“You’ve got a rope bro?” I remember asking a new instructor.
“No man. I don’t think I will be needing it for this trip. The route seems rather flat plus it is just going to be a walk. No need for activities.”
I just smiled, recalling the many times when I was glad that I brought my 10 metres of rope along. “
“Its alright,” I told myself. “He’ll see how the rope could be one of his best ‘friends’ out there.”
Ropes and the outdoors are mutually related. There are many uses of ropes that many novice instructors seldom consider. (Let me correct that. Sometimes I do that too!)
5 Uses of Ropes in Outdoor Adventure Programmes
You’ll seldom see images of rescue personnel without a rope sling across their body. Personally, I experienced trekking along ridge lines and one clumsy participant dropped his equipment down the slope.
I’ve also had one throw off her bag down the cliff as a sign of frustration. Just leave the bag down there? I wish bro. There comes my rope which I tied to a tree as an anchor. I could use it assist me going down or up or for the participants to haul the bag up. I was so proud of my rope!
2. Emergency Shelter
A handful of times, we were caught in a storm during our kayak expeditions. The safest option was to head to any nearest beach.
Kayaks safe, equipment and people accounted. But the tap above did not seem to be turned off. We had to erect a shelter fastest to prevent the cold from seeping in. (You’ll be amazed at how you could get hypothermia even in the tropics!)
My rope came out again and tied to the nearest two trees and a groundsheet thrown over. Anchor the corners or use 4 human ground pegs. Everyone took cover under it. We sure had pretty good bonding time there!
3. Towing A Canoe/ Kayak
Before I became an instructor, I had this flawed image of participants happily paddling during kayak expeditions. Yes, things will be smooth if the elements are in favour.
But once the tide turns, the wind starts blowing and fatigue seeps in, you’ll know that it might be too much for some of your participants.
You can try encouraging them but there is a limit. You might need to tow some of them at some point.
(Surely, it’ll be smart to use a proper towing line if you have. Else, any rope will do as long as the job gets done)
4. Securing Equipment
Having a long rope, about 10 metres long, 5-7mm diameter is certainly strong and long enough to lash down your equipment to your canoe, raft or sailboat. It could be hazardous when the equipment come rolling down on you as the boat rocks or gets tossed around!
5. Teambuilding Activities
A last great use of ropes in the outdoors is as a prop for teambuilding games. Off my mind are the following activities: blindfold square and blind man’s trail.
Injecting suitable activities in outdoor programmes at strategic points could amplify your participants’ learning. You could use it to revisit some past learning points or “mood-set” them for the next major activities.Height Activities
6. Height Activities
Another synonymous usage of ropes in outdoor adventure programes is in height activities. Some common height activities include climbing and abseiling. When I was still a newbie, the ropes used in these activities appeared the same. However, I soon learnt that the ropes used are different. For example, climbing activities will use dynamic ropes whereas abseiling uses static ropes.
7. Negotiating Dangerous Terrains/ Linking Up
Ropes are also useful during expeditions such as when the group have to negotiate risky terrains. Examples include steep cliffs. Similar to sport climbing or abseiling activities, team members could be lowered safely using a quick body belay set-up. If there are sufficient resources, a proper anchor could be set-up using belay devices.
8. Clothes/ Equipment Hanging Line
Talk about creativity. Your 10 metres rope will be very handy at the campsite at night. It could be used as a hanging line to dry your clothes or equipment In some cases, you could also hang your food to be out of reach from insects or pests (provided you tie it high enough).
I used to simply drape my clothes over my tent only to find them wet from the morning dew (smart eh?).
For those who love trekking in jungles and forests, you may have always come across rivers. Some rivers might appear harmless but do not underestimate their underwater current.
You could send a strong swimmer, tied to the rope, across the river. He or she could then anchor the rope around a sturdy tree. The rope could now be used as a handrail for the team members to cross the river safely. The last person will need to swim or could be pull by the teammates across the river.
10. Anchoring a Boat
For those who manage or supervise sea expeditions, a common task at the end of the day will be to ensure the safety boats are safe. This requires the crafts to be anchored.
If you have spare ropes long enough to reach the shore, the boat’s stern could be tied to some tree on land, forming a Mediterranean-style of anchoring.