Ultimate Challenge Obstacle Course

How It All Started

Bill Rudge started developing obstacle courses for the youth soccer teams he coached, which have morphed and expanded over the years. The current course was built by many volunteers – primarily using natural materials such as logs and tree stumps. Dick Hetrick and other volunteers cut down trees on-site, then crafted them for the various challenges. Throw in some car, truck, and tractor tires, ropes, and over-sized monkey bars, as well as a balance beam and wall (built by South Py Community Church) and you have the Ultimate Challenge Obstacle Course at Bill Rudge Ministries (BRM). Several individuals, businesses, churches and organizations volunteer their time, talents, and resources toward maintenance, while others assist Bill in running it.

Challenging Youth & Adults to Reach their Maximum Potential

Bill and BJ Rudge have set up Obstacle Courses and provided specialized training for individuals and groups in school and church gymnasiums and outside fields – locally, across the U.S. and abroad – since 1986. The permanent Obstacle Course at BRM provides many opportunities to train sports teams, youth groups, church groups, military personnel and new recruits, mission teams preparing for upcoming trips, Scouts, children, teens, adults and families – all free of charge. Over the years Bill has invented several recreational and sports activities which have been published in various magazines and are incorporated into some of his training regimen.

Various rigorous training routines have been designed by Bill to help prepare new recruits for the challenges that lie ahead at boot camp and beyond. An Army Recruiting Sergeant reported that his soldiers and new recruits loved it and were soaked with sweat – just what he wanted. A Navy Petty Officer said the exercises were great; that the sailors and future sailors really enjoyed it. A Marine Recruiting Sergeant said the course was challenging in multiple ways and that his future Marines had a great time. Some who trained on the BRM Obstacle Course were preparing to try out for the Navy Seals and other Special Forces while others were conditioning to try out for American Ninja.

Bill customizes every obstacle course adventure to meet specific needs, goals and levels of intensity for each group. Typically, groups are scheduled for 60 to 120 minutes. The shorter time includes mainly the obstacle course while the additional time involves innovative drills, relay races, recreational or sports activities, and individual or team competitions.

Assistants help Bill and BJ lead participants through the multifaceted course where they face a variety of physical and mental challenges and choices. The obstacle course is great for motivating youth and adults to step out of their comfort zones and for Team Building – improving communication, producing leadership skills, promoting teamwork, instilling cooperation, and enhancing trust and encouragement of each other as groups take on challenges and reach goals together.

Workouts on the obstacle course are interspersed with verbal coaching by Bill or BJ who interject motivational and inspirational comments on such concepts as: attitude, choices, confidence, commitment, courage, determination, discipline, faith, life-balance, loyalty, nutrition, respect, and self-control (all biblical principles) with the intended purpose of challenging youth and adults to reach their maximum potential: Physically, by developing upper and lower body strength, agility, balance, control, and endurance. Mentally, in remembering the required exercises and options at each station while developing problem-solving skills to make necessary adjustments based on the circumstances. Emotionally, by rising above one’s fears to meet challenges with a positive attitude and confidence. Spiritually, Bill shares his personal experience in discovering true strength; talks with them about how skills developed on the obstacle course can be used in life, and gives copies of his books to those who request them.

Many notes, letters and e-mail from coaches, players, youth leaders and others testify to the fun, challenge and life lessons gained through the obstacle course experience.

In Pursuit of a Dream

By Darlinda McDonald

Carson (left) was commended by the Navy Chief and the Commander for training Navy recruits and providing them transportation for several weeks before he himself left for Boot Camp.
Carson standing on top of a climbing obstacle at BRM. He has hurled many obstacles and excelled in making great accomplishments.
Michael, Carson and Lucas with some of the Cub Scouts they led through the BRM obstacle course last summer.
Carson (on left) leading the Sharpsville Varsity Soccer Team through “Black Tire Pain” – one of the hardest challenges at the BRM obstacle course.

Carson (Bill and Karen Rudge’s grandson) was born in San Diego one month after 9/11. His family moved to Pennsylvania several years later. Carson graduated from high school during the coronavirus. A dedicated athlete, he played soccer for the Riverhounds in Pittsburgh and played in soccer tournaments across the country as well as in Italy. At age 18, Carson turned down a scholarship to play soccer in college to pursue his dream of special military service in the Navy.

Carson has been a great blessing to Bill Rudge Ministries for many years. He helped Bill with school assemblies, defense clinics, and the obstacle course for sports teams and military recruits, as well as assisting with grounds maintenance, mail pick-up, delivering clothes, school supplies and household items to local missions and ministries, and loading trucks with boxes of books, sports jerseys, soccer balls, school supplies, etc. for delivery to Third World countries. Carson has been willing to help in any way needed at BRM. He also mentored several peers, assisted an injured Vietnam Vet by moving furniture, doing yard work and various other projects. He delivered and moved furniture for Building of Hope to those in need and for several elderly people.

