Baylor Challenge Course encourages teamwork in local communities

The Baylor Challenge course offers an exciting space for Baylor student groups to build trust and camaraderie. Courtesy of Baylor Campus Recreation

Holly Luttrell | Reporter

The Baylor Challenge Course utilizes group games and a rope obstacle course to encourage teamwork and communication within organizations from Baylor and the Waco community.

Located approximately three miles from campus at the Eastland Lakes facility, the Challenge Course is a space for visitors who want to refine their team building skills.

The course is overseen and operated by Campus Recreation. It is not available to individual guests, but to organizations who want to help encourage cooperation and unity within themselves. There are various programming options offered to meet the needs of each group that visits.

According to the Challenge Course website, an estimated 35,000 guests have visited the Baylor Challenge Course in the two decades it has been open. Each group has its own needs, so they plan their days accordingly. The course offers day programs that can help build trust among a new community or refine skills in an existing one.

Assistant director for outdoor adventure Cody Schrank said the Baylor Challenge Course caters to a wide variety of visitors.

“They come with their goals in mind,” Schrank said. “Sometimes it’s a new group that’s just forming so they want to get to know each other and have some fun. Other groups may have worked together for a year or more and they are having issues with their team and they want to work on that.”

A daily curriculum could consist of group initiatives, a low obstacle course and a high ropes course, including specialty swings and zip lines. The group spends half of their day on the ground working on team initiatives before putting on harnesses and hitting the ropes course. Each stage of the Challenge Course is designed to encourage teamwork and trust to reach a common goal. Visitors must communicate and rely on one another to accomplish a task and move from one stage of the course to another.

Morrilton, Ark. freshman Avery Croswell visited the Baylor Challenge Course as a part of Line Camp with the Honors College. This group is one of several Baylor organizations that utilize the Challenge Course, including the Lead Living-Learning Center and the school of engineering and computer science.

“The course was about teamwork so, for example, on the giant swing you had to have a bunch of people help pull the person up to the highest point before they were released, so that was a team building activity,” said Croswell.

Schrank said that approximately half of the visitors to the Challenge Course are Baylor-affiliated groups. He estimates another 25 percent are elementary and high school students from local communities, and the final quarter is made up of corporate groups.

The Baylor Challenge Course also offers special events for organizations with specific needs, such as judicial affairs.

“Students who are in that program can opt to come to the Challenge Course as opposed to doing community service. That is a full day group,” Schrank said.

The Baylor Challenge Course has found success in the time it has been open, and Campus Recreation has plans to continue growing the site. There is currently a proposal to build a new structure that is awaiting approval from the university. This addition would feature an elevated ropes course that allows a team of four people to move simultaneously.

Schrank explained that the courses are traditionally built to move one person at a time with the help of their group. This new structure would require the four-person teams to work together as a unit to move simultaneously from one element to another, climbing higher as they advanced to a final zip line.

The Baylor Challenge Course offers several services to the variety of Baylor, corporate, school, youth group and non-profit organizations it hosts. Visitors can grow as a team and trust one another on a tricky obstacle course that is still expanding to serve local communities.