If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? ~1 Corinthians 12:17
This past Saturday Kyle’s youth group had a fun activity, the ropes course! What is a ropes course? I had no idea at first. Before the day began, all I knew was that Kyle signed me up to join him and the rest of the Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia youth group on their chosen outing.
Sometimes, I am just amazed how God works, even blessing us and our outing with such a pretty sunny day. Enjoying the cool bright morning drive, we headed out to Ligonier, making our way up a secluded side road just outside the town. The ropes course was held at the Ligonier Camp and Conference Center. Great! I was never there, and what are we doing again?
After meeting our counselors, Marty and Jeb, they led our group about a quarter of a mile up a hill towards the woods. Unbeknownst to everyone at the time, our real journey was about to begin.
We started off with the standard, ‘get in a circle and introduce yourself’. However, they added a fun twist. We were to introduce ourselves and tell everyone what our super power would be. I chose flying, while others chose super strength, invisibility, mind reading and such. Ok, neat idea to get everyone thinking and listening to our neighbor. Where’s the ropes course?
Next, we completed a serious of individual and small group exercises. We did the listening game of Shlaw and a fun sword game. Comical as it may seem, and it was, we ran around with one arm acting as a sword and the other hand positioned in the middle of our backs, acting as our week point to be struck with an opposing sword. Yes, we ran around in a large yard that was marked off, trying to strike each other down. This is what really cracked me up. When a person was slain, they were not permitted to just kneel down and be out of the game. O no! We had to act out a dramatic death scene, dropping to our knees. That was just getting us warmed up. There’s more!
Let’s not forget when we teamed up in groups of four and acted as a dragon, trying to get the other dragons tails, a.k.a. the handkerchief. Then, there were the teams of two. Only one person could see to guide the other. Toward what you may ask? To pick up stuffed animals and propel the soft ammunition at our opponents of course. At first, we were allowed to speak to our temporarily blinded partner in crime. That was just for practice. The second time we played, there was no talking, only reading body language. For me, I had Mikaela who is about Kyle’s age. So I basically drug her around the large grassy area and used her arms as extensions of mine.
When do the ropes course come into play? That’s what I was wondering! Not that I wasn’t having fun and learning the hidden lessons with each of these games. But I wanted to swing like Tarzan.
Then came our first group activity! Marty and Jeb borrowed a water bottle and gave us instructions to move the water bottle of its current position on the ground to Marty’s hand. Everyone was to use at least a pointer finger and a pinky finger to move the bottle together as a group. Yes all at once, all eighteen of us around a small water bottle. That certainly took teamwork, and everyone following the called out instructions from those with strategic insight. Did we do it? Yes!
Seriously, the entire time that we were working on this challenge The Wonder Pets song was playing in my head. Kyle loved that cartoon and he used to sing the theme song all the time. Indulge me for a moment…
Linny: “The phone, the phone is ringing!”
Ming-Ming: “The phone, we’ll be right there!”
Tuck: “The phone, the phone is ringing!”
Linny: “There’s an animal in trouble…”
Ming-Ming: “There’s an animal in trouble…”
Tuck: “There’s an animal in trouble somewhere!”
Tuck: “A baby [animal]
Ming-Ming: “This is se-rious!”
Tuck: “We have to help him/her”
Linny: “Let’s save the [animal]!”
Tuck and Ming-Ming or All then All: “Let’s save the [animal]!”
Ming-Ming: “And Ming-Ming, too!”
All: “We’re Wonder Pets and we’ll help you!”
Linny: “What’s gonna work?”
Tuck and Ming-Ming or All: “Teamwork!”
Linny: “What’s gonna work?”
Tuck and Ming-Ming or All: “Teamwork!”
All: “Wonder Pets! Wonder Pets! We’re on our way
To help a baby [animal] and save the day!”
Ming-Ming: “We’re not too big,”
Tuck: “And we’re not too tough,”
All: “But when we work together we’ve got the right stuff!
Go, Wonder Pets! Yay!
Naturally, at the time I couldn’t remember the entire song, but regardless, it seemed to fit our situation. Anyway, once we accomplished the first water bottle challenge, we were given the same activity only with another twist. We needed to have someone place their nose, two people add their elbows and two pinkies (I believe) on the bottle. All while EVERYONE, was touching the bottle in some way. We needed to lift our object off the ground with a nose, two elbows, two pinkies and thirteen fingers on the bottle, at the same time. Then move as a group toward our goal, Marty, to deliver the object of focus. It was a bit awkward, but we did it!
Now the ropes course? Not quite yet. We had to sit in a circle among the trees and discuss the lessons we learned with all the previously executed exercises, including the themes of strategy and teamwork. This was a way to encourage everyone to speak up and continue to be an integral part of the team. Not to mention ensuring everyone was learning the lessons taught.
We started moving toward the theme of the ropes course when Marty and Jeb were talking about safety, teamwork and strategy. Something along those lines. I was too excited for the long anticipated “ropes course”. I had already built up this grandiose idea of what we were going to do. Better yet, how I was going to fly among the trees and jump from one set of ropes to the other hundreds of feet in the air. Or climb a rope with one hand that was over fifty feet high. All of which did not happen, it was much harder than that.
After I was forced out of my dream state, I realized the time was at hand. Our team cheer was the youth group motto, Helping Hands. On the count of three we broke and headed toward our next destination.
Now the ropes course! Eighteen of us lined up standing on a log. We needed to shimmy around a bit to get our group to fit, but we managed. Then, we needed to split into two groups to tackle the course from each end. Simple enough. No! No one, not from either side was allowed to touch the ground and the adults were not allowed to talk. If we touched the ground, then everyone would have to go back to the beginning and start all over again. Did that happen? O many many times. I was the reason we started over once, jumping into the side of a tree as I lost my balance. Kyle fell at least once, not to mention all the other participants who followed our lead to the ground.
The ropes course was a serious of balance type of obstacles we needed to cross, working our way back to the starting line, the log. No one was allowed to touch the ground, and everyone had to make it back.
Along the way we realized the strengths and weaknesses of our team members. With every start, we learned more and more and realized how to adjust to make our plan work. From the very beginning, I knew I could help Kyle. It was just like we were snowboarding and I was helping him with his balance. Although, I will admit Kyle started to do pretty good on his own with each pass. In fact, at the one intersection where we had one rope to walk on and one rope to hold on to, I lost my balance and went backward, holding on for dear life. Please keep in mind we were only about four or five inches off the ground but it was the fear of touching the ground and making everyone start over. No one wants to let the team down. Kyle held his position, whereas I could have completely thrown him off balance. He used his body to project us forward allowing both us a steady passage to the tree. Nicely done buddy!
There was a lot of teamwork and “helping hands” along the way. Ultimately, since one big challenge was crossing paths with the second half of our team, we sent the shortest of the group through first, while helpers were posted along the way.
Without my help, but with the assistance and guidance of others, Kyle, along with the rest of our vertically challenged kids made it to the end. Great job guys! We nearly got everyone through, then we biffed it again and unfortunately ran out of time. I spent the majority of the exercise on the double ropes, which I think I mastered. Although the cramping in my feet and the burning in my thighs might argue the opposite.
We ended the day with another recap and a prayer before tackling our lunch. By that time everyone was mentally and physically exhausted, but in an good way. What a great idea! Asking who presented this activity to the group, Isaak raised his hand. This was a perfect way to really get to know your group and allow everyone to make a contribution to the team! I would love to do it again.
We left there feeling pretty good about ourselves. It was the teamwork and the ability to lend a helping held and accept assistance from others. God made us all differently so we will rely on one another. Simple as it may seem, that’s exactly what we did! As Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”