Carson is greatly missed by family, friends and BRM staff and volunteers. He continues to support the ministry by having a portion of his pay from the Navy automatically given to BRM. We pray God’s protection for this young man of excellence, a consistent and valued volunteer – never charging anyone for anything he did to help.

Bill’s Advice To Carson Before Boot Camp

“Always remember the tetherball battles, hockey games, boxing, obstacle course, sleeping on our couch and borrowing my clothes.

“Always remember, Carson Brock, that you were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26). Never forget that He loves you so much He died for you (John 3:16). Realize that Jesus will forgive anything if you ask (1 John 1:9).

“Rejoice that your name is written in the Book of Life and one day you will rule and reign with Christ (Revelation 20:6). You may have some lonely times but He will never leave you or forsake you (Matthew 28:20).

“Have faith, courage, determination, discipline and integrity because you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13).

“There will be challenges and difficulties but God will use them to make you strong and work everything out for good (Romans 8:28).

“Through it all you will be molded into the man He intended you to be (Romans 8:29). In the end you will look back and know the truth of God’s Word and that He honors those who honor Him (1 Samuel 2:30).

“One day we will never have to say goodbye again. Stay safe, healthy and close to Jesus. And never, ever forget how much I love you. I am so proud to have you as a grandson!”

Papa Bill

Navy Recruits Meet the Challenge

by Darlinda McDonald

On a Saturday morning this Fall, Navy Chief Steve Ware brought 16 enthusiastic Navy recruits to the Ultimate Challenge Obstacle Course at Bill Rudge Ministries, for a grueling two and a half hour workout led by Chaplain Bill Rudge with assistance by three of his grandchildren, Moriah, Anneka, and Lucas. Overseeing the training with Chief Ware were Petty Officer First Class Ryan Perry and Petty Officer Second Class Lindsey Orosz.

During the physical training, each recruit was encouraged to put forth their best effort regardless of their ability. Equally important to the individual challenge was the emphasis on teamwork. Chaplain Rudge also reminded the recruits to be mindful of their emotional and spiritual health in order to keep their lives in balance and to reach their maximum potential. It was inspiring to observe all of the recruits tackle each obstacle with vigor and a positive spirit. After completing the course twice, each recruit had the privilege of ringing the victory bell in congratulations for their excellent efforts. We are blessed to be one of a very few ministries that has access to the schools and the opportunity to work with and train military personnel.

Cub Scouts Meet the Challenge of the Obstacle Course

By Darlinda McDonald

Last month, members of Cub Scout Pack 3 of Sharon were ready to face the challenge. They were very excited as they approached the “Ultimate Challenge Obstacle and Fitness Course” at Bill Rudge Ministries.

Before leading the scouts through the course, Bill Rudge began the evening with “Coronavirus Kickball, Soccer Style.” He invented the game to help maintain as much social distancing as possible for the scouts. Similar to baseball, the field used tires for bases. Each player who was up would kick the ball and run to the bases while the team in the field retrieved the large “soccer ball” with their feet and tried to kick the ball to touch any of the four tires before the person running was safe on one of the bases. The referees on both sides judged whether the scout was safe or out.

Next up was the obstacle course, which had been recently renovated. The scouts partnered with their parents as they navigated each obstacle after attentively listening to Rudge’s instructions. They climbed, they crawled, they jumped, and they strove to keep their balance as they met each challenge. Their determination, positive attitude and a willingness to try each obstacle, even if feeling a little hesitant, was inspiring. It was enjoyable to lead this group of young boys as they persevered through the course. As each scout completed the final obstacle, they raced to the course entrance with a big smile on their face to clang the large silver bell.

The obstacle course provides awesome opportunities to challenge children, teens, and adults. It is used to teach and train various youth and adult groups, scouts, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, sports teams, civic and church groups, and the military (Army, Navy, Marines) as well as those preparing for basic training, all at no charge.

Power Fasting

Bill Rudge

At the beginning of January, Karen and I fast for a week or more as we pray through our Personal, Family, and Ministry Prayer and Fasting lists. This is an intense; special time of prayer and Scripture study to seek the Lord’s direction and goals for the coming year.

Similar to the principle of lifting weights, I tear myself down physically, emotionally and spiritually through fasting – only to be rebuilt – stronger for the new year. Along with the tremendous spiritual benefits, there are some amazing physical and mental benefits.

At the age of 30 my health was eroding. The indulgent, injurious lifestyle of my younger years were catching up with me. So I prayed, “Lord, if You want me to continue in the ministry, I need Your help.” I am convinced that the Lord honored that earnest prayer by leading me into fasting and nutrition. As a result, I have seen tremendous benefits in obeying His biblical principles of health and fitness.

