Ropes Course Fund

It’s no surprise that spending time outdoors is good for you, but it is especially true when enjoying diverse outdoor spaces like the grounds at Pallottine Renewal Center.  Most of us spend the day sitting indoors, staring at our computers or our phones. As necessary as these activities are, spending time outdoors has numerous health benefits.

The guests of Pallottine Renewal Center take advantage of walking and generally enjoying the outside benefits of our campus, helping them physically and mentally.  Walking around gardens can stimulate our imaginations and creative thinking.  Recognizing that spending time outside leads to flow of ideas and can help build relationships in a fun, easy environment.  Regardless of the industry or size of team, spending time together in new surroundings improves communication and generates respect through collaboration.

It is this recognition that ignited the development of a ropes course on our campus.

The past year has heightened everyone’s need to remain connected to our families, our friends and our colleagues. We have been enlightened to the fact that human interaction – in person, not via a virtual portal – is essential for everyone’s emotional and spiritual well-being.

Pallottine Renewal Center is the perfect place to renew and refresh our connections to each other, and to rejuvenate the emotional and spiritual well-being for everyone in our community. To that end, Pallottine’s board and staff are pleased to introduce a new and unique service for our community.

Pallottine is in the process of establishing a low-ropes course on our beautiful 83-acre campus. A low ropes course is a challenging outdoor personal development and team-building activity which consists of low elements that take place on the ground or slightly above ground. The skills course will invigorate and renew participants, foster personal development of character, build communication and conflict management skills, develop team collaboration, and enhance essential leadership skills.

To complement the great new all-inclusive playground being built at Manion Park in Florissant, Pallottine’s ropes course will have two stations accessible for those with ability needs, making this a valuable and unique course in St. Louis.

The ropes course will be beneficial for a variety of groups in the region.

For example, in the medical field – as in many businesses, professions and work programs – teamwork is essential.  Comprehensive patient care requires input from and coordination with multiple disciplines. Helen S. Kornblum, M.D., with SSM St. Mary’s Hospital and the core faculty and associate program director for the Internal Medicine Residency Program, said that a core element of residency training is learning to embrace this discipline and understand the application of multidisciplinary teams to quality patient care. Teamwork is a fundamental aspect of residency training. For a fun and interactive way to develop teamwork, Kornblum has been taking her residency program to a ropes course out of town.

“To have a ropes course local not only saves time and costs, but expands the opportunity to offer this to others within our organization,” Kornblum said.

Kornblum said that team-building activities in a ropes course program present an extraordinary opportunity for her team of residents, providing the opportunity to get to know one another and learn how to deeply connect, actively listen and work together toward a common goal.

“Furthermore, fostering friendships and leadership through team building enhances commitment to and investment in work, augmenting a shared goal of quality service,” Kornblum said. “This all is applicable to the medical-decision making process.”

Team-building activities are a fantastic opportunity for team members to tackle challenges outside their job descriptions. When faced with the various challenges in the course, members often display hidden talents or strengths.

“Discovering these hidden abilities and weaknesses are a great objective of team-building,” Kornblum said. “This not only allows the residents to learn new things about each other, but it also identifies areas of strengths and weaknesses to enhance personal insight to further accentuate learning and growth opportunities.”

Team-building exercises naturally strengthen communication by providing opportunities for groups to try different communication styles. Effective communication enhances creativity through dialogue and different perspectives, and improvement in conflict resolution skills.

“Team-building activities build trust fast,” Kornblum said. “Comprehensive patient care cannot be accomplished alone, just as a sports teams cannot win with only one player.  Trust develops as members come to rely on teammates’ help and expertise and see each other on a deeper and more intimate level throughout the course.”

The Pallottine Renewal Center ropes course will appeal to and be beneficial for various types of groups, from adult to the youth in our community.

As a teacher and elementary school principal for more than 30 years, Sandy Baner, Ed.D., took his fifth-grade children to a week of camp each school year. Among all the various activities, one of the favorites among both students and staff was the ropes course, he said. The ropes course offered more than a lifetime of memories.

“Team-building, trust, communication, leadership skills, watching out for others, pushing limits and enhancing confidence, the list is endless,” Baner said. “I watched as quiet, reserved children found a voice because they were finally heard with ‘the’ idea after numerous not so successful attempts were tried on a ropes course station. I watched students create plans to ensure success for their physically challenged classmates. I heard words of encouragement all too seldom heard in the traditional school environment. I am excited to learn of plans to build such a course at the Pallottine Renewal Center. What a phenomenal opportunity for the community; whether school, church or business.”

Corporations, non-profit organizations, health care providers, students and educators, church groups and others all succeed when everyone works together toward a common goal. Team building teaches collaboration – achieving more together than apart. Authentic relationships, mindful listening and cooperative teamwork establish a culture that values connections, draws in great talent, increases employee retention and accomplishes a common goal of quality outcomes.

On its beautiful campus, with plentiful outdoor green space, Pallottine Renewal Center has always recognized the value of nature. As everyone has been challenged by the economic and emotional costs of the 2020 pandemic shutdown, we have seen the healing powers of the outdoors more clearly. Outdoor engagement has helped individuals cope and will help all of us to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The low ropes course will bring the powerful benefits of experiential learning into the beauty and peace of Pallottine’s outdoor space. Through the experiences a ropes course provides, we can build leadership and sustain connections and community necessary for those newly working in virtual and remote work environments, and even more necessary to address the emerging personal, social and organizational challenges we are facing as a society.

Our society needs sacred, safe places where diversity is celebrated, everyone is welcome and meaningful life-changing transformation can occur. Pallottine Renewal Center is that place for our region.

But we need your help to follow through on this mission. Your generous contribution supports and sustains our profound mission and ministry. Please help us to expand and enhance our ability to serve the increasingly complex needs of our world.  Pallottine is a proud anchor in our community, hosting more than 4,000 guests annually from all over the United States.

We look forward to connecting and reconnecting with all of you in our community sooner than later.

Picture used with permission of The Hopkins Foundation in Emporia, Kan.

Picture courtesy/permission of Hollie Terry, director of School Programs, Alabama Wildlife Federation.

Zig Zag
The Meuse
Spiders Web

Many other future campus outdoor plans include:

  • Building a Pavilion
  • Enhancing our pond
  • Maintain our trails.
  • Keeping our Beautiful gardens and Meditation spots healthy
  • Keeping the labyrinth well-preserved
  • Developing a horseshoe game set