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April 26, 2005
LEWISBURG, Pa. — Bucknell joined an increasing number of colleges and universities offering high ropes challenges courses with the completion of its own challenge course at the Forrest D. Brown Conference Center in March, located in the village of Cowan (nine miles west of Lewisburg). The CLIMBucknell Challege Course was dedicated on April 23.
CLIMBucknell stands for Challenge, Leadership, Innovation And Motivation. The course contains a number of "high elements" — a 70-foot climbing tower, a 400-foot zip line, and several 35-foot high-ropes activities — designed to teach individuals about risk assessment and personal challenge. The "low elements" have names like the Commitment Bridge and Tight Rope Walk, require group participation, and teach group dynamics, leadership, and cooperation.
Jim Hostetler, who is the director of construction and design at Bucknell, spearheaded the project, which he calls a "classroom without walls." As a longtime mountain climber and spelunker, he has touted the benefits of outdoor education.
He says, "The process is exciting and provides a huge step in teaching people how to cooperate and get a project finished, which is something you can apply in the classroom or in the boardroom. The Cowan course presents great opportunities to foster bonding, trust, and leadership among faculty, staff, and alumni."
Bucknell President Brian C. Mitchell also endorsed the challenge course, saying that Bucknell has joined a number of other institutions recognizing the value of outdoor education and personal challenge. "Experiential education serves as a bridge between our liberal arts curriculum and focused human development," he said. "The lessons learned on the challenge course blend with academic education in a highly additive way."
CLIMBucknell was funded by two brothers, both Bucknell alumni and outdoorsmen, Ben '69 and Myles Sampson '67. Says Myles, "After taking a tour of Cowan, Ben and I realized that this beautiful wooded property was the ideal spot to capitalize on the growing interest today's students have in the outdoors.
"Jim Hostetler convinced us that a challenge course could really help to boost students' self-confidence and enhance their abilities to work as a team. Our hope is that the challenge course will be the first of many projects that will encourage students to connect with the outdoors and each other in this great rural location."
The Sampsons dedicated the course in the names of Bucknell alumni who perished during the Vietnam War: Guy B.Creep '63, Michael A. R. deMagnin '67, Robert A. Doten '69, John D. Duncan '67, Norman E. Fine Jr. '68, Lewis B. Gaiser '65, Alan D. Gardner '62, Ronald C. Osborne '63, A. Robert Toal '58.
The course was built by EdVentures of Bloomsburg, Pa., a company that specializes in adventure education. Bucknell's 70-foot climbing tower is the tallest the company has ever built. Says Hostetler, "We wanted the biggest and the best."
According to Hostetler, the ropes course may be available in the future to members of the non-Bucknell community, depending on fulfillment of the insurance requirement. Interested parties should contact the Office of Reservations, Information and Conference Services at 577-3095 regarding costs, forms and scheduling or see ClimBucknell.
Myles Sampson '67
Ben Sampson '69