By brian blostica

Eastern has just become home to a new state-of-the-art rope challenge course. The course is to be shared by the university, the Department of Criminal Justice Training and the community. According to Charles Everett, assistant professor of leisure studies, the course has both low elements and a high course, which is about 25 feet in the air.

The course also has a six-sided climbing tower, with 12 climbing stations, making the course available for multi-person use. The stations are rock-like structures, akin to rock climbing simulations, Everett said.

Everett said that plans for the course began about two years ago with Lt. Col. Brett Morris, chair of Eastern’s department of military science, as a way to serve the department in preparing for internships and further training.

Challenge course coordinator Rick Lewis said many different groups, such as the ROTC, the women’s volleyball team and other college sports groups from Berea and Centre College, as well as community corporations, have expressed interest in using the course.

So far, the course is getting high marks from those who have used it. Student Government Association members used the course as a retreat this past weekend.

“I loved it, personally,” said SGA president Nick Bertram. “I liked it because it gave us the opportunity to work outside our usual environment, giving us the chance to work together toward common goals and building up camaraderie. “

Lewis sees the future of the course as continuing to be a great learning tool for the university.

Also, he believes that it will be a momentum builder for not only the university, but for the Richmond community as well.

Everett also hopes the new course will be a recruitment tool for the leisure studies department. As a result, REC 190, a one-hour class, is being offered on the course and is open to any major.

Everett said that while most people fear injury on the high elements, more injuries occur on the lower course, where people are more likely to underestimate danger and have a lower perceived risk.

Still, injuries on challenge courses aren’t common.

“Challenge courses tend to have a very low personal injury, especially when compared to team sports,” Everett said.

The course was designed by Eastern graduate Tom Domeck’s firm, Experimental Resources Inc. in Bloomington, Ind.

Groups wanting to schedule a round on the course should contact Lewis at 622-1217.