Archive for February, 2011

Just in time for the busy spring and summer months, Blue Ridge Assembly is excited to introduce groups to our new Low Ropes Course! The outdoor adventure facility is the most recent addition to our program lineup that is intended to strengthen the Y mission of youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.

The new course was designed and built by Blue Ridge’s own Program Field Coordinator, Andrew McKinney, and Program Leader, Wayne Hines. Both staff members have undergraduate degrees in Outdoor Recreation and have extensive professional experience with challenge course construction and facilitation. The course is ACCT certified and also authorized by local challenge-course management firm Alpine Towers International, who built and inspects our other 6 climbing structures.

The new Low Ropes Course consists of 11 elements scattered throughout an intimate wooded setting adjacent to Lake Laurel and the Camp Cousins Challenge Course.  These new elements include industry standards such as the “Spider Web”, “Whale Watch”, “Mohawk Walk”, and the “Flying Squirrel”. It also features our older Team Development Course which includes the popular “Trust V“.

The new Low Ropes Course rivals some of our high-ropes facilities in terms of physical and mental challenge and team-building potential. Each element has a specific objective, and when done in sequence, the entire course can be the perfect option for mature youth and adult groups wanting to focus on leadership, critical thinking, and problem-solving in groups of 8-12 people.  The Low Ropes program encourages new and different ways of thinking and pushes the group to pool their resources and work together to find solutions. Every session includes a debrief, where a facilitator leads participants in an open discussion as they reflect and process their experience. Our Low Ropes program can also be combined with Group Initiatives for a well-rounded and fun team-building adventure!

Recently the Program Staff attended a training and orientation to the new course. Here are some great photos from the field!

Nitro Crossing

The Spider Web

The Centipede

Whale Watch

Mohawk Walk

Giant's Finger

A HUGE thank you to the Ruth Camp Campbell and the Camp Younts Foundations in allowing this exciting program opportunity to happen!


High Ropes vs. Low Ropes

All challenge courses consist of a series of real and imaginary obstacles designed to encourage individuals  or groups to work towards a common goal and accomplish a certain physical task. These challenges are designed to increase communication and break down physical and emotional barriers. Participants are often pushed beyond their normal comfort zones, which is when the most personal growth and empowerment occurs. These activities give members the opportunity to demonstrate their trust in facilitators, equipment, other members of the group, and most importantly, themselves!

Low Ropes Courses include a series of elevated cables, platforms, ropes and wooden beams one or two feet off the ground. Throughout a typical low-ropes session, participants will swing, step, climb, reach, balance, traverse and encounter other tests of physical strength, coordination, balance, and flexibility. The challenges focus on problem-solving and cooperation, requiring the involvement of very member of the group in order to succeed. These team-building activities are based on a sequence of events that progressively become more difficult to complete.  Participants will even realize that “failure” can sometimes be considered a positive outcome and a learning experience!  Though close to the ground,  these challenges do still present a slight element of risk and danger, therfore all activities are monitored closely by trained program staff. Oftentimes group members must assume critical spotting roles for their team-member’s safety.

High Ropes Courses are pre-fabricated vertical climbing structures usually 25-50 feet high, constructed with utility poles, cables, bolts, and ropes. In a static course (such as our Odyssey, Diamond Extension, and Indoor Linear Courses) participants are attached to an overhead wire with fixed ropes and carabiners for safety. On a dynamic course (such as the Alpine Tower or Carolina Wall) participants go through the course connected to a rope that a trained facilitator will belay from the ground. High Ropes courses allow for the most individual self-discovery and personal growth from participants because of their extreme height and physical challenge. The adrenaline-rush associated with setting and achieving personal goals, and overcoming fears helps to build confidence, self esteem and foster a sense of unity among groups.

Diamond Extension

Alpine Tower

All of our programs have the ability to inspire, motivate, and change lives! Of course, the most important element in all of our Challenge Course facilities is FUN! Both low and high ropes courses promote physical activity, personal development, and relationship-building, helping us to better serve youth and guests as we fulfill the YMCA mission.

To learn which type of challenge course would best fit the needs of your group, please contact Danielle Tocaben, Sales Director at (828) 210-8457.


