Programming 301 is a new column for Alpine Towers that speaks to more advanced programming techniques for your challenge course environment.

So your client or group is back for the third straight year and you are feeling the pressure to challenge them in new ways on the challenge course, but are not sure exactly what to do.  You might consider the Pink Ball Challenge.

Wal-Mart sells these giant pink balls with nubs on them that are great for having climbers or teams ascend your challenge course staying in constant contact with the ball. It’s a simple but great way to promote communication and teamwork with your groups.

The Pink Ball Challenge: Here’s how it works.

On group challenge courses, the entire team must stay in contact with the ball whether that is touching it with their hands or any body part. On the Alpine Tower, climbing tower, or climbing wall it is usually with pairs of climbers, but the concept is the same. If they do not succeed, they must start over or come back another time and let another group try.

Many teams fail in this activity, largely because it is not easy. It is a great way to then talk about failure in ways that are encouraging participants to take risks and persevere. In the United States, we have a tendency to avoid trying things that might lead to failure and yet our history is built on risk-taking.

The ability to focus on communication in more than broad brush strokes is also a great way to debrief this experience. Constant communication is needed for success along with hundreds of small adjustments along the way.

If you have ways that you have done similar activities, please let us know. We would love to hear from you. We can be reached at: or 828-772-0206

Also, check back with us every few weeks for new updates to PROGRAMMING FOR CHALLENGE COURSES 301.

By: Kevin “Doc” Klein: Alpine Towers Trainer and Inspector