Posted by: joha5 | June 10, 2010

Follow the Leader: Doing a Ropes Course with 80 14-Year-Old Kids

I will wake up tomorrow morning at 7 o’clock, I will get into the shower, I will bathe and I will shave, I will get dressed, I will brush my teeth and do my hair, I will get in my car and I will drive to school, I will get on a bus and I will drive with 80 14-year-old children to a ropes course in Annapolis, Maryland, and I will proceed to embarrass myself like I never have before.

The ropes course consists of a high and low ropes course, a zipline, canoeing, and hiking (with maps!).  Now most of these things I can handle.  I’m not worried about the low ropes course or the canoeing.  However, leading 15 kids through the wilderness using a map absolutely terrifies me.  The notion of climbing some pole only to zip across the canopy of the forest at 40 miles per hour terrifies me.   And the potential for embarrassing myself in front of 80 children who would love nothing more than to see me look like an idiot terrifies me.  Well, none of these things actually terrifies me – they just all seem extremely unpleasant.

I love going outdoors and doing all of these crazy activities and I am sure that some of my colleagues and students will be more fearful than I am which only really serves as a mild consolation prize.  I’m not actually afraid that I will fall from the zipline or the high ropes course.  I’m just afraid that I will let out a high-pitched squeal at the wrong time, that I will be sweating like a whore in church which will give away my aura of being cool, calm, and collected, or that I will look absolutely ridiculous – and I will – when they strap me into the harness for the high ropes course.  You all know what I am talking about.  I will look a little something like this:

This is what I will look like tomorrow...only I will look a lot more awkward.

I can just see it now.  It is the kids’ third to last day before they graduate and go to high school.  They are all excited and happy to be there.  They will have their cameras out to capture these final moments in this chapter of their lives.  And then – lo and behold – there is an awkward 28-year-old man in the background wearing a strange-looking gimp harness sweating through his t-shirt with an anxious look on his face as he holds a map of the woods upside-down.  This is how I will be captured in these photos and this is how I will look when these kids start passing these photos around online on Facebook and Myspace and Twitter.  The best part is that I will have no idea when or how these soon-to-be-viral images will be passed around.  The worst part is that I will have no idea when or how these soon-to-be-viral images will be passed around. 

Just imagine when I apply for the job of my dreams, get an interview, and the HR Director or the person I am interviewing with googles my name and the first thing that pops up is a picture like the one I just described.  By going to the ropes course tomorrow I may be damning my entire professional career before it even really gets off the ground.  Then again, I’m probably being a bit too dramatic.  There is no doubt that I will look like an idiot at some point throughout the day tomorrow.  There is no doubt that the harness will be very unflattering on my awkward body.  And there is no doubt that I will be laughed at numerous times throughout the day. 

But I’m strangely looking forward to it.  I’m looking forward to do something out of my normal routine.  I’m looking forward to doing a ropes course for the first time in half a decade.  I’m looking forward to bonding with my colleagues and the kids one last time before summer starts.  And if the bonding is over how ridiculous and silly I look or act, then I can think of no better way to close out a great school year.

This is where I will embarrass myself in front of 80 14 year old kids...Wish me luck.



  1. Remember when you used to have that one full time job and you went on that retreat to Copenhagen? I swear to you, not 15 minutes ago it was brought up in the office how there’s some strange video, somewhere, showing a “bonding” ritual involving some bench in the top floor of a hall with a revolving dance floor. You’re not being melodramatic in the above post – your colleagues and students are in for a REAL treat tomorrow!

    • I have no comment on the entire Sweden-Denmark episode of 2008. As this is a blog about unemployment I feel that I will only make it worse by making a comment on that trip. However, I will actually remember tomorrow’s embarrassment should it actually take place so I will have to keep you posted! Oh, to have another full time job…one day, Andi. One day…

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