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Challenge in the air

The climbing wall at Luther Crest Bible Camp is the central hub that all other elements work off of. (Photo by Eric Morken)1 / 3
Bonnie Moeller of Pelican Rapids walks the catwalk on the high ropes course on April 25. (Photo by Eric Morken)2 / 3
A group of facilitators in training guide a walker across the catwalk on the high ropes course. (Photo by Eric Morken)3 / 3

Workers at Luther Crest Bible Camp wanted to create something on site that would be a draw to the Alexandria community as a whole.

That's what they believe they accomplished with the recently completed challenge course that opened up to the public on May 1. The course, called Project Confidence, has both high and low rope courses designed to offer challenges to people of all ages and comfort levels.

"Luther Crest was engaged in strategic planning and trying to figure out what our next steps are to be a place where people desire to come, but also, how can we engage the overall community rather than just the churches?" executive director David Holtz said. "This ropes course, I feel, will be one of those areas where we will be opened up to be more a part of the greater Alexandria area."

Holtz was on site on April 25 as staffers were trained in on the high ropes course to earn certification. It is a course that offers the public 12 different elements to maneuver at 30 feet in the air.

A climbing wall serves as the central hub with the other elements working off of that. The challenges include things like a catwalk, floating islands, a 300-foot zip line and a power pole where the objective is to climb to the top and finish by leaping out and tagging a cowbell that hangs overhead.

Every climber is strapped in safely to a belay system. Trained facilitators are guiding them on the ground and leading the individuals through the different elements that they want to tackle.

The low ropes course also offers 12-plus challenges built within the trails of the forest on the Luther Crest campus. The idea was to have something for everyone, depending on how much they wanted to challenge themselves.

"People of all ages and sizes and abilities can do this," Corey Shuman of Adventure Based Experiential Educators (ABEE) said. "That's important to note."

Shuman was leading the certification training through ABEE, the company that helped design the $75,000 challenge course for Luther Crest. He said the courses are created to be used for recreation and to serve as a learning tool. What he tells facilitators in training everywhere he goes is that they should challenge the participants to stretch their comfort zone but not pressure them to do anything they don't want to do.

That will be the goal every time a group comes to the course at Luther Crest. They named it Project Confidence because they wanted to foster an environment where people push themselves to go to the next level.

Team building will also be an important part of the process. Single-person activities and team challenges make up the course, but group members will be involved by helping out each climber on the ground. Whether it's a church group or a local business, the idea is that each person learns something from the adventure.

"I hope they can come out here and experience something new that maybe pushes them outside of their comfort zone," adventure program director Jake Hanson said. "That's a confidence building thing. So they can take advantage of all the different activities we offer both on the high course and the low course, and they can experience something that maybe pushes them out of that comfort box and grow from that experience."

Luther Crest also wanted to make it an affordable opportunity for groups to enjoy. The cost per person is $18 for three hours on the high course, $16 on the low course and $30 for a full day, which includes three hours on each course.

Individuals or groups can make appointments by contacting Hanson at (320) 846-2431 or by e-mail at jakeh@luthercrest .org. A total of 10 groups had already reserved times on the course before it even opened.

"Groups are starting to come in," Hanson said. "We're having a youth workers day. We also have kids day coming up. We have Summer Stretch using the course in June. Community Ed has a couple different groups coming through. That's fun to reach out to the Alex community and the greater community beyond that, so it is very exciting."

For more information on the course, visit

Follow #AlexMN @EchoPress Sports Reporter Eric Morken on Twitter at @echo_sports.

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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