A new YMCA ropes course, planned for completion early next year, began teaching team-building and problem-solving skills ahead of schedule this weekend.
Heavy rain poured down over the groundbreaking ceremony for the course Saturday morning, forcing organizers to improvise and washing out a family fun day at George Town’s Field of Dreams.
The Y’s fifth anniversary celebration may not have gone ahead as scheduled, but organizers pushed forward with a symbolic groundbreaking. As a cold front blew in from the north, members of the YMCA and the Governor’s Office huddled under a protective awning with shovels in hand.
The planned ropes course comes as a result of fundraising from the 2017 Deputy Governor’s 5K Challenge, which raised a record $85,000 through April’s walks and runs held in Cayman Brac and Grand Cayman. Around $80,000 of the funds are budgeted for the course, supported by electric poles donated from CUC. The remaining money is slated to help young people in Cayman Brac attend YMCA camp in Grand Cayman.
The course, intended to teach youth life skills and team building, will include a 50-foot Alpine tower, and a 30-foot high giant swing with a 60-foot arch path.
Deputy Governor Franz Manderson said the YMCA project was chosen as this year’s beneficiary for the real-world results it is expected to produce.
“Why I was drawn to them, if you look back at all the projects that the DG’s 5K has supported, it has always been very tangible things that you can see. We supported hospice and their building. We supported the Special Olympics going off and doing a trip. We worked with the Heart Fund to get an ambulance. Now, you will be able to see a ropes course going up. The public will be able to see exactly where their money has gone and they can feel part of it,” Mr. Manderson said.
“I want the community to know they can be part of something special by coming out and doing the DG’s 5K. That’s why I supported the Y. They’re a first-class organization. They’re world-known for what they do for youth and the community. It was a great pleasure to work with them and I am so happy they are now partnered with another great organization in the Cayman Islands, the Little League.”
The facility will be located at the Field of Dreams behind the Little League fields and across from the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.
YMCA Chief Executive Officer Greg Smith said the planned course will emphasize team development and building concentration.
“It really speaks to one of the greatest concerns we’ve had, which is really teaching people in a way that it becomes real around the things they need to learn: social skill development, communications, problem solving and then applying them back to life. Of all the things we can do, we feel this fits what the YMCA is. It’s fun. It’s different. It’s adventurous and exciting. It’s very real,” Mr. Smith said.
In addition to building team skills, the course will also help participants overcome their fears – something Deputy Governor Manderson can relate to.
“I do have a fear of heights. But we should always be trying to meet our fears, so yes, you can expect to see me there,” he said.
Construction of the course is planned from Jan. 22 to Feb. 3. Mr. Smith said that once the grounds are ready, construction of the course should only require two weeks.
The course will offer an alternative to classroom-style learning by allowing young people to put their problem-solving skills to the test in a safe, real-world setting.
The 2018 Deputy Governor’s 5K Challenge is scheduled for April 15 in Cayman Brac, April 22 in Little Cayman and April 29 in Grand Cayman. The race’s next beneficiary will be announced early next year.
The YMCA’s family fun day will be rescheduled for 2018.