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New West Side 4-H Challenge Courses in the Works

PUYALLUP, Wash. — The Washington State University Extension 4-H Youth Development Program is in the process of establishing up to six new outdoor ropes challenge courses in the south Puget Sound region.

The ropes challenge courses provide fun and challenging experiential learning activities that require participants to work together to solve problems, facilitated by trained instructors. The ropes courses are a key activity in the 4-H Challenge Program, which also involves other group activities such as backpacking, canoeing and rock climbing. Challenge activities teach cooperation, leadership, communication, decision making, problem solving, conflict resolution and self-confidence.

“We’re identifying potential sites and building partnerships to develop new courses in the central and south Puget Sound region,” according to statewide 4-H program director Pat BoyEs.

A premiere course is being developed at Meyer’s Point on Henderson Inlet in Thurston County, overlooking Puget Sound with views of Mount Rainier and the Olympic Mountains. It is being developed in collaboration with Thurston County Extension and is scheduled to begin operation in fall 2007.

Discussions are underway with Pierce College Puyallup to establish a new low ropes course adjacent to the college’s new Health Education Center. If planning proceeds as expected the course would tentatively open in summer 2007.

BoyEs says that discussions are underway with the Tacoma Metropolitan Parks Board to develop two courses, one on each side of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and with Pierce County Parks to site a new course in the greater Bonney Lake area. An existing course owned by the Spanaway School District is also being considered for the 4-H program.

The 4-H Challenge Program was started in 1984 at the WSU Demonstration Forest in Bonney Lake, where it served more than 6,000 young people and 2,000 adults per year under the watchful eye of more than 100 certified volunteer facilitators. The program has since expanded statewide.

The 4-H program makes its challenge courses available for other school and youth groups as well as to businesses and agencies who want to build teamwork and enhance problem-solving and collaborative skills among employees.

The WSU Extension 4-H program is the largest non-school youth development program in the state with 80,000 active members.

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