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Obstacle course sharpens leadership skills
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East Union Link Crew leaders discuss their strategy on getting through the Spider’s Web. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT
STOCKTON — Frances Telles was still shaking.

The East Union High senior had been hoisted high in the air Tuesday by her Link Crew teammates and threaded through one of the openings of the Spider’s Web, which is one of several obstacles at the Venture On Challenge Course.

“The objective is to get the entire group – one at a time – through the opening parts of the ‘web,’” said Rob Kroff, the program manager of the San Joaquin County Office of Education facility.

In this case, his ‘web’ was a series of ropes tied together, with the openings making for a tight squeeze per person.

“I had to keep my body stiff,” said Telles, who successfully got through the obstacle after several trial and error attempts.
In doing so, she had to place trust in her teammates.

The On Challenge Course is part of the Venture Academy Family of Schools program. In the past, Kroff has guided students and staff from the various school districts along with scouts, professionals and other groups.

The challenge course proved to be a series of individual and physical challenges, requiring a combination of teamwork skills and individual commitment.

The course started with ground level games and progressed to the high level elements constructed of utility poles, ropes and cables.

“I’m alright with heights,” said Chris Anaya, who was also the last person to cross over the narrow boards in the bridge-building exercise.

Link Crew coordinators Scott Sacuskie and Lori Jackson brought along 24 leaders from their group. About two years ago, Jackson helped introduce the On Challenge Course to her local Link Crew.

 “We’re hoping to build self confidence in our students,” said Sacuskie, who has been the coordinator for the past six years. “I’ve noticed that (this course) has already forced some of them to operate out of their comfort zone.”

His leaders are helping to ease the transition into high school for 400-plus freshmen enrolled this year at East Union.

The Link Crew coordinators are hoping that this exercise will help these students become even better leaders.