Ramapo offers a wealth of expertly facilitated activities for your group to enjoy while visiting our Rhinebeck campus.
Our staff helps you select the best activities from the menu below for a tailored experience that will meet your group’s goals. After most activities, time is set aside for participants to process the experience. During debriefs, participants are asked to reflect on the activities and share their thoughts and feelings on the outcomes. This is also an opportunity for group members to give each other feedback. Participants learn about themselves and other group members through these discussions.
Initiatives are engaging activities that build trust and support among group members. These group challenges also teach communication, problem solving, and teamwork.
Name Games - The purpose of these types of activities is for participants to learn each other's names, begin conversations, and set everyone in the group at ease.
Example: Name Tornado
Start by having the group form a circle with everyone shoulder to shoulder. Everyone in the group should then introduce themselves out loud so that everyone can hear them. Ask for a volunteer that would like to start in the middle. The person in the middle will then point at someone in the circle and say a command. The commands are: Right, Left, Me or You. The person that is pointed at must then respond to the person in the middle with the correct name of the individual to either the Right, Left, Me (person in the middle) or you (themselves). If the participant that was pointed at, does not respond correctly or in a timely manner, then they will switch positions with the participant in the middle. At anytime, the facilitator can yell 'Name Tornado', and the entire circle must reorganize so that they are standing next to different people.
Energizers - The purpose of these types of activities is to warm up the group and promote group interaction.
Example: Screaming Toes
Start by having the group form a circle in which everyone is shoulder to shoulder. The facilitator then instructs everyone to look down and at someone else's toes. When the facilitator instructs the group to, everyone looks up at the person's toes they were looking at. If anyone is making eye contact with someone else (the two participants were looking at each others toes) they then scream as loud as they can and run to form a new circle. This process is then repeated with two circles and just having the participants go back and forth from one circle to the other.
Initiatives - The purpose of these types of team building challenges is to focus more on planning, problem solving, and creative thinking, than on physical ability. They are a great way to challenge groups, begin or enhance the team-building process, or simply have fun!
Example: Grid Lock
Split the group up into two different sides. Place poly spots in a grid formation so that it looks the same no matter what side you are standing on. You must then predetermine a pattern that gets across to the other side. Use this same pattern just mirrored for the opposite side so that is seems as if there are two teams competing against each other, even though this is not the case, as the fast way to figure out the pattern is by working together. The initiative is then played by having the groups alternate turns in trying to figure out the pattern. When it is a groups turn they can send one person up to the grid and take one step onto a poly spot, if they are correct they may take another step, and continue doing this until they are wrong. Once they make a wrong step, the other group then gets to have a turn at doing the same thing. The game is completed once both groups successfully make it to the opposite side.
Trust Activities - The purpose of these types of activities is to help people to develop mutual respect, openness, understanding, and empathy, as well as helping to develop communication and teamwork skills.
Example: Cross the Line
Everyone in the group lines up in a straight line with a rope or line in front of them. A serious of statements are then read allowed to the group. Those that agree with the statement take a step forward while those that disagree stay put. It is very important to emphasis that it is the individuals choice how to answer after each of the statements, and that it is also okay if they choose not to answer either way. It really connects the group to one other and calls for participants to be vulnerable at times, depending on the deepness of the statements that are used. Make sure that you choose statements that your group is ready for, and do not go too deep with a group if they will not be able to handle it. It is also important to make sure that if the statements used are on a semi-decent personal level that the facilitator reading the questions is either in line with the group or behind the group so they do not come off the wrong way.
Group Challenges - The purpose of these types of activities is to practice and evaluate their personal skills and their impact on the larger group/community. This activity leads into the reflection and debrief.
Example: 1, 2, 3....20
Start by having 2 people (non participants) hold a jump rope or a rope that can be used as a jump rope. Once these people are ready, the instructions to the game can be given to the group. All that you tell them is that the name of the game is 1, 2, 3... 20. The only rule to the game is that the people will continue to turn the rope as long as the group has not messed up, which includes someone touching the rope. If the people turning the rope see someone touch the rope or the correct order is not followed, then they stop turning and drop the rope, and the game starts over. The correct order that the group must follow is: 1 person, 2 people, 3 people, 1 person, 2 people, 3 people, until there has been 20 groups (defined as a set of people going through the rope at the same time) pass through the rope.
"We thoroughly enjoyed our camping experience at Ramapo this summer. Your staff got rave reviews and exceeded our expectations—which is a tough feat!" –Rachel Cytron, Associate Executive Director, Harlem RBI
High Ropes Elements
Each of our 11 different high ropes elements are between 25 and 35 feet high. Participants wear safety gear (harness and helmet) and professionally trained Ramapo staff facilitate the high ropes experience. By taking on the “perceived risk" of an element, participants gain more self-confidence and practice supporting and trusting their teammates. Climbers must be at least eight years old and securely fit into all safety gear. High ropes elements are also available indoors in our recreation center. Participants must be at least 8 years of age and securely fit into all safety gear.
Multi-vine Traverse: The element begins with a 25 foot rope ladder climb. Once up the ladder, climbers step on to a cable, and then use a series of hanging ropes to walk out as far as they can. The ropes get more challenging to reach the farther the climber goes.
The Postman’s Walk: The element begins with a 25 foot rope ladder climb. Once up the ladder, climbers step on to a cable and reach up to another parallel cable. Using the two cables, climbers walk out as far as they can.
Giant’s Ladder: Two climbers help each other climb a suspended 25 foot “giant” log ladder, consisting of