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I love Bethel because of the community of friends that we have here.
— Claire Unruh ’12

Discovery Adventure Course

If you’ve ever done an adventure course—sometimes called a ropes course or challenge course—you know that not only are they fun, the experience can help build individual self-confidence and group cohesion.

Adventure education, like that provided through Bethel’s Discovery Adventure Course, creates a fun environment of engagement that results in experiences unique and relevant to individuals and groups. Bethel’s Discovery Adventure Course elements and trained facilitators create activities and processes for these kinds of experiences for Bethel athletic teams as well as leadership groups, residence hall groups, clubs and all kinds of student groups.

What’s an adventure course?

All three terms—adventure course, ropes course or challenge course—refer to a collection of physical activities, or “elements,” built outdoors—among trees or with poles—or indoors. An adventure course allows you to engage in activities with enough risk to challenge you physically, socially, emotionally and intellectually.

“Low elements” are close to or on the ground, while “high” ones are much higher above the ground. At Discovery Adventure Course, your experience can include low elements along with a variety of challenging and fun field activities, games, riddles and ice-breakers.

An adventure course challenges you to assert your individual strengths and to come together with others to work as a team to develop and implement solutions. Each adventure course element emphasizes different characteristics such as self-confidence, communication, cooperation and trust.

As groups work through adventure course elements, they learn about themselves and their relationships to others and develop leadership and problem-solving skills. Your experience at Discovery Adventure Course will be tailored to your group needs and goals.

About Discovery Adventure Course

The primary purpose of Discovery Adventure Course at Bethel College is to engage you in learning and self-development, through experiential education opportunities that facilitate an increased understanding of yourself and your environment and enhance your abilities to build and sustain healthy relationships.

Anticipated participant benefits

  • Broadened understanding of the world beyond the classroom
  • Improved application of effective communication skills
  • Increased experience with decision-making and effective problem-solving
  • Increased experience in diverse communities
  • Improved self-efficacy (a fancy word that means your belief in your ability to succeed in a particular situation)
  • Character development
  • Healthy relationships

Demonstrated Effectiveness

Research demonstrates numerous benefits from experiential education. Multiple studies demonstrate increased self-efficacy, a powerful predictor of the following improved outcomes:

  • Goal-setting
  • Academic achievement
  • Sports performance

Experiential education has also shown positive impact on the following:

  • Problem-solving
  • Perceptions of environment
  • Perceived stress levels
  • Self-concept
  • Perceived team performance
  • Behavior
  • Self-esteem

Physical design

Discovery Adventure Course at Bethel College was erected through a “facilitated build” process with the guidance, instruction and technical training of Tom Leahy of Leahy & Associates, Inc., Lafayette, Colo. Bethel College students, faculty, staff and coaches helped prepare the element areas. Community volunteers, coaches, Student Life staff, Bethel maintenance employees and Newton-USD 373 staff participated in the facilitated build and related training during a three-day period in January 2010.

Discovery Adventure Course has more than 16 physical elements in wooded areas on the Bethel College campus. Each element involves different levels of risk.

The challenges involved can be dangerous. Discovery Adventure Course has trained Bethel College facilitators who will instruct you in strategies to keep yourself and others safe. However, the ultimate responsibility lies with you as the individual taking the risks to decide which choices are best for you. You are encouraged to consider the risk (and excitement) of the challenges you face, and to make a decision you feel is safe. Discussion about this “participation by choice” will be a key part of your group experience of Discovery Adventure Course.

Discovery Adventure Course location

Discovery Adventure Course is located in beautiful and secluded wooded areas on the Bethel College campus. Many of the physical elements can be found along the sidewalk and wood chipped portions of Sand Creek Trail, just east and west of Memorial Grove. There is also a collection of physical elements along the hedgerow north and east of Goering Hall.