Challenge Course



Social Emotional Education

-Challenge Course- 

            What comes to mind when you think “Challenge Course”? A lot of folks may begin to envision American Ninja Warrior style obstacles, games/puzzles taking place in the outdoors or zip lines and giant swings. While a Challenge Course does incorporate certain aspects of obstacle courses, adventure parks, and guided tours, the main focus and purpose behind Challenge Course work isn’t necessarily the physical challenges of the obstacles we create. The obstacles are developed and implemented in order to get to the heart of what any good Challenge Course facilitator is aiming for; social and emotional growth in their participants.

Social/Emotional learning is defined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning as, “the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”

With this definition as a guiding philosophy, Challenge Course facilitators lead groups of 12 – 14 participants though a series of activities designed to focus on aspects of a group’s specific learning needs. If a facilitator is noticing that students are not communicating effectively, they will take the group to an element designed to focus on communication. If they struggle with working together as a unit, the facilitator would then take them to an element that requires them to function as a team in order to be successful. In this way, a session on the course is designed and run with the groups social and emotional learning needs as the guiding factor.

While a Challenge Course facilitator is responsible for choosing the right sequence of events, they are also in charge of setting up each event in a way that maximizes physical/mental/emotional safety, the learning needs of the group as a whole (while also considering the learning needs of those individuals that make up the group), and framing events in ways which steer the students towards meaningful discussions.  

A Challenge Course is a wonderful way to engage students in new methods of education outside of traditional classroom curriculum. This alternative social/emotional learning model provides students with the tools they need to engage in positive relationships with their peers while also helping them navigate the process of learning who they are as people.  It provides a unique opportunity for students to learn more, not only about themselves as individuals, but also about their place in society and the world.

Success, failure, adventure, risk-taking and uncertainty may all be part of the experience, since the outcome is never totally predictable.

Most groups and individuals experience a combination of the following benefits:

  • Team-building

  • Personal growth

  • Stronger communication skills

  • Enhanced self-esteem and confidence

  • Increased trust between group members

  • Fun!


At the Cispus Challenge Course, facilitators lead groups of 12 (max) participants through a series of events designed to focus on that particular group’s goals or needs. If you need help designing an experience, here are our popular programs:

  • Low Course Experience: Our low course consists of a large assortment of portable initiatives and 36 elements that range from anything on the ground to events as high as 12 feet off the ground. This option is great for any group working on team-building, trust, communication, and hoping for a fun experience.

  • High Course Experience: Our high course consists of 4 elements, anywhere from 10-40 ft. off the ground and a zip line. This option is more focused on the individual doing the event but many groups realize they use the same skills they needed on the Low course.

  • Zip line Experience: We offer groups to use our zip line if they are looking for a quick and fun individual experience.

  • Traveling Ropes Experience: If travel is an issue, we are willing to bring our course to you. Our traveling program consists of the same portable elements found on the Low course. We can complete these outside/inside, rain/sunshine, large areas/classrooms.


Half day = 3 hours, typically 9am to 12pm OR 1pm to 4pm

Full day = 6 hours, typically 9am to 12pm AND 1pm to 4pm

Times may be adjusted per request


NEXT TRAININGS: Low Ropes Training - March 22nd - 24th

The Cispus Learning Center provides group facilitator training for individuals interested in working with groups on the Cispus and Chewelah Peak challenge courses. Facilitation is a lifelong learning process. This training could also serve for or enhance the knowledge of previously trained facilitators. 


This training is experiential in nature and will consist of learning adventure philosophy and course initiatives through doing them. The training will be high energy and fast paced and will flow between physical activity, reflection, group processing, and discussions. Topics covered include: philosophy of challenge courses, group assessment, safety consciousness, social play, trust activities, spotting, group initiatives, facilitation theory, framing skills, risk management, and processing skills. 

Benefits include:

  • 30 clock hours per request

  • "per person" fee waived for challenge course (low) use

  • An experience you can apply in many different environments, both professional and personal.


This training covers high course facilitation including required knots, participants rescues, and technical skills. This training is experiential in nature and very physically demanding. Individuals participating in the training must already be certified in low course facilitation. 

Benefits include:

  • 50% "per person" fee discount for challenge course (high) use

  • Learn industry standards of challenge course technology

  • Leave with a greater confidence in facilitation and belay skills


Price includes all meals and lodging during training

Low Course Training........$300.00

High Course Training.......$250.00


Contact Challenge Course Manager Woods Stonecypher   -   (360) 497-7131