Marine Military Academy: Ropes Course

Maj Harold Compton

ropes courseIn 1999 I had the opportunity to attend a Boy Scout National Camp School to receive my certification to direct a high ropes course.  The course was one week in length and at the end of it I felt ready to embark on running of the course at the Marine Military Academy.  The most important aspect of the ropes course for me was experiencing what our cadets go through when they find themselves 30 feet in the air with only a rope to protect them should they fall.  I have never had a serious fear of heights but it was eye opening to say the least.   The goals that the course left me with were developing teamwork on low ropes and overcoming fears and improving confidence on high ropes events.


Running the MMA Ropes Course

ropes courseOver the last 13 years I have directed and observed thousands of cadets and summer campers on our low and high ropes course.  They run the entire spectrum from those that seem unafraid of any of the challenges to those that find it hard to even climb the ladder to get up on the course.  Additionally the groups as a whole initially struggle with working as a team  How a facilitator handles each of these types determines whether they will succeed in achieving the overall goals of the course.  Cadets are never forced to go on the course but are encouraged by Drill Instructors, course instructors and cadets alike.  All want to see them successfully work together and complete the course.  Working in a group and facing their fears is part of growing up and in this scenario they are safe although they may not realize it.  Many of them also lack confidence in their ability to complete the course and need constant encouragement to continue.   Getting them to continue and ultimately complete the course serves to help build their self confidence.

Ropes Course Director Responsibilty

ropes courseAs the course director it is my responsibility to oversee the running of the course and ensure everything is conducted in a safe manner.  Additionally, it is important to oversee those facilitating the course to ensure that their manner of running it is consistent with our goals.  Those goals are not to simply negotiate each obstacle successfully but rather to help overcome fears, develop self confidence and encourage teamwork among the participants.  No participant should ever come off the course feeling that they did not gain anything from it.  They should at the very least feel that they were able to push themselves a little further than they thought possible even if they do not complete the course.  Since our cadets get the opportunity to run the course more than once the goal is to have each cadet push a little further each time and hopefully complete the entire course some day.

Ropes Course at Marine Military Academy

To learn about the Ropes Course at the Marine Military Academy read our recent article  “High/Low Ropes Course

To learn more about the Marine Military Academy visit our website at or request information at