Ultimate Challenge Obstacle & Fitness Course

by Darlinda McDonald

This past summer, Army recruits, Boy Scouts, Summer’s Best Two Weeks Staff and Volunteers, Boys and Girls Soccer Teams, JV and Varsity Volleyball Teams, Youth Groups, families, and many others, experienced the obstacle course challenge under Bill Rudge’s direction. We are one of a very few ministries that has access to the schools and the opportunity to work with and train military. The following articles describe a few of those experiences.

Challenges

When Sgt. Keiuffer Ritter and Army Commander Captain Erin Funkhouser heard about the Bill Rudge Ministries’ Ultimate Challenge Obstacle Course, they were excited to have recruits gain a different experience. With rain threatening overhead, recruits from Beaver, Erie, Greenville, Grove City, Hermitage, Meadville, New Castle, West Middlesex, and Sharpsville descended on the obstacle course – and then the weather turned beautiful. Most were preparing to leave for basic training so Bill gave them a taste of what was to come. Other Army personnel present included Sgt. Gregory Armstrong, 1st Sgt. Aaron Evans, Sgt. Jacob Zimmerman and retired Sgt. 1st Class Tim McCall.

The obstacles required a wide variety of skills and abilities that included strength, balance, coordination and memory. The recruits learned the importance of teamwork as well as competition. As always, Bill explained that the skills they used on the obstacle course – determination, courage, obedience, communication and faith – are the same ones they will need in life. Sgt. Ritter said the day went so well preparing the recruits for their journey in the U.S. Army that they are planning to return – which they did a few weeks later.

Teamwork

JV and Varsity Girls Volleyball teams and Boys and Girls Varsity Soccer Teams were led by Bill through loosening and stretching exercises, endurance and speed drills, relay races, navigating through the obstacle course, and other activities designed for physical conditioning and team building. The teams and their coaches enthusiastically and courageously faced each challenge and obstacle as they worked together encouraging each other to accomplish goals and build team unity. The head volleyball coach e-mailed: “It was great! We definitely will do it again and make it part of our conditioning next year. Thank you so much.”

Mentoring

When Pastor Aaron Christy of Clen-Moore Presbyterian Church recommended that the 1-to-1 mentoring program at Cray Youth and Family Services check out the Ultimate Challenge Obstacle Course at Bill Rudge Ministries for a group activity, Program Director Allisyn Wolfe was glad to do so. Each mentor is paired with a child between the ages of 6 and 18 to be a positive role model and friend. Mentoring works to support children as they overcome obstacles, rely on other people, and rise to new challenges; so this was a perfect place to experience all those things.

The obstacle course provided opportunities for the youth to not only meet physical challenges but also to develop attributes such as trust, like when they were blindfolded and had to walk across a log aided by the adults or were guided along a path holding each other’s hands carefully following the leader’s instructions. Their listening skills were honed, remembering the detailed directions given at each obstacle. Bill encouraged the youth to try things they had never done before. Allisyn stated, “The most gratifying part for me was seeing the kids (and some of the mentors) who were reluctant to try things at first ending up being proud of their accomplishments. We always enjoy the activities and the way Bill presents them.”

Special thanks to Bruce Adams, Darlinda McDonald, Bob Mild, Eric Nehlen, Mike Roy, Anneka, BJ, Lucas and Moriah Rudge, and Lily and Caeleana Smith for assisting Bill with the obstacle course this past summer.

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