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Creating a higher level of team building

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Creating a higher level of team building

Rylee Smith

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Think about the other members of your student organization, or your coworkers. Are you ready to trust them at a height of 32 feet?

The new Student Recreation Center Challenge Course is coming, so soon you’ll have a chance to find out.

CSU Bakersfield is in the process of building a new rope challenge course, where student groups or teams, nonprofits, local businesses, and other local groups can work on team-building exercises in a physically active environment. The development process has been going on for about three and a half years now, with Outdoor Adventures Coordinator Marshall McArthur leading the planning.

This is not the first time that CSUB has had a program for developing teamwork while tackling physical challenges. The Challenge Program has been around since McArthur’s arrival at the university, using portable equipment while the team waited for the official course to be built.

Some of the makeup of the course is being kept confidential, since the exercises are not as effective if teams know what they will be doing beforehand.

“We don’t want people to know everything,” McArthur says.

However, there will be two levels of height, with the lower level set at 20 feet above the ground, and the higher level at 35 feet. Activities will include various options for exiting the course, such as belaying down from the top and a “quick jump” option, where participants are clipped into a harness and jump off of the platform.

Although challenge is in the name, and therefore participants are encouraged to try new things, McArthur says that all of the activities are completely voluntary.

“We call it a challenge by choice. We’re not gonna force people. We want people to try the challenges, and we want them to be in an environment that’s emotionally and psychologically safe,” he says.

The course will be finished with construction and employee training in February, with plans to open soon afterward. However, it will not open until the team is sure that all facilitators are ready to provide a quality experience, says McArthur.

Costs factored in include the facility itself, fencing, sidewalk, and other practical considerations.

“When all is said and done,” says Mary O’Mahoney, director of the SRC, “It adds up to about $600,000. This came from student fees in the SRC reserves.”

Unlike other features of the SRC, the Challenge Course is not specifically for CSUB students, though students are encouraged to enjoy it. Instead, it is available to the CSUB community and Bakersfield community alike. Groups must have a minimum of eight people. A two and half hour program costs $80 for the entire group, with an additional $10 per person over eight.

Asna Rupano, a student manager on duty at the SRC, says that SRC employees are looking forward to trying the course together.

“It’s gonna be great because there’s been no physical place for team building for student groups. We didn’t have anything within arms reach. Now I think [the course] will be a good way to make sure students have a positive experience on campus.”

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