When I returned to Guatemala from working in Taiwan in 1996 and was faced with living in the city – I decided that I needed to undertake a project that I had dreamed of for quite a long time – to build a challenge ropes course. Based on my 10+ years of working in the adventure field at that time, I decided to build and operate a ropes course – the first in Guatemala. With the support of family and friends, I scouted a place a to build a pole course. We built the low course together, taking advantage to also build some elements among the trees. Together with a professional builder from my hometown in Vermont, we co-designed and built the high elements with some special 50 foot pressure treated posts from the northern jungles that were originally intended for use in the building of a wharf at the Atlantic sea port. This whole process was so much fun! The project was begun as a hobby, but was seriously put to the test as clients ranged from schools-businesses-churches-community groups-youth groups that were willing to work around my schedule of teaching. Programming also ran the gamut of educational topics, team building, leadership, specified work initiatives and pure old recreational fun. Program evaluations showed evidence of being very successful – and of equal importance was the safety record of never having any injury happen worse than a small rope friction burn. We took pride in being about SAFETY, LEARNING, & FUN, in that order.
In 2009 I excitedly entered into the planning of a new project with an exciting local social and capital entrepreneur to develop a leadership retreat center. I took apart the ropes course in anticipation of moving the course to a new site. Unfortunately, an unforseen turn of events dictated that the project would not be able to proceed as planned. At the same time that the direction of the project changed, so did my efforts in working with clients in experiential training. I decided to concentrate on my experiential teaching at Colegio Maya while beginning my doctoral studies with the idea of waiting to find a new project for making use of the challenge ropes course. Since that time, the disassembled challenge ropes course has sat inert waiting for a new project group and focus – perhaps it will find beneficial use in my work with Empowerment Unlimited, Play for Peace, and/or SERES? Maybe! I am open to making this wonderful experiential learning tool available to groups with a focus on doing the generative good work with groups interested in improving their capacity – especially in work focused upon team building and leadership.
Currently, I continue to make use of experiential training and learning in my teaching and training with school groups (students, faculty and staff), companies, and non-profit projects as offered through Empowerment Unlimited. I have blended my professional and personal passions in bringing together Appreciative/Ascending conceptual drive to this site and work of Appreciative Ventures.