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Students hang on to new confidence

Lisa Marsh

Screams of fear and triumph accompanied with clapping reverberated Tuesday through the forest.

South Tahoe Middle School students faced their fears while experimenting with teamwork on a ropes course designed by Tahoe Adventure Learning.

“I’m pretty independent, so it teaches me to work well with others and to trust,” eighth-grader Earlenne Huntsman said.



Tahoe Adventure Learning is an outreach program of the Tahoe Unified School District, offering indoor and outdoor programs for team building and individual growth.

The ropes course consists of low elements focusing on teamwork, and high elements that work with individual challenges. The “Leap of Faith” is a 45-foot platform with a trapeze about 6 feet away. Many of the students found a fear of heights was something they had to face.



“You gotta get your confidence, take a deep breath and jump,” eighth-grader Nick Lefteroff said. “It felt good because I got over myself.”

One of the low courses has a rope that swings about 10 feet across a clearing to a set of tires. The object is to get your team across and into the tires, without touching the ground. Teams had to figure out how to get the rope that was hanging out of reach and hold onto each other to make sure everyone could get across.

“This is better than staying inside in a classroom. It’s more exciting,” eighth-grader Stephanie Flood said.

Director Sue Pritchett retired from the classroom to be involved with the project. Originally, at-risk or high-risk students were the focus for the program. But the response has been so favorable, it is being offered to students and teachers as well as the public.

“It gives awareness of what their capabilities are,” Pritchett said. “And it gives them a chance to take risks in a safe setting.”

Tahoe Adventure Learning is still looking for help constructing the course. Goals include a winter course, as well as full handicap accessibility. California Conservation Corps, Tahoe Conservancy and AmeriCorps are some of the organizations who have donated time and effort to the construction of the trails and courses.

According to Pritchett, many people are capable of completing the course. Safety is of utmost importance, and no one is made to participate in any activity they find uncomfortable. Moving through the fear is a powerful way to affirm oneself.

“It is such a joy to see a group metamorphosis through this,” Pritchett added.

To find out more about courses for groups, families or individuals call Sue Pritchett at 577-8214.


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