Summer is not over yet, however…

9 09 2011

School is starting back up in our community and many of our programs at the River House are coming to a seasonal end.  The time has come where we are welcoming in our Fall programs and see the “ramping up” of other activities that provide people a space to be outside, active, and engaged.

Engaged is a large word in my vocabulary. It is one of those words that can mean many things to many people.  When I, or someone else, asks, “How are you engaged in [BLANK]?” The answer to that question can have a lot of emotions, thoughts, reflections, and actions associated with it. 

  • Within us and how we challenge ourselves to learn new things, or to be put into new situations or environments.
  • With others around us, how we support others, encourage others to participate, join in, or share in the work being done.
  • In the activity or the task at hand. To be committed to the struggles, the success, and how what we do now can be valuable to us tomorrow.

How each person in the group approaches ways to be engaged, and to what level, can be a large factor in how a group will define success. 

Recently the staff of Churchill High School challenged themselves to participate in a half day program at the Spencer Butte Challenge Course. Out of the 60 staff members some had previously participated in a similar type of event, others had not; one had no idea what I was talking about when I said “Challenge Course.”

For a group with this many people, one of the challenges as a facilitator is creating a program where everyeone is invited and wants to be engaged.  With large groups, if someone wants to stand in the background, they can.  After all, there are plenty of other people who will do the work, complete the challenge, and I did not have to experience any risk. (Risk – another large word!!)

What I experienced on the challenge course was a group of people who engaged in conversation with each other.  By doing so, new voices were heard, ideas were tried, people were supported, and solutions were developed.  I saw people engage in activities.  They stepped out onto cables, held onto ropes, acted like werewolves, pretended to cross vast swaps, walked across platforms, and worked together to solve the challenges placed in front of them.  At times, problems were briefly thought to be too difficult, however the staff chose to stay engaged, and in so doing, demonstrated that solution-minded people can prevail in the face of struggles and challenges. 

I thanked the entire staff for a day that looked, sounded, and felt like 60 people engaged in an activity that created both the potential to enhance their trainings before school started, and the opportunity to invest in each other.  It was delightful to watch teachers choose to engage in activities, where the outcome was not known, in such a way, that as a teacher they would want their students to engage.

Congratulations to the staff at Churchill Hill High School and may you have a year of positive engagements!

Here are some pictures of the event, courtesy of Lance Eagen. (


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