When you arrive you exit the boat and look up to see a beautiful island with lush, green vegetation set upon a sandy bank. As you venture into the jungle you see a building set in the distance. An Outward Bound Singapore emblem invites you inside. You are greeted by the very enthusiastic Outward Bound team and the CEP Champions. Your heart beats in anticipation of getting your hands dirty and your body active. Being split up into two groups, your group ventures down towards the water to begin the Build a Raft activity.
Four barrels , eight poles, rope, and a creative mind - these are your only supplies. You and your team of adventurers are challenged with the task of planning for, constructing, and utilizing a raft that will support everyone. The instructors help you with tying knots and give you very basic instructions. Forty-five minutes are on the clock – go team, go! You are now challenged with coming up with a proper design, delegate who does what, implement as quickly and efficiently as you can, check to make sure all your ducks are in a row, hope for the best.
What are you looking for? This activity will challenge you to work as a team with people that you may not have ever met before. You are challenged to identify yourself as a leader or a follower – and when it is appropriate to do each. Are you normally a leader? If you are – will you be comfortable taking the back seat and letting someone else take control? Are you a follower? If you are – will you be ok sitting back if you have a good idea? The point is that at many times in your life: in sport, in relationships, in school, in your career, etc. you will be challenged with these same things. By identifying early where you stand and knowing how you act in these situations, you can be more prepared when facing challenges in the future.
Now that you know how you work in large teams, let’s move on to a challenge of similar nature. You approach a wall, maybe one that looks familiar, maybe not. This wall is designed to mimic an outdoor setting, one that looks like a mountain. The wall is painted with small devices used for climbing. Ropes dangle from the top to be utilized for support. This challenge will test your love or hate of heights, as well as your trust in others.
Equipped with a harness and a helmet, you are now ready to embark on the rock climbing adventure. Your team consists of five: yourself (the climber), a supporter, a belayer, an anchor, and an assistant belayer. What do each of these team members do? Well, the supporter will be there to catch you if you fall below the safety line, the belayer will maintain your rope support and be there to save your life if you lose your grip up top, the anchor will ensure that the belayer can support your weight if you slip, and the assistant belayer handles the excess rope that the belayer is feeding. This small team of five has vital roles, ones that will keep a person alive in a real life climbing situation.
You are taught the commands of climbing to ensure that you are safe at all times. There is a protocol for safety to ensure that no matter what, you can climb to the top with ease. “Am I on belay?” you ask. The belayer checks to make sure that you are tied in properly, that they are secure with their equipment and ready for you to climb. They assure you that you are in safe hands…”Climb on…” you hear. You respond with just one word…”Climbing…” and then off you go. The whole time you are advancing up the wall there is only one thought on your mind – what is my next move?
Why are you not thinking about falling? Why are you not concerned about who is there to catch you if you fall? Your small team of five, though tiny in number, is strong in support. There is no need to worry about these questions because each person knows their role and knows it well. Your role is to trust in them.
This rock climbing activity teams you many different things. The main thing that I think one can learn in doing this is trust. In order to be successful in life you need to have trust not only in yourself, but also in those around you. Whether those around you are your teammates, family members, friends, or coworkers, you must have trust in them to do their jobs. You are just one person and it is impossible to be able to be in ten places at once or be able to do your role and someone else’s and still be successful. Each person plays a part in life and it is your job as a teammate of theirs to trust them. If you can trust them to be successful at what they do, you can then be confident with your own role and go on without worry.
So you head back on the small boat to return to Singapore and the Olympic Village. What did you take away? Sure, you made a raft and climbed a rock wall – but what else? What are you taking away that you learned about yourself? I challenge you to look beyond the harness and the helmet, look beyond the raft and the sea – look within yourself…where will you be when it is time to build the raft of life or climb the wall of life? Will you make it to the top? Will you sink or will you float? More importantly, who is there to help you?