Back in the 1980s, a Minnesota State professor wanted to create a rope course on the far south side of campus by the tree line. So they did. In 2023, it has become more than just a rope course. That rope course turned into Maverick Adventures and has dramatically changed in the last 41 years.
“It started in the 80s as a lab school to train facilitators how to teach leadership development and team building facilitation skills. We started providing these high ropes programs to the campus community and the Mankato community,” said Sam Steiger, the Program Coordinator. “In the last eight or nine years, we have been trying to connect students with the outdoors and connect students with each other by doing a series of events.”
Steiger said he enjoys running the program and that there are many opportunities in the program for students and community members to do.
“I love working with students. That is what drives me. I love sharing Minnesota with people, and we’ve had an opportunity to create programs that really change lives,” he said. “A lot of our rock climbers have never rock climbed before, and then they come to our facility just to see if they like it, but then they fall in love with it and stay around for a long time.”
Steiger has said that these outdoor activities are an important part of the program. One of the outdoor activities that students can do in this program is ice fishing. Yes, ice fishing. (Ice fishing involves catching fish through holes augured into ice on a frozen lake while trying not to freeze your butt off.)
“We bring people out to a local lake about 20 minutes outside of town, and we have all the gear and all the equipment to show them that ice fishing is fun but also that you can do it comfortably,” said Steiger. “Last year, we even caught a couple of fish, which is a bonus. The first year, we got skunked, but after everyone left, I started catching fish. That wasn’t very fair.”
Located on the South side of campus by the fitness trail and the observatory, teiger says it is a mystical hidden gem of campus.
“The challenge course is steel telephone poles that are 33 feet in height. We use that challenge course for educational programming and with groups that want to learn essential team skills,” said Steiger. “Student groups often use it, but we also serve the outside community. We have sports teams, businesses and local leadership development seminars.”
People can also learn how to use belay equipment, the rope system used to prevent fellow climbers from falling. Once someone learns how to use that rope and “belay” someone, Steiger says the rock wall opens up a little more for them.
“We have these things called auto belays. They’re these devices that hang in the ceiling, and you just clip into it. As you climb, it sucks the slack. When you let go, it lowers you to the ground,” said Steiger. “When you’re on a rope, that’s not the case. You need someone to be on the other end of your rope. If a student wants to sign up for a clinic, they can take a clinic where we teach them how to belay, and then they’re able to belay at our facility.”
For more information on how to participate in this program, students can find them on Instagram at @mnsuadventure or on the campus recreation app.
“A great way for students to be in touch about our programming is through the Campus Rec app, and if they download the Campus Rec app, all that stuff is right at your fingertips,” said Steiger.
Write to Lauren Viska at firstname.lastname@example.org
Header Photo: Maverick Adventures at Minnesota State University, Mankato offers innovative challenges and the use of adventure-based activities for leadership development and team building skills promoting positive growth and learning (Lilly Anderson/The Reporter)