Many Christians and Christian leaders needlessly suffer from the consequences of being undisciplined, overindulgent and from violating God’s natural health laws. God is calling for a body of believers who will not only serve Him wholeheartedly but also walk in discipline and self-control. Remember, we are not to be mastered by anything or anyone but Him.

Throughout Scripture, the people of God have faced insurmountable circumstances and obstacles. When they humbled themselves and sought the Lord with all their hearts, through prayer and fasting, He intervened in miraculous ways.

I can testify that what was written in the Bible thousands of years ago is true because I have witnessed the God of the Bible do some awesome things in my life and ministry. I have documented in my personal records numerous accounts of supernatural intervention in the midst of impossible situations, and recorded many of the lessons the Lord has taught me. The Impossible (a record of my life and ministry) and Adventures In Missions (a record of my mission trips) are laced with miraculous accounts of what has occurred as a result of fasting, prayer, faith and obedience.

Bill’s e-book, Fasting for Sensitivity and Power is available free of charge at billrudge.org or for purchase at amazon.com.

Brain Health and Sugar

David Perlmutter, M.D. is America’s Brain Health Expert. He advocates following an anti-inflammatory diet for a healthier brain by avoiding sugar and processed carbs, particularly those containing gluten. He encourages us to consume more healthy natural fats that are vital for a healthy brain, along with plenty of fresh organic vegetables rich in protective antioxidants and other essential brain nutrients. (Dawn Thorpe Jarvis, Extraordinary Health, Vol. 33)

Considering the many health problems clearly linked to added sugar, including diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease, cutting out simple sugars makes sense. (“Ask The Doctors”, The Herald, 2/6/19)

Marines Get Down and Dirty

Gunnery Sergeant Michael Kaufman recently coordinated a group of 35 Marine Recruits (from the Pittsburgh, Hermitage, New Castle and Cranberry areas) and four other Recruiting Sergeants to bring them to the Bill Rudge Ministries’ Ultimate Challenge Obstacle Course. Bill Rudge led them through two hours of intense training, challenges and competition for the recruits. Helpers Teenie Blystone, Dick Hetrick, Joshua Lozier, Ken Ridgley, BJ Rudge, Lucas Rudge and Moriah Rudge aided in various ways . The recruits, some soon to leave for boot camp, were under the watchful eye of the five Recruiting Sergeants. The participants enthusiastically rose to the challenge of the course.

Bill Rudge has run this obstacle course free of charge for many youth and adult groups and organizations such as high school athletic teams, church groups, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Army, Navy, Marines and Mission Teams. Bill adjusts the level of intensity for each group’s specific goals and circumstances.

Ultimate Challenge Obstacle Course

Kennedy Catholic Girls’ Soccer Team make their way through the Ultimate Challenge Obstacle Course at Bill Rudge Ministries.

Kennedy Catholic Girls’ Soccer Team

Bill and family, Thank you very much for having the KC soccer team at your obstacle course [last summer]. Thank you also for your family of volunteers. The girls and coaches really learned from the experience. – Coach A. M.

Comments from players:

I really enjoyed the challenges during the course. – L. L.

I really enjoyed The Wall. It really helped our team trust another more. – R. P.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to bond and get to know everyone better through your course. – G. L.

Thank you for teaching us lifelong lessons! – B. L.

I really enjoyed the team building experience you gave us. – A. D.

Thanks for having us. I really enjoyed the course and challenging myself. – K. P.

Thank you for teaching us how to physically challenge ourselves and for teaching us life lessons! It was so fun! – A. M.

This year’s Obstacle Course opens Wednesday, May 1, with a group of Cub Scouts. For more pictures and information about the Obstacle Course, visit the website billrudge.org/ministries/ultimatechallengeobstaclecourse.

Facing Challenges with Enthusiasm

by Darlinda McDonald

DSC_0002Despite the predicted thunderstorms, the Hickory Girls Varsity Soccer team arrived to blue skies at the Bill Rudge Ministries Ultimate Challenge & Obstacle Fitness Course last week. As usual, Bill began the session instructing the team about safety as well as life lessons that they would learn as they traversed the course. The girls attacked each station with great enthusiasm even when faced with difficult challenges. Teamwork was emphasized as they helped each other scale “the wall” and went through numerous stations to develop agility, balance, endurance, strength and courage, then laughed their way through the “blanket chariot race,” refrigerator box, and tug-of-war games.

BRM has coordinated the obstacle course activities for many school athletic teams, mission and youth groups, military personnel and other organizations as well as families. For more information and pictures visit the Ultimate Challenge Obstacle & Fitness Course on our web site at http://www.billrudge.org.