If you step into the woods and look carefully, you’ll see ropes, webs and zip lines threaded through the treetops at the Warren Conference Center. It’s the center’s high-ropes course, one element of its customized team-building program.
Roy Charette is quick to say that the high-ropes course is not for everyone. It’s only one of many strategies that his company, Training Path, uses to encourage teamwork, ignite innovation and bring groups together at the conference center.
But for those who are game to climb a web, walk 30 feet above the ground on taut cables or fly with the squirrels, the Warren Conference Center is well prepared.
What can groups learn from such derring-do? I asked Charette after watching groups of Northeastern University freshmen — here for a day of bonding — climb, dangle, fly and inch across a high wire, then walk away smiling with arms draped around the shoulders of new pals.
“It’s one way to break preconceived notions of what’s possible,” he said.
Charette’s experienced trainers set up high-ropes training carefully, teaching the group how to belay, which secures the harnessed climbers with ropes as they ascend.
“It puts trust in place,” he said. “There is a team that the climber can rely on, a team of people they just met that day! You learn that groups don’t fail you.”
The ropes course also teaches that accepting challenges equips us to better meet new challenges, said Charette.
Charette believes that a little anxiety, whether on the high ropes or in a meeting room that’s set up a little differently, makes people more attentive.
He said about 20 percent of people who approach the high ropes say, “No way!” But after they watch others and self-diagnose their fears, about 80 percent of that 20 percent end up taking part.
“People think about times they didn’t go forth and take a risk,” said Charette. “The ropes course gives them a safe way to overcome barriers they have created for themselves.”