Low Ropes creates trust with peers

Sonoma State University provides a unique learning experience for small groups through its low ropes program. The course is located between Darwin and the Rec center. That is the place where small groups come together to learn how to build trust, leadership, problem solving, teamwork and communication skills. 

Low ropes facilitator McKella Koho has been part of the ropes program for four years now, leading groups through a series of activities to build these skills. Any group with at least six people can sign up for a ropes program. 

Also, if they are Sonoma State students or affiliates, the group is paid for by a grant from Instructionally Related Activity Fees. In other words, the course is free if you are a Sonoma State student. For non-students or affiliates of SSU the cost varies depending on duration of stay on the ropes course. Prices are divided into quarter days (2-3.5 hours), half days (4 hours) and full days (8 hours). 

Koho believes the low ropes program can be a valuable experience. 

“Participating in a group allows people the chance to get away from real world problems. It may seem silly at first but if students come with an awesome attitude they give themselves the opportunity to break down social barriers. Do not be afraid to get a little weird” said McKella Koho. 

Facilitators also enjoy reminding people about sustainability, putting a twist on the story of an activity to get the groups thinking about what the word “sustainability” means to them. The course itself tries to use as much recycled material as possible so they can eliminate waste. For example, the low rope element of the course is constructed with recycled utility poles that would otherwise been dumped. 

Sara Joy Mullinax is a freshman here at SSU and is originally from Inglewood, CA. She attended the low ropes program with her philosophy class and did not expect to get involved as much as she did. The facilitators of the ropes course led her group through a series of non-strenuous activities. They began with name games, followed by ice breakers, then onto more challenging activities that focus on communication, problem solving, building trust and the low ropes course itself. 

“I did not really expect to get on the low ropes course, but after going through the different activities I felt comfortable enough with my class to give it a try,” said Mullinax. “The ropes course can help overcome any fears. Do not be afraid to look stupid because if you set that aside you can accomplish a lot” she stated. Sara Joy is excited to come back and recommends this to her peers. 

Facilitators like McKella Koho are able to their job because of strong leaders like Cammy York, who is one of the programmers for low ropes. This is her second year as a programmer, but she has worked for low ropes for a total of four years. She is in charge of scheduling, hiring and overseeing facilitators like Koho.

 Cammy York loves her job because low ropes is, “Community building and communication building. It is such a great high when you facilitate and the group vibes with what you are saying and doing.” She believes adventure programs as a whole is a great community that people should get involved in. 

With students involved in group projects, teams, clubs on campus, work and any array of groups activities, it can be beneficial to sign up for a ropes course to have some fun while learning valuable life lessons. To set a date for a group contact ropes@sonoma.edu and talk to either Cammy York or Lisa Moore. They will set the group up with facilitators and from there you can customize the types of challenges, activities and the duration of the course.