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: http://www.abc-of-rockclimbing.com/howto/learn_climbing_knots.asp.  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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What Is a Low Ropes Course?

A ropes course can be called a challenge course, cooperation course, team course, obstacle course, and many other names.  Whatever the name may be, the principle of the course is the same.  A ropes course can consist of high and/or low elements, both of which we have at Horizons!  A low ropes course is a series of obstacles that provide challenges to a group of people to work together and achieve a common goal.  Some of the outcomes of participating in a low ropes course are:

  • improving team work, cooperation, and problem-solving skills
  • developing leadership skills
  • building relationships and trust with team members
  • enhancing communication skills
  • acquiring self -awareness and growth.

When participating in a low ropes course, the group is faced with smaller challenges that gradually get bigger as the group progresses.  An example of a low ropes course is the spider web.  The spider web looks exactly how it sounds, except in giant form!  The challenge is to get the group from one side of the spider web to the other side without touching any of the rope.  In order to accomplish this, the group must work together to develop a plan and assist one another through the varying holes.  After they have completed the task, the group comes together to debrief.

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Minnieland Academy Visits OLC (6/20/12)

Students from Minnieland Academy in Harrisonburg, VA joined us for a visit at the Outdoor Learning Center on June 20th. As a part of their field trip to OLC, they met and did a painting activity with the horses, went on a nature hike and scavenger hunt, and had s’mores by the campfire. Check out some pictures from their visit!

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Sigma Nu Fraternity Visits OLC (6/19/12 – 6/21/12)

Sigma Nu Fraternity leadership group recently visited the Outdoor Learning Center on June 19-21st. About 20 students involved in the fraternity’s leadership traveled from all different states to do OLC’s high ropes course and stay at Mountain Valley Meeting and Retreat Center. Check out some photos from their visit!

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German School Visits OLC – 5/29/12 – 6/1/12

Fifth and Sixth grade students from The German School visited us here at The Outdoor Learning Center on Tuesday, May 29th through Friday, June 1st. The German School is a K -12 school with 40 students in each grade and is located just outside of Washington, D.C.. The students’ primary language is German and their secondary language is English. Here are a few photos from their visit:

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Girl Scouts Visit OLC – 5/18/12 – 5/20/12

A group of girl scouts visited us here at the Outdoor Learning Center on Friday, May 18th through Sunday, May 20th! The large group was made up of 40 girl scouts from 6 different troops and 8 troop leaders. They traveled from the Maryland/DC area to enjoy various OLC activities such as canoeing, the high and low ropes courses, the campfire circle and horseback riding. Check out a few of the pictures that were taken from their weekend here!

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