Indian Creek Recreation Area completes new challenge course

After three months of reconstruction, the Indian Creek Lodge at Stone Mountain has reopened their high ropes challenge course for students and faculty at Georgia State.

The Challenge program, first started in 1985, has since been used as a way for the students and faculty of Georgia State to build trust, communication and friendship with their peers.

Picture 281[1]The high ropes course gives student groups such as clubs, fraternities/sororities, and Freshman Learning Communities the chance to work together and form bonds.

“Rather than just accepting package A, B, or C, we developed and came up with package Y. We did an a la carte menu and put together what we believe is an incredible ropes course,” Tortorige said.

The course is made primarily of 36 telephone poles used for climbing. Participants begin in the center and can take various routes throughout the course. Many different elements, or challenges, are faced along the way all of which involve teamwork. Ways to end the course include a canopy zip line tour sixty-five feet high in a tree looking down on Snapfinger creek.

“It truly is a unique course. There are other ropes courses in Atlanta but no ropes course like this,” Director of Recreational Services Scott Levin said.

The funding for the ropes course came primarily from student fees which are $1,064 for each student. The ropes course Picture 100[1]project totaled $150,000 in costs and was paid for by student fee money that had been kept on reserve.

The Challenge Program hopes to improve these numbers further with the new high ropes course. Retired Associate Director of Recreation John Krafka and Carson Tortorige visited many high ropes courses in the area before designing the course for Indian Creek.

“This is an absolute steal for most ropes courses,” Carson Tortorige said. “With all the bells and whistles that the course has, the beautiful setting, the design of the course, the versatility, we have a course that’s not only worth much more in actual construction value, but also an absolutely amazing masterpiece.”

Ultimately, the designers  of the new high ropes course believe this can keep students from  dropping out of school by creating a sense of belonging on campus. “One component of student attrition, for students dropping out, is  the inability to adapt to campus life. This type of program, this type  of experiential education, does help students adapt to campus life,”  Challenge Program coordinator, Carson Tortorige, said. “In the long  term, student attrition is our number one goal. This is a hugely useful  tool for that.”

Georgia State’s recent graduating class of 2013 set the six year graduation rate to 53 percent,  an increase of 21 points in ten years, with a total of 83 percent of  students returning their sophomore year.

President Mark Becker  attributed these improvements to the many programs at Georgia State that  work to improve student success in his 2013 State of the University  Address.

“It is not only the exceptional breadth of our programs  addressing the many issues faced by students that is moving the needle  on student success,” he said. “It is also their scale.”