Our 2016-2017 Leadership Academy cohort reached new heights, both in their leadership abilities and in their team-working skills at the OSU Challenge Course! Students were able to challenge themselves on the ropes course, which includes various high ropes obstacles positioned 30 feet above ground and a zipline. 

The evening started off with some friendly ice breakers to help everyone remember each other’s names and to energize everyone for what the adventure had ahead. After strapping on their gear, fastening their helmets, and participating in some training exercise, they were ready to literally reach for the sky! 

One by one, inch by inch, cohort members pushed themselves to climb higher up the challenge course. Students took turns empowering one another and cheering each other on as they blazed new trails midair across the challenge course. Some students pushed themselves the extra mile by taking the “Leap of Faith,” which involves climbing up a tall wooden post, standing and balancing on the top of the post, and then leaping off and reaching out to grab a handrail. Students of all different height measurements and fear-of-heights levels took the Leap of Faith challenge and inspired all of those around them. 

Of course, no leadership activity would be complete without some time for reflection. The cohort gathered together after conquering the course and took turns sharing their takeaways from the day and offered advice, shout-outs, and shared their favorite moments of the day. Students echoed how motivating it was to see their peer’s step out of their comfort zone and how much they appreciated their peers’ support and encouragement. 

Bailey Jenks, a senior in the academy, can attest to stepping out of her comfort zone.

“When I first arrived at the Challenge Course, I was immediately nervous about how high the course was, but after watching a few of my classmates and receiving some awesome words of encouragement, I pushed myself to try the course,” said Jenks. “Turns out, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. Plus, the zipline at the end was totally worth it!” 

The challenge course proved to be an invaluable team-building experience for the cohort, taught the importance of having clear communication, and served as a great bonding experience to start the year off.

“Being a leader often involves risk-taking, being vulnerable, and stepping out of your comfort zone,” said Haley Clement, the Leadership Academy Coordinator. “The OSU Challenge Course allows students to do just that. We make a point to come here every year with Leadership Academy students. It is a great opportunity to challenge each other, build teamwork skills, and discover new things about yourself.”

Just like dangling a few stories above ground, being a leader can be a bit intimidating at times. However, with a brave step forward and some encouragement from friends, anything is possible!

Written by Lauren LaGrande