• Challenge Education participants
  • Challenge Education staff at the Pamper Plank
  • Challenge Education participants
  • Preparing for Challenge Education Course

Program Details

Here are detailed components of Hartwick's Challenge Programs. Each can be offered separately or together in this standard sequence.

  • Mixers are used to build commonalities and familiarity. These are get-to-know-you games and activities. Mixers include name games, interesting ways to introduce or find things out about each other, and fun activities that highlight people's backgrounds and interests. They break the ice and get people interacting. Since people work together better if they know and understand each other a bit, Mixers create the foundation of many of our programs.

  • Group problem-solving exercises, also called "initiatives", can develop skills in communication, cooperation, and planning. These activities take place on the lawn or a gym floor, and they typically involve novel equipment like hula hoops, carpet squares, or even rubber fish! The novelty helps people stay engaged and having fun while they learn to share ideas, give support, and create a collaborative plan. Group problems highlight the unique skills of each group member and the need for everyone to be involved. Many programs consist of these exercises alone - there is a wide variety.

  • Debriefs are the short discussions that occur after most activities in Challenge Education Programs. Questions usually revolve around what happened, what that means about the way the group is working together, and what can be learned from that. Debriefs are often where the "ah-ha's" occur--in hearing the opinions and perspectives of others, and exploring improvements and changes. Debriefs are what put the Education into the Challenge!

  • Low elements on the challenge course continue the development of group skills such as responsibility to the group, voicing one's needs, and honoring differences. The Low Elements are stations, or "elements," built into the forest where participants balance on cables, climb on logs or swing on ropes. The low elements range from a few inches to 12' off the ground. They require group creativity, safety skills, support, and cooperation to complete. Imagine balancing everyone on a deck that teeter-totters, or getting everyone through an "spiders web" without touching the web! For the group that is more physically active and/or more adventuresome, the Low Elements are exciting places to explore group skills. Each person finds his/her own level of involvement in each activity ("challenge by choice"). Prior to engaging with the Low Elements, a group must be trained in a set of safety skills. The Low Elements provide a safe, fun environment in which to learn to trust one another, speak up with needs, and reach goals that are both attainable and enlightening.

  • High elements on the challenge course focus on personal confidence and group support. They consist of seven stations ranging from 20 to 60' above ground, and all climbers are secured by a rope safety system called a belay. Imagine traveling from tree to tree using only a few cables to help you, or helping a friend climb a giant ladder with rungs five feet apart. The object of the High Elements is to provide a safe place for individuals to tackle fears, set personal goals and challenge themselves within the support of the group. There are many different choices here, and ample time to make those choices.