FOCUS Through Adventure

FOCUS: Finding Our Community and Understanding Self

Challenge Ropes Course in Saco, Maine

The FOCUS Challenge Course is located in Southern Maine among the beautiful woods on the Sweetser campus in Saco, Maine. Donna Murray, Director of FOCUS through Adventure, operates the course in conjunction with her programs. Many local schools, summer recreational departments, businesses, and corporations from around the area have utilized the challenge course for team development.

For more info or Ropes Course reservations, please contact:
Donna Murray, Director

All Skill Levels Welcome

The ropes course has different levels of development. Groups will work on cooperative field initiatives first, then onto low ropes course initiatives, and then to the high ropes course elements. The ropes course is available for school outings or any group wanting a team challenge.

  • Low Ropes Course Initiatives
    • The low ropes course is designed for participants to build upon previous gains in problem solving, establishing individual goals, and group goals, effectively communicating feelings, enhancing leadership skills, cooperating and compromising, developing trust within oneself and the group, taking risks through the encouragement and support of the group, while attending to safety and having fun.
    • We have 15 low element initiatives that range from a 6 ft x 12 ft wooden teeter totter, to lengths of cale secured between trees with multiple traversing ropes to assist crossing the cable, to physically supporting participants through a suspended spider-like web without touching, to ascending a 12 foot wooden wall and more.
    • The low ropes course is a flexible tool because it can provide challenge and enjoyment to all types of groups. The choices the facilitator makes in briefing the element, to level of challenge, to assessing groups stage of development and readiness, to debriefing the experience is what makes the adventure meaningful for the group.
  • High Ropes Course Initiatives
    • The objective of the High Ropes Course is to provide activites and initiatives whereby participation is somewhat more individualistic and challenges participants to develop persistence and a resistance to frustration in attempting to reach a goal. The transfer of cooperative group work, clear communication skills, setting goals, trust, and support that was experienced on the low course is exemplified on the high course.
    • Our high course has approximately 15 elements of varying challenges and of varying designs. The elements are all static belay, traversing and non-traversing, and range in height of 25 feet to 40 feet. Some elements are for single person climb and others are two person climb. All climbs are accessed from the ground. The course is built in a pine wood grove, using cable and a static belay system. Participants are taught the safety procedures for belaying, which is the technique where a team of participants, using a belay device, tighten the climbing rope as the person(s) ascends the element. All participants wear universal harnesses and helmets and are provided all safety procedures prior to climbing.
    • Participants are required to sign a release of liability waiver and medical disclosure. All information is confidential.
    • Examples of our high ropes course elements:
      • Cat Walk: A one person climb. A log is suspended between two trees and the participant ascends the tree, then walks across the log and is lowered down.
      • Zip Line: One person climbs 40 feet to a platform where the facilitator will clip you into the zip pulley belay. The participant steps off the platform and zips across the field for approximately 350 feet. The zip line is gravity fed and the participant will gradually rest midway on cable and is taken off element with assist from the ground.
      • Dangle Duo: A two person climb. Here two participants ascend a ladder made of five or six, 4 x 4’s hung apart. The goal is to utilize each others strength to ascend the ladder together.
      • Pamper Plank (leap of faith): One person climb. Here, the participant reaches a platform and leaps to hit a suspended bouy about six feet in front of them. It is metaphorically called the “leap of faith” because participant is free falling for a few seconds before the static belay tigthens the slack and then participant is lowered to ground.

Building Trust and Connections

  • Field initiatives build connections within the group, establishing behavioral norms and a level of trust.
  • Low ropes, where personal risk is a factor, heightens the necessity of communication, support and trust within the group.
  • High ropes challenge becomes a celebration of the group work so that every individual can experience powerful success.

Team Development & Team Building for Youth

FOCUS through Adventure provides customized programs that will help teams develop and enhance their communication, identify behaviors necessary to function as a team, and identify individual strengths and skills. A core component of team development is for groups to define the norms of behavior that will drive them to function as a high performance team. Through this process participants will enhance their work relationships as key learnings are easily transferred back to the workplace.

Our consultants may introduce a behavioral inventory like the DiSC Personal Profile System to help participants understand their own work styles and those of others. This information can be the common language with which to develop healthier working relationships and the norms of behavior for their team.

Ropes Course Safety

The ropes course is routinely inspected and certified by Project Adventure, Inc. from Beverly, Massachusetts. Project Adventure is one of the leading international training organizations in Experiential Education. Along with continual safety inspection and updating of equipment, FOCUS through Adventure also maintains national safety standards and protocol for its participants.

FOCUS facilitators are all trained and certified to operate a challenge course. All ropes course facilitators maintain First Aid and CPR certification.

Sampling of Our Youth Clients

  • Deering High School Varsity Girls Soccer, Portland
  • Westbrook Teen Adventure Program, Westbrook
  • Lyman Moore Middle School 7th Grade, Lyman
  • Kennebunk Beach Improvement Association, Kennebunk
  • Gray-New Gloucester Varsity Girls Soccer Team, Gray
  • Gorham, New Hampshire Varsity Girls Soccer Team
  • York Varsity Girls Soccer Team, York
  • Thornton Academy Varsity Boys Soccer Team, Saco
  • The Compass School, Westminster, VT
  • Coastal Studies for Girls, Freeport
  • USM Upward Bound, Portland
  • Kennebunkport Parks and Recreation, Kennebunkport
  • Breakwater School, Portland
  • Berwick Academy, South Berwick 
  • Velocity Soccer Club, Saco  

“I think this program is so ‘right’ for our kids – developmentally, socially, physically and in every other important area of their lives. Thank you for doing such great work with our kids this year!”

- Jane McNeely, 4th grade teacher, Brown Elementary School, South Portland