Construction Begins on “The Phoenix Nest” – a Bigger & Better Ropes Course Challenge

Artist rendering of the new ropes course
Artist rendering of the new ropes course, click to enlarge

Last October’s wind storm completely took out our Hyde School ropes course that is located on the lawn behind the Mansion. This summer, it is being re-built, bigger and better than before in thanks to a generous gift from alumnus Jeff Black ’78. His gift covers the cost of building the new course, including elements for indoor use at the Family Resource Center and training for Hyde’s instructors to ensure safety and the best possible experience for participants.

The original ropes course was built nearly 30 years ago with a spectacular zip line finish. In 1996, storms damaged it, but the damage was not nearly as destructive as the most recent storm. The course was soon repaired and continued to be used for team building and confidence boosting, especially during Family Weekends. It became the de facto requirement for students and parents to try it before they graduated.

SLC 2017 Zip Line finish
A Summer Leadership Challenge student completes the zip line finish in 2017

In the early 2000s the course was re-built again to meet updated safety standards. The favorite zip line was joined by a “pamper plank” as another spectacular finishing element. A “pamper plank” is a platform from which the climber jumps toward a target ball that hangs in front of them a few feet away. The objective is to hit the ball with your hands and then continue your descent to the ground.

A student jumping from the pamper plank on her way down in 2009
A student jumping from the pamper plank on her way down in 2009

Construction on the new course started this week with crews installing the massive poles that will connect the course together. When finished, there will be 19 elements spread out over an area of about 170 feet by 210 feet. It will be double the size of the old course and has been designed to challenge both parents and Hyde’s best athletes. The course, being called “The Phoenix Nest” in homage to Hyde’s past mascot, is expected to be a campus showpiece. It marks a renewed commitment to the ropes course and the learning and leadership challenge it provides.

Poles installed for new ropes course
Construction begins on the new ‘Phoenix Nest’ ropes course, July 2018

“At Hyde, we teach that Leadership comes from within,” says Laura Gauld, Head of School. “You need to build your confidence in order to be in charge of your own destiny and live out your unique potential. This course gives students a place to challenge themselves in a very real way, and build the confidence they need to develop what we call their inner leadership.”

The course construction is expected to take 4-6 weeks, and be ready for students this fall.