This year we have a new ropes course. It works on what’s called a SmartSnap system. We teach the kids how to use it while they’re on the ground and then it allows the kids to move through the elements on their own with little assistance. Whereas beforehand we had to have two staff belaying one kid. Now we can have twelve campers at a time on the course moving through different elements and choosing their own path through them. 

There are ten different elements such as log bridges and tire swings that are elevated 15-30 feet in the air, where the campers can take a leap of faith from the top. So that’s been really successful this year in teaching the kids and giving them the freedom to move through at their own pace on a challenge path of their choosing. And we can just have a lot more campers actively doing things instead of waiting to belay them up.

They put up a brand new rock climbing wall. It’s three-sided where two sides have handholds and the third side is like a Soolam Yaakov (Jacob’s ladder), or a challenge course. We usually reserve for the older eidot (grades). We also keep a board with the record completion times for added challenge and fun.

On the rock walls there are also auto-belays so they can climb up the walls themselves. We can hook up four kids at one time and monitor them while they climb up and down, so the kids can be active for the entire time block if they want. And then of course we still have some of the features from the previous ropes course like the zip-line, flying squirrel, etc.

Additionally, this is the third year we’re running the biking program. We have Trek-Marlin bikes, really high quality bikes that were donated by Wildside Action Sports of Baraboo, Wisconsin. We’ve been developing the biking program over the last couple of years. This year Mark Kelln, the other Head of Outdoor Education is leading the development of that program. There are really great forested trails used for snowmobiling in the winter that we use for different routes of long trail riding in the summer. We are also continuously developing a skills challenge bike park for teach more advanced biking skills outside of riding such as jumps, berms, skinnies, and so on. Very exciting stuff going on in outdoor education this summer and beyond.

-Yonah Fisch, Head of Outdoor Education