In other Program news…our Predator & Prey woodland course has undergone a recent makeover. The food and water stations have been repainted, new boundaries were established, and several fun new “twists” were added to the game. Predator & Prey is the perfect program option for 5-8th graders, where participants simulate the food chain and survival in a typical forest environment through a fast-paced and educational game of “tag” in the woods.

Predator & Prey

To learn more about our diverse Program offerings, please visit our website or contact Program Director, Peggy Eckel at (828) 201-2142. We look forward to seeing you out on the field!


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2011 Y Conferences

Blue Ridge Assembly has been hosting national YMCA conferences for over a century. Our beautiful year-round facilities provide the ideal location to unite the Y triad of mind, body, and spirit. These conferences allow individuals from YMCA’s all over the country to come together for leadership training, YMCA education, and professional development in a Christian atmosphere. Here is a preview of what’s to come in 2011!

Campfire Conference (January 9-11, 2011): www.ycampfire.org

Since Campfire’s inception in 1978, it has become the largest conference for YMCA camping professionals in the nation. During this winter conference, participants gather to develop the personal and professional ties to prepare them for their busy summer seasons – exploring the outdoors with fun and recreational camp activities and other programming that will provide a safe and thriving environment for young people in their communities.

Association of YMCA Professionals (March 23-25, 2011): www.ayponline.org

The Association of YMCA Professionals is a national professional membership organization which has been in existence since 1871. AYP’s purpose is to advance, inspire, and connect YMCA staff members from around the country. This yearly conference provides career support, advancement, and networking opportunities for Y leaders and professionals in a beautiful mountain setting. Blue Ridge Assembly belongs to AYP Chapter 23 , which serves both North and South Carolina YMCA staff members.

Christian Leadership Conference (May 20 – 22, 2011): http://christianleadershipconf.org

Since 1974 the Christian Leadership Conferences have trained YMCA camp leaders, child care workers, staff and volunteers. Workshops are conducted on a variety of leadership subjects which may include the YMCA Rag/Leather Program, storytelling, worship, prayer, Christian values, the YMCA mission and much more.

Blue Ridge Leaders’ School (June 18 – 25, 2011): www.ymcabrls.org

The Blue Ridge Leaders’ School has been educating teens in the principles and philosophy of YMCA physical education since 1922. The week-long youth conference focuses on leadership development and athletic performance through YMCA sports and fitness programs with a strong Christian foundation.

Conference on National Affairs (July 2 – 8, 2011): www.ymcacona.org

The first Conference on National Affairs was held in 1968 in Stone Mountain, Georgia as a follow-up to the outstanding “Youth in Government” programs conducted by YMCA’s in states all over the U.S.  Two years later the conference moved to Blue Ridge Assembly, where it has been held every summer since. Throughout the conferences, youth participants will gain an awareness of national concerns and increase understanding of Federal Government and its relation to both State and International matters. Delegates will also focus on effective communication, debate, and creative-thinking in an effort to solve real-world problems and political issues.

YMCA Excel (July 8 – 11, 2011): www.ymcaxl.org

The YMCA EXCEL Conference is a relatively new venture for the YMCA. Founded in 2009, Excel is dedicated to the exploration of leadership, values, and ethics in college-aged individuals and in particular, the application of these skills to post-graduate life and work. Participants will reflect the importance of social and professional networking and learn to enter “the real world” with the confidence, skills and knowledge to ensure personal and professional success.

Christian Values Conference for Jr. High School Students (July 15 – 17, 2011) & Christian Values Conference for High School Students (July 17 – 22, 2011): www.ymcacvc.org

Since the 1950’s, the Christian Values Conference (once referred to as the “Hi-Y” or “Tri-Hi-Y” Conference”), has brought together a diverse mix of high school and middle school students from across the country. CVC provides a safe, caring and uplifting Christian atmosphere that is welcoming to all. The conference encourages teens to strengthen positive life skills, form healthy relationships, establish strong moral character, and to challenge and empower themselves by taking active steps in spiritual growth.

Principles and Practices (December 6-9, 2011): www.ymca.net

This conference, hosted by the YMCA of the USA is meant to inspire, educate, and motivate YMCA staff from throughout our Southeast region. It focuses on the foundation of the YMCA, including its history, mission, community involvement, and other opportunities for career growth and development within the organization.

Please check with your local YMCA branch for more information or visit the specific conference website to register.

The Y: “For youth development, social responsibility, and healthy living.”

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