Category Archives: Everything OLC

Planning A Retreat

Planning a retreat can be a lot of work.  There are many different things to think about and to plan for.  Here is a basic outline of questions to ask and steps to take to assure a successful retreat:

1. Preplanning:

  • Budget:
    • o How much can and are you willing to spend?  Figure out what you can afford and do some research before making any reservations.
    • o Who is paying for it? Your organization or the individuals attending?
  • Dates:
    • o Figure out several dates that work for you and anyone else planning the retreat.  Consider the timing for other people (is it during spring break or when another activity is going on?)
  • Goals and Objectives: What do you want to do and accomplish?
    • o Decide what type of retreat you want to have.  Is the goal for everyone to have fun?  Is it to help train your group to be better leaders?  Decide what type of activities and the length of stay would be appropriate for your group and goals.

2. Call the place you would like to hold your retreat

  • Are the program/ activities, lodging, and food within your price range?
  • Do they have an available date when you want to attend?
  • Can they host the number of people that want to attend?

3. Advertise!

  • Get people pumped for the retreat you are planning!
    • o Make announcements, send emails, spread the word, post pictures, and hand out information
    • o Share some of the highlights for the retreat
  • Give the dates as early as you can, so they can book it on their calendar.  The earlier they know, they more likely they can “save the date” and be available.

4. Book the retreat

  • Even if you don’t know the exact number, if you have a good idea that enough people will attend, get it in the calendar.
  • Give an estimate number of people, request the number of meals and nights you want to attend, and any additional requests (such as activities and meeting spaces).

5. Preparation

  • Have directions for each person (if people are driving separately).
  • Itinerary/ schedule: give to organization and to leaders (and participants if necessary)
  • Give a packing list for everyone.
  • Send in all forms that need to be given to the organization.
  • Finalize numbers and times with the organization.

6. Have Fun!

  • Have a back-up plan if anything is weather depending.
  • Relax and enjoy the retreat!

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Facing Challenges

How do people grow?  We grow through the development of our bodies and through the process of learning in our minds.  How do people learn? We learn by exploring, questioning, discovering, and by being challenged.  What does it mean to be challenged? To be challenged is to face a task or problem that requires work and effort.  Through this challenge, we begin to discover, test, stimulate the mind, and provide opportunities for growth.  No one grows in their area of comfort.  Imagine your place of comfort.  Is it at the beach?  In a tree?  Watching television?  Wherever your comfort place may be, think about how much you are learning and growing.  “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

Challenges are different for each individual.  Some are challenged when faced with heights, while others are challenged when speaking publicly.  No two people share all of the same challenges.  People handle challenges differently, too.  Some prefer to face a challenge alone, while some like to share and talk about it. How one responds to challenges is crucial for growth.  Individuals can ignore the challenge or face it with confidence.

The Outdoor Learning Center strives to provide unique opportunities of challenges that stimulate growth for the individual and the team.  OLC presents a challenge and frames the experience to maximize growth.  Part of the growth process is how you address that challenge.  We help to guide individuals to think in positive and constructive ways, while encouraging success.  It is also important to reflect on your experiences to further understanding, discovery, and realization.  Some questions you could ask yourself are: What could I have done differently? What worked well? How did this make me feel and why?  Do not be afraid to tackle the challenges you are faced with because it can provide immense growth within yourself and around you.

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The Who-Huh-What Knot?!

The figure eight knot is a type of knot that is used for a variety of activities, including the high ropes course and for rock climbing at the Outdoor Learning Center.  When using knots as a safety line, it is important to make sure the knot is completed properly.  Not only should one be sure to tie the proper knot, it is also important to understand the principles of knots.  Knots are the weakest point in a rope.  The first place a rope will tear (excluding obstruction to the rope) is the knot.  Certain knots have higher rates of strength rates than others.  According to Project Adventure, Inc., it takes 420 to 470 pounds of braking force for a figure eight knot to break in plate mode.  With proper care and safety precautions, the risk of the figure eight knot breaking is minimal.

There are several types of figure eight knots, such as the figure eight retrace knot and a figure eight loop, and double figure eight.  Here is the basic figure eight knot:

figure 8 knot

On the high ropes course, we use a figure eight loop knot with a locking carabiner that is clipped to the harness.  Many climbers and people that use knots have different preferences.  There is no one single knot that is correct for any activity.  Different knots serve different purposes.  An excellent place to learn how to tie knots is at:  Please take precautions when using knots as a safety support line.  If you are inexperienced, try taking a class or learn from an experience climber.

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Explorer Dining Hall Renovations

We have been enthusiastically watching the progress of renovations at our Explorer Dining Hall.  The basement has had some dramatic changes.  The two support pillars were removed and replaced with a 4,000 pound beam allowing more space and less visual obstruction.  We had heat and air conditioning installed, along with fans and lots of light.  There is a drop ceiling, insulated walls, and closet space.  We are currently working on our final touches of staining wood and floor. The improvements are amazing.  OLC is excited to have a new space to host a variety of activities and groups.  Check out the our new Explorer Dining Hall basement!


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