On the 24th November, the Centre for Assessment team, layered up against the elements, made their way to Challenge 4 Change in Trafford Park, Manchester. Ignoring the cold, the team anticipated another business as usual away day.
The only indication that something was different was a cryptic line in the confirmation email telling us that “the aerial stuff is optional”. We had no idea what an amazing day we were in for.
After a short morning of presentations from our team and a tasty lunch to line our nervous stomachs, we were eager to get started. It wasn’t long before our coach for the day, Chris, boomed into the room and had us on our feet and completing our first task of the day. All we had to do was put a stick on the ground. The twist? 5 of us had to maintain contact with the stick with just our fingers and lower it to the floor together with none of us breaking contact. In no time at all, we were working together and racing the other team to the ground.
This task set the tone for the day. Missions, once accepted, ranged from taking a single step forward in unison, all the way to climbing a wall twice our size, one by one. Each task was impossible alone, but through the power of teamwork we finished every single one.
Next came the part that our acrophobic team members had been dreading – The aerial section. On with the harnesses and helmets (enhancing our fashion statement), up the rope net and suddenly we found ourselves on a terrifying obstacle course high above the ground. Walking tightropes, crossing bridges made of tiny swinging blocks and scrambling our way across a difficult climbing wall suspended in the air.
It was a tough journey, and without the encouragement of our team a lot of us might not have been able to finish. But before long, we were all standing together at the end of the course having completed every challenge, exhausted and ready to go home.
But there was one more challenge. Chris gestured towards a trapeze suspended in the air next to a tiny platform and introduced us to the Leap of Faith. We were to climb to the top of the miniscule platform and perform a huge leap to grab the trapeze. Chris told us it wasn’t easy, and we were all free to say no to the task. If he would have asked at the beginning of the day, many may have been tempted to skip this particular task but after everything we’d been through we were all raring to go.
Graeme was the first to go, clambering to the top in record time. After some brief encouragement from Chris, he jumped with all his might and grabbed the trapeze to a roar of applause. Craig went second, feeling confident now that Graeme had shown it was possible. He leapt for the trapeze and… missed. But it wasn’t about succeeding, it was about trying.
The whole team participated, some succeeded, and some missed. But each team member was encouraged the whole way and congratulated for trying every time regardless of the result.
We started the day as a reluctant group on a team outing, and finished the day as a group of friends who had accomplished things they didn’t think were possible.
Challenge 4 Change, did exactly as the name suggests and challenged us to change, and succeeded. Our beliefs were challenged, our teamwork was challenged, and our self-confidence was challenged. And at the end of the day, everything had changed for the better.