By Antwoine Johnson, AALEAD Staff
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD Staff
Last Thursday, during Montgomery County’s spring break, the AALEAD High School Program youth from MD and DC took to the grounds of the University of Maryland, College Park to tackle the Ropes Challenge Course.
Students come from different schools (and states!) and do not get to see each other regularly. Spring break was a time for our youth to come together and to have an awesome family reunion. Like with all reunions, there are some old faces and and new additions to the family. We had Blair and Einstein HS students, and our new youth from Wheaton and DC Programs. These relationships were further strengthened and solidified by the ropes course. The goal of the ropes course was to build stronger bonds through teamwork and trust while fostering individual growth through the physical and mental demands of the course.
First, the facilitators had us pair off, one person as a perch and the other person as a bird. It was an ongoing game throughout the day where, if the facilitators said, “FIND YOUR PERCH” the bird would have to piggy back the perch. If you were the last person to find your perch, you had to introduce yourself to the group. Once you were out, you had to play “defense” and force another group to be last. It was quite fun!
We had other icebreakers that were both fun and physical. One game forced AALEAD students to stand in a circle with pool noodles and a person in the center. The person in the center had to share something they liked. If a person on the outside shared the same interest they had to go into the circle, grab a noodle, and gently hit other people with the pool noodle that shared the same interest in the circle. We had a few rounds of this game. It was exhilarating and kept everyone on their toes.
Next was the tight rope exercise, which was very challenging. We were separated into “birds” and “perches”, and each group had to start on opposite side of the tight rope. The task for the group was to meet in the center while being connected to another person at all times. It was accomplished, but not easily.
All of the team-building exercises taught the importance of trust, communication, and encouragement. We had to rely on each other to accomplish the task at hand. At the end of the day, students overcame fears, broke down some social barriers, and it was very nice to see AALEAD students come together as a family to get things done.
It was a wonderful field trip! Special shout out to the professional and caring staff at the University of Maryland, College Park Challenge Course!