Grand Valley Challenge Course: Students turn an idea into a positive change in the community | PostIndependent.com

Grand Valley Challenge Course: Students turn an idea into a positive change in the community

Sierra Keif , a junior at Grand Valley High School is pulled into place on the big swing during Tuesday’s grand opening of the Grand Valley Challenge Course in Battlement Mesa.
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Garfield District 16 and Parachute/Battlement Mesa Park and Recreation District officials welcomed local residents, business owners and students as they turned out under threatening skies Tuesday to get the first look at the Grand Valley Challenge Course in Battlement Mesa.

Garfield District 16 and Parachute/Battlement Mesa Park and Recreation District officials welcomed local residents, business owners and students as they turned out under threatening skies Tuesday to get the first look at the Grand Valley Challenge Course in Battlement Mesa.

From low-slung obstacles near the bark-covered ground to a soaring ropes course set high in the blue sky of the small western Colorado town, the new high and low ropes course offers new challenges for the community.

Now that it’s opened, trained staff will soon be guiding Garfield 16 students throughout the course, focusing on team and confidence building. The course will eventually be available for the broader community. 

The project two years in the making arose from an idea from District 16 Superintendent Brad Ray. 

“Originally Mr. Ray reached out with this crazy idea he had that might not work, and we kind of just went with it,” Sierra Keif, a junior at Grand Valley High School, said.

In fall 2017, 30 students accepted the call from Superintendent Ray to help plan, poll residents, apply for grants and pick a contractor to build a high and low ropes course in the Grand Valley.

“It was definitely a lot of blind dedication: ‘No matter what we run into I’m going to keep pushing until it’s a definite “No, it’s not happening.”’ No matter what’s going on I’m making time for this. It was just one of those things you have to go all in or not at all,” GVHS junior Tyler Miller said.

Out of the 30 students that began the project, Keif and Miller were the only two that were able to stick with the project till the end.

“Just talking to the students (Keif and Miller) it’s a sense of pride, it’s amazing what they’ve been able to accomplish and how much they really have learned from and gained from it, that’s awesome,” Ray said.

“That’s what the course is about.”

Keif said she originally came into the project not being able to speak to people she didn’t know, but through the many stages of the project she is able to freely talk with people she had just met.

“I feel comfortable saying my opinions and giving input on how we can make the community better, and it’s really nice,” Keif said.

Clint Whitley, Outdoor Education Coordinator for District 16, said the overall cost of the project came in at $210,000.

Seventy percent of the cost was paid through a grant from the Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District, while Garfield School District 16 and Parachute/Battlement Mesa Park and Recreation District paid the other 30%.

“I was just standing under it and looking up. It is such a surreal feeling because there were so many people that dropped off and quit. The temptation was very real throughout the entire project to give up and walk away, but now that it’s done I couldn’t be happier with the amount of effort they we put in,” Miller said.

“Its been my goal as long as I’ve been in school to try and get out and make a change. I didn’t care what it was, as long as it was to make a change for the positive.”

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Members of the Parachute and Battlement Mesa community check out the new High and low ropes course as Garfield District 16 shows off the Grand Valley Challenege Course during Tuesday grand opening in Battlement Mesa.
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Sierra Keif , a junior at Grand Valley High School swings into the blue sky on big swing during Tuesday’s grand opening of the Grand Valley Challenge Course in Battlement Mesa.
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Jed Johnston, pastor at Grace Bible Church, and Nate Voorhees, from Grand Valley Fire, try to hold on as they lose their balance and fall on one of the ropes courses Tuesday.
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Tyler ?, a junior at Grand Valley High School, tests out the high ropes course Tuesday afternoon in Battlement Mesa.
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Clint Whitley, outdoor education coordinator with Garfield Dist. 16, talks about the key features of the Grand Valley Challenege Course.
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kmills@postindependent.com


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