By Brandon Thilges
The belay team was ready. The climber, with their legs shaking and their palms sweaty, was ready. The contract was started, and in just 15 seconds, the climber was away. Quickly they conquered the wall and reached the top. Then, within just another 15 seconds, the climber was on the ground, relieved for they had done what they thought impossible and they were proud.
Build your skills and work as a team. This is the core tenet of the Adventure Education program at Batavia High School.
The program has existed for several years at BHS and it has trained students in character development and teamwork. The program itself is a term long and it consists of seven separate stages. The beginning stages are based on teamwork, communication, and trust. These stages last for about half of the term, and in that time, the class, who at the beginning may have been total strangers, turn into one coherent team that works well together and trusts each other. These attributes come in handy in the second half of the class which dives into its hard skills. The second half of the class is divided into five rope courses. These include the rock wall, the pamper pole, the flying squirrel, jacob’s ladder, and finally the crate climb. Each of these rope courses requires intricate teamwork and communication, because, for the most part, the students are relying on their classmates to stay safe.
The program is a student favorite for many for two reasons. The first, and most obvious, is that it is quite easy because it is not fitness based. The second, and most true, is that it builds a tight-knit team within the class. When the class starts, its students may have never met each other, and by its end, the students will be a tight group of friends that can rely on one another in many ways.
“Adventure Ed is easily one of my favorite classes,” said Joshua Irvine, a student currently taking the program. “One of the things I enjoy about the class is that you’re always given the opportunity to challenge yourself.”
Of the many years that this program has existed at BHS, there has been a general consensus that the Adventure Education is truly a great class.
Nevertheless, the program has changed beyond recognition over the years that it has existed at BHS.
“The program started out as a character development class focusing on the first five stages of adventure ed with a couple stand-alone rope course events,” said Ryan Farwell, the teacher of the Adventure Education Program at BHS. “After three years and two grants awarded by Batavia Foundation for Educational Excellence, we now have a full seven stages of Adventure Education Program with a seven-route rock wall and four standalone rope course events.”
However, like all other things, there is room for improvement.
“I hope in the future we are able to add some outdoor pursuits where we could do activities like canoeing, hiking, orienteering, and outdoor rock climbing,” Farwell said.
In order to teach Adventure Education, many hours of instruction are required.
“To teach or facilitate an adventure education group or class you must complete a Level 1 certification which includes 40 plus hours of training, passing a written test and a skills test,” Farwell said. “With a level 1 certification, you have to recertify every year completing a short training on the updated standards, a written test, and a skill test.”
Although Adventure Education is not the most popular gym class at BHS, the ones who do take it are never disappointed. It is also evident that the Adventure Education program teacher truly enjoys the class as well.
“I think the class allows students a different option for PE,” Farwell said. “The class allows students to work in different size groups, plan, problem solve, take individual risks, learn the skills needed to belay and rock climb.”
Overall, the Adventure Education Program at BHS is one of a kind, because it is truly different from any class offered at BHS, whether it is gym related or not. It is for these many reasons that the Adventure Education Program at BHS is one of the best.