Recreation, Parks and Tourism 441

RCPT 441: Advanced Ropes Course Programming

Prerequisite: RCPT 421 or by permission of instructor

Credit Hours: (3) Three hours lecture/laboratory

Students will practice advanced facilitation, leadership, technical and safety skills essential to ropes course programming. A five-day training workshop and fifteen (15) hours of service learning are required components of the course.


Detailed Description of Content of the Course

This course serves as the vehicle to implement safe and effective RU-ABLE (Radford University Adventure Based Learning Experience) ropes course programs. Advanced technical and facilitation skills will be taught, including rescues, sequencing, and leadership styles. Additional emphases will be placed on lead facilitator responsibilities, the full value contract and debriefing/processing the adventure experience.

Course Content Includes:

Development of Advanced Facilitation Skills

  • Small group theory
  • Small group management techniques
  • Application of the experiential learning cycle
  • Advanced processing techniques
  • Goal and objective assessment
  • Program sequencing for special needs groups
  • Program design based on pre-program assessment procedures

Development of Advanced Technical Skills

  • Rescue systems
  • Anchor systems
  • Belay escapes
  • Risk management assessment
  • Advanced rope systems
  • Course inspection procedures and minor repairs
  • Managing groups in emergency situations


Detailed Description of Conduct of the Course

The course is intensive and heavily experiential in nature. Students have ample opportunity to experiment with and practice a variety of advanced technical and facilitation skills. A “community of learners” approach characterizes the course. For example, students work in cooperative learning groups while they apply creative problem-solving strategies to rescue scenarios. Students also coach, teach, and supervise each other throughout the course and receive comments from group members regarding their facilitation/leadership style effectiveness. Each student will develop an action plan based upon his/her technical and facilitation skills self-assessment. The action plan is a means of setting, monitoring, and receiving support and assistance for achievement of curriculum as well as individual goals and objectives. Finally, the student is required to participate in a service learning (SL) experience. The SL requirement involves co-leading and/or leading in the implementation of ropes course programming. It may also involve the development of ropes course policies and procedures.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

Having successfully completed this course, students will be able to:

1. practice basic ropes course safety skills;
2. perform basic self-rescue, gear rescue and the rescue of other individuals on high ropes course elements;
3. evaluate current practices and standards regarding ropes course design, installation, equipment, hardware, safety inspections, and risk management.
4. experience the elements of ropes course philosophy models: the experiential learning cycle, challenge by choice, goal setting, and the full value contract.
5. practice climbing and rappelling techniques within the ropes course context.
6. develop sensory and a “critical eye” to the prevention of ropes course incidents and accidents.
7. safely and effectively plan and implement an eight-hour RU-ABLE ropes course combo program.


Assessment Measures

Assessment is based upon participation in class labs and the completion of a five-day workshop, self-assessments, demonstration of technical skills, completion of service learning, and a comprehensive exam.


Other Course Information

General Policies and Considerations

1. The safety standards and guidelines for any adventure or experiential activity used in this course have been formulated through consideration of those provided the Association for Experiential Education (AEE), and the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT).
2. All RU rules and policies apply to all class activities.
3. Specific policies/procedures appropriate to each class activity will be provided. It is essential to the supervision, safety and quality of these experiences that students adhere to all policies and procedures or rules discussed before, during, or after activities.


Review and Approval

January 2005 Reviewed by Dr. Edward Udd, Chair