By Lee Shawver, Challenge Course Director

Nestled in the southwest corner of our campus is an area consisting of telephone poles connected by steel cables and other peculiar contraptions. This is Chico State’s ropes course—clearly a hidden gem.  Here, groups climb, jump, swing, fly, laugh, cry, and ponder—all in an effort to get a better understanding of themselves and others, work as a team, learn to lead, and maybe even discover a sense of community in the process.

I find it a shame that this course is relatively unknown in the Chico community. I am the director of the course, and it’s my job to guide people through the process. I have witnessed the transformational power of a ropes course experience and believe that everyone should experience the power that lies in engaging in managed risk. I regularly facilitate groups on the course, and I see them work to succeed in overcoming challenges that have real-life applications. The course is not just for Outdoor Education students—and it’s not just for Chico State students. It exists to provide our community with creative and engaging opportunities for growth and discovery.

Our program is designed to break down barriers, to challenge comfort levels, to realize the power of vulnerability and social exchange, and to help create a sense of belonging. A ropes course experience demonstrates metaphorically the challenges we all face and how to develop tools to navigate those challenges. I want everyone to experience this exhilarating ride.

If you are interested in or have any questions regarding the course, you can contact Lee at or visit the ropes course on the Web.