It might be only the second year that we’ve held LAUNCH Kinect, our week-long summer program that serves as an extension of our High School Entrepreneurship Program (a big shout out to the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, Footprint Foundation, FSG Bank, and the rest of our youth program sponsors), but I already know what my favorite activity is: the ropes course and zip-lining at Ruby Falls.
LAUNCH Kinect focuses on additional entrepreneurial skills beyond what students learn during the school year with us. During this week students visit various businesses in the downtown Chattanooga area to connect with positive and influential business leaders, as well as participate in various team building activities, one of which is the Ruby Falls ZIPstream Aerial Adventure.
While this activity may sound like fun and games, it is so much more. I serve as the designated (amateur) photographer for LAUNCH and make sure to catch the ziplining event, not only to capture the action, but also to capture the team building and compassion the students show one another.
As they make their way through the course there is often a backup of the line since each obstacle is a little more daunting than the last. Despite the frequent delays, there is never any frustration for being held up or having to wait...I witness students patiently waiting for each other before moving on, offering words of support and cheering for one another as they make their way through the treetops.
This year, I watched one girl who was fearful about walking across a particular log that didn’t have any ropes at her side to hang onto for balance support. On the opposite end ahead of her was a student encouraging her, telling her that she could do it even if her mind was telling her otherwise. Once she finally got up the nerve, she took four steps out and froze. After being paralyzed with fear for about a minute, the student that had been waiting in line behind her realized she wasn’t going anywhere and walked out to go with her and help her the rest of the way.
At the end of the ropes course, the students finally get to do the zip-line. Once off the line, I heard one girl say, “That was on my bucket list. I’m glad I’ve gotten an early start.” Another student exclaimed, “I didn’t think I could do it, but I did!”
Our hope is that these students show the same support with each other while working together on their businesses and can cultivate the courage to tackle challenges that intimidate them, just as the obstacles they face during the course. And perhaps, at the end of LAUNCH Kinect, they’ll walk away with the same feeling of accomplishment that they have at the end of that zip-line.
LAUNCH PR and Communications Manager