the kind of authentic challenges at Forsyth that establish a mindset for what can be accomplished – an invaluable life lesson. And so much fun! I had as much fun as the kids–it’s an exhilarating experience.
– Phoebe Ruess, Director of Communications