Gym Class Heroes: Problem Adventure?

Project Adventure elements lay unused, absent of students this year.
Project Adventure elements lay unused, absent of students this year.

By: Kitty H

Project Adventure, the gym class devoted to team building and problem-solving, received a makeover this year. While normally change is a good thing, some students think it is not for the better.

Senior Olivia I. took Project Adventure twice during her junior year, and “had a ton of fun.” Most people, Olivia said, “genuinely [liked] climbing and were excited to be out on the elements every day.”

Senior Madison H. was one of those people. Madison said, “Normally [gym] is a stress releaser, and I find joy in climbing up trees, walking across wires and overcoming obstacles.” The Project Adventure course offered in the past gave students a chance to build trust through high-stress situations. The high elements courses were a favorite, with some students calling it a “thrill,” or a “rush.” Olivia said that with each obstacle came an apprehension and fear that was satisfying to conquer.

Project Adventure offered a different type of athleticism to students, and those who were not thrilled with the intensity of Team Sports or severity of Sports Strength and Conditioning had an option that taxed both their bodies and minds. Olivia said, “In team sports, I found that I didn’t have a lot of fun because I didn’t want to try really hard like some of my classmates… In contrast, PA requires no running while still offering a fair amount of exercise, plus it was fun figuring out how to conquer the obstacles or [our] a fear [and] apprehension.” The combination of learned skills and working together gave students a feeling of accomplishment that followed them for the rest of the day.

However, this year students were met with a different type of class. Whereas before a regular class would consist of getting equipment and proceeding to use it at the elements, courses, this year there is nothing of the sort. Senior Aubrey L. said, “Sophomore year was a lot better than this year because now, instead of climbing, we spend our time playing team building games.”

With the loss of the teacher who was certified in overseeing the high elements courses, the school has had to make large changes to the program. Mr. Stoddard was brought out of retirement to oversee the classes. Stoddard said, “Because we are not doing high elements class has been restructured. Most of class is based on project adventure activities that try to get everyone working together and liking each other.”

Aubrey said, “[Some students] chose project adventure because [they] took it sophomore year… [and] really enjoyed it. Sophomore year we got to use all of the outdoor high elements and [we] thought that we would be able to do the same this year, but that was not the case.” Junior Thea Ba. also thought the class was better in previous years. Thea said “now we only walk around, there’s no more ‘project adventure’ this year.”

A new concern this year is the games that the students play. Junior MC S. said one of the PA games was “dangerous” and “left me limping for days.” MC S. switched out of PA this year because “I couldn’t handle the class.”

Stoddard understands students’ complaints and is trying to create a successful class for everyone. However, this is difficult, as he said, “Project Adventure is new to me, [I’m] learning on the fly.”

Both students and teachers are adjusting to some of the challenges that Project Adventure has brought this year, such as the space issue caused by losing the mini gym. Most days the classes “[use] whatever unoccupied room [they] can find, such as the hallway, the Steele gym, or outside if the weather is nice,” said Madison.

Also, the distance from the elements courses creates another problem. Even if there was a teacher certified to teach the course, the long walk from the new school would make the course virtually impossible to get to. In class, students were told that even if there was a certified teacher, they would not be doing the elements because of the distance. Gym teachers said that between walking over to the course, setting up, breaking down, and walking back to school, only one student would be able to climb per day.

Another challenge faced this year is the effort of the students. Stoddard himself even said that “[while] most students are giving a consistent effort… I [expected] a little better effort.”

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