Clallam, WSU to consider pact to develop youth ropes course in Port Angeles area

PORT ANGELES — A low ropes adventure course will encourage youth to take healthy risks while building confidence and self-esteem, a Clallam County prevention specialist said Monday.

The three commissioners will consider today an interagency agreement with Washington State University for a portable ropes course and facilitator training to offer team-building education in the Port Angeles area.

The $11,000 not-to-be-exceeded amount is covered by a federal Drug-Free Communities grant awarded to the Port Angeles Healthy Youth Coalition.

Clallam County is the fiscal agent for the grant.

Leeann Grasseth, county Health and Human Services prevention specialist and coalition grant coordinator, told commissioners Monday that ropes course training promotes teamwork and helps reduce youth substance abuse.

“The reason we wanted to do it and get community members interested and trained is because we’ve had some teachers, PE teachers, that wanted to use and implement the ropes course challenge at school,” Grasseth said in a board work session.

WSU Clallam County Extension 4-H will care for and keep track of the Challenge Masters Inc. equipment, which includes a set of 50-foot ropes, wooden platforms and accessories.

Fourteen 4-H volunteers have already been trained.

“And then the Lower Elwha [Klallam tribe] also did the same training, and they have about 13 people trained to provide the low ropes challenge course,” Grasseth told commissioners.

A low ropes course is designed for groups and teams to build communication, trust and social and emotional learning skills, according to WSU Extension 4-H Adventure Education.

Stevens Middle School Principal Chuck Lisk hopes to incorporate the low ropes course into a weeklong physical education session in the upcoming school year, Grasseth said.

No commissioner objected to the interagency agreement Monday.

“I’ve been a big proponent of this kind of confidence-building, leadership-building, skill-building approach for years,” Commissioner Jim McEntire said. “I applaud this.”

Commissioner Mike Doherty said the Boy Scouts and other groups have traditionally held leadership training in the wilderness.

He encouraged Grasseth to work with Peninsula College to introduce young students to the campus and to take advantage of existing ropes course equipment.

Grasseth said the high ropes course formerly used by Peninsula College’s Upward Bound preparatory program for first-generation, college-bound high school students is not up to standards.

“It would take quite a bit of money to get that high ropes course back up to standards,” she said.

“We wanted to make sure we were pretty much inclusive of all youth in the community,” Grasseth said.


Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at

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