Inside UNC Charlotte -- July 2012 -- Venture

Uploaded by unccharlottevideo on 25.06.2012

UNC Charlotte's Venture Program started in 1974, and has been serving the most adventurous
49ers ever since.
A team of Communications Studies students recently set out to tell the story of the
My name is Sandy Kohn; I'm the director of the Venture Program at UNC Charlotte.
So, the Venture Program started in 1970, with a grant that sent a group of faculty, staff,
and students from UNCC to the new Outward Bound school that had started just a couple
of years earlier.
They came back from that three-week trip saying this was an amazing experience; we need to
make this available to students on a regular basis.
The Venture Program has grown tremendously since its origins.
I got here in 1984. When I got here, we were doing about 24 trips a year and about 24 challenge
course programs a year, and that's about all we did.
Now, we still do about 24 trips a year; last year, we did about 350 challenge course programs.
We added a climbing wall that had about another 120 programs.
And also, when I came, we were teaching one academic class, and now we teach ten. And,
we just proposed an academic minor, which will provide a whole new avenue, that's new
from what we used to do.
My name is Matthew "Chewey" Johnson, as people like to refer to me. I've been with Venture
for three years now.
My name is Ana Pisani, and I've been with the Venture Program since November of 2008,
so approximately four years.
The reasons I see people come out to the wall a lot of times is to have a good time, to
experience a new adventure, or to just build community with fellow classmates.
During my freshman year, I had the opportunity to sign up for a rock climbing class, and
Venture runs that particular class.
I grew a lot, in just learning about myself, and in learning about how to interact in community,
as well as other team-building activities.
The whole idea of Venture is to provide experiential learning in the outdoors, so we try to get
people to get involved with our program. We try to get people to go through our course
so that that way, they can find ways to push their own boundaries throughout our different
activities that we have.
My name is Juan Acosta, and I've been with Venture for a little over five years, I'm
a senior.
The main goal for people who come out to our high ropes course is just to have a very unique
experience, whether it's a personal growth experience or a team-building experience by
giving them an opportunity to be in a very unique atmosphere such as the high ropes course.
Groups and teams, when they're out on the ropes course, it just gives them a very different
experience from what they are used to. If they're a team and they're just used to being
in a field or in a game, being out on the ropes course allows them to kind of challenge
themselves a little more and kind of trust each other more.
Participants, when they come out here, have a very unique, well they have a very established
fear of heights, sometimes. And just a lack of trust in the gear. So, they start on this
ground level right here, this first level, which is around four feet of the ground and
it's very, it's not hard, it's not difficult, and then we move onto the second level and
the third level.
We are there to talk them through it; we are there to explain to them, very rationally,
any fear that they might have.
So, we're not going to push people too much, but we going to challenge you to push yourself
to a limit.
I'm Vincent Soelzler, and I've been involved with the Venture Program for about two years.
Typically, the people that participate in the program are often international students,
and we also run what's called the first adventure trip every semester, all for incoming freshmen,
which is another group of people who tend to go together and participate a lot in the
program as well.
On trips, I'd say we develop skills having to do, of course, with outdoor skills. You
learn to kayak, maybe learn to rock climb and to backpack. That's a set of skills I'd
refer to as the hard skills, but then there's also a set of soft skills, learning to deal
with people and working together.
I think it's unique in the sense that maybe on a team-building course or something, you
would do that, but it's in a very deliberate sense, like we're coming here just to team
Whereas, when we're out in the woods, you know, we're all cooking dinner together, we're
all working together to get things done. And so, working together comes in a natural way,
or in a more natural flow.
The Venture experience on-campus, and the Venture experience off-campus - they tend
differ because you really build a sense of community with the people that you have to
sleep with, and cook dinner with, and be with for a longer period of time, and you're not
just sort of cramming yourselves together, just to be together, to work together. There's
a real nature environment to build a sense of community and work together on the trip.
My name is Brian Capron, and I am the Associate Director of the Venture Program.
Different groups come to venture with different kinds of needs. One of those needs is the
amount of time that they can spend with us.
The freshman seminar programs are like, either an hour and fifteen minutes long, and so we
have created a program style that is able to provide a good, mobile activity program
within that hour-and-fifteen minute time block.
Typically, when a group comes out to our low ropes challenge course, we work with a matter
of approximately three hours. And, so we have a lot more flexibility with the kinds of programming
that we offer.
And, the high ropes course experience with us takes somewhere in the neighborhood of
three, three-and-a-half, to four hours depending on the size of the group. So, time constraints
are one of the things that can dictate the reasons that we choose the kind of programming
that we do.
So, the one thing that I want students to take away from the Venture Program, I think,
is the greater sense of themselves: who they are, what they're capable of, and also, more
of a sense of ownership about the decisions they are making in their lives, more of a
sense of responsibility that this is my life, and I can shape it the way I want it to be,
rather than just sort of going with the flow or being pushed from one thing to another,
really taking control of one's life.
And I see that happen a lot with our student leaders, and also with the students in our
academic classes. I think that's the biggest gift we give to UNCC students.