March 27, 2014

By Sylvia Brooks, Staff Writer

Jacob Gerrie Belaying Ropes Course Participant (Photo by Sylvia Brooks)

Jacob Gerrie Belaying Ropes Course Participant (Photo by Sylvia Brooks)

With sweaty palms and shakely legs, I gaze up at the trapeze bar hanging from the ceiling, just out of

my grasp. I reach up and bend my knees, forcing myself to jump from the nine inch square that is being

held up by a ten foot two by four, as fellow attendees hold onto the ropes supporting me above the Fitness

and Recreation Center’s hard floor. Adrenaline is pulsing through my veins as my feet leave the platform,

and I am suspended in mid air by my harness. With my deathly fear of heights, it is a mystery as to why I

attend the High Ropes Course, but every other week, I come back for more. Though you may not expect

to see people flying through the air and hanging on to the ceiling of the average college fitness center,

these are common sights for Jacob Gerrie.

Gerrie, the Physical Education teacher the the local elementary school, has been running the High

Ropes Course at the Fitness and Recreation Center (FRC) for about four years now. Gerrie says that he

has always had a passion for outdoor recreation, especially ropes courses. “It’s something that I enjoy

doing, and when I am with other people and they are doing something for the first time and they have the

same enjoyment, it makes me want to continue to do it,” said Gerrie.

The High Ropes Course is held every other Tuesday night from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at University of

Maine Farmington’s (UMF) FRC and is open to both community member as well as UMF students and

staff. The event is free for all UMF students and staff, and you can sign up at the front desk at the FRC,

though Gerrie encourages students who are at the gym to just, “stop on by and try it!” However, there

is a small cost of five dollars for community members. Not only is the roes course held on alternating

Tuesday nights, but Gerrie also runs the high ropes course for various sports teams and clubs on campus,

and hopes that teams and clubs will continue to have interest in doing more team building with him.

Alex Robinson, a Senior with a double major in Psychology and Elementary Education, helps Gerrie

at the ropes course on a regular basis. “I went to Jim Toner [the director for the FRC] and told him that I

wanted to get involved,” said Robinson. “I tried to just volunteer, but he was already paying people, so I

ended up just getting a job there.” Robinson has now been the assistant instructor for the past four years.

Gerrie and Robinson typically have about 12 participants per night, ranging from preteens, to college

students, to a very dedicated senior citizen. “Once a group starts coming, I get the same group to come

back,” said Gerrie. In the future, Gerrie would like more college students to attend, and hopes to have a

separate night for community members, but the attendance of college students would have to increase in

order to make that happen.

Given that the ropes course is open to the public, there is a wide variety of ages that participate. Grace,

a preteen Farmington resident, is an avid attendee and has been for the past year. Though she looks

terrified when she is standing 12 feet off the ground tethered by only a thin rope, she is always the first to

volunteer for the various activities. “I look forward to coming the day I leave,” said Grace.

In the future, Robinson hopes to continue to follow his passion of high ropes. “Any chance I get, I

will try to get into it as much as I can. I would love to get certified.” Gerrie wishes to continue to run the

program in the future, and hopes that UMF student interest will increase. “Tuesday nights are just a fun

time.”