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  • Writer's pictureKara Chatham

The Strange and Wonderful


Yesterday, I completed my yearly ropes course. I have had to participate in at least one low ropes course for the last two, three years. In my staff’s eyes – more specifically my boss’s eyes – I am kind of a pro at this. I kind of have a love-hate relationship with the ropes course. I somewhat dread doing it every year because I know what it’s meant to be about, but at the same time that is one of the reasons why I love them. It’s an opportunity to build your teams because you have to learn how to communicate and it tends to show you things about yourself that you may or may not have known before.

Something that was missing from yesterday’s rope course experience that I have had at every other ropes course I have ever participated in was something called the “strange and wonderful”. What is the “strange and wonderful”? It is the things that in reality are kind of bad because it does not help you at all in completing the task at whatever part of the course you are at. Some examples: last year when I was doing a course with my summer camp staff, I had to hold my nose when I spoke. It was meant to make it a bit more difficult to understand me. The reality was that it just made it really difficult for me to breathe when I was done.

When I did a course with my RA staff last year (we did it at a different location than the one we were at this year), the “strange and wonderful” typically had to do with telling the guys to be quiet and allowing the girls to talk. It broke my heart a little bit that there was nothing strange and wonderful about my experience on the ropes course yesterday. The only thing that they did when we messed up was made us start all the way over. It didn’t make the course very challenging.

Why I like the “strange and wonderful” aspect of the ropes course is because it helps build that communication. It is typically something that adds complications to the communication. Either changing the way that you talk or not allowing certain people to talk. It all adds to the challenge of the course. It also allows those who may not have considered speaking up before to have a chance to speak up.

Another thing that the “strange and wonderful” is that it challenges you to look at bad things in a new light. Most of the time we view things that hinder us from doing whatever it is that we are trying to do as a negative thing. Technically these things are negative because they are the obstacles that are making it more difficult to complete the task at hand. Because they are called the “strange and wonderful” things that happen, they do not sound quite as bad as when we refer to them as “bad things”. What if we started referring to the obstacles that we meet in life as the strange and wonderful things of life? I think that people’s perspectives would change on how they looked at them. Yes, the “strange and wonderful” of the ropes course tend to be a bit more amusing because of the context and the actual obstacles themselves, but that doesn’t mean that our life obstacles couldn’t be that way too.

Until next time… Kara


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