Experiential learning at Red Eagle Challenge Course

Molly Vorwerck


The Outdoor Leadership Education and Recreation Program at San Juan College is largely based on experiential education, basically "learning by doing."  Challenge courses such as the college's High Endeavors Challenge course lend themselves easily to this type of learning, which is why the program's experiential education class spends most of its time there.


For students to experience a challenge course besides their own, the class took a field trip on April 19 to Red Eagle Challenge Course, a part of Indian Health Services, in Shiprock.

Orlando Pioche, who manages Red Eagle Challenge, does an awesome job of incorporating Native American teachings and beliefs into the program.  It is powerful to hear Navajo students introduce themselves in the Navajo language and name their clan.

The class got the unique opportunity to set up the course themselves, just as the facilitators would before a program.  They participated in three high elements: the Catwalk (pictured above), the Grapevine, where a participant walks across a cable holding onto three ropes dangling from above, and the Heebie Jeebie, which you can watch my attempt of below.


We always enjoy the opportunity to go out to Red Eagle -- the course is a great learning resource on many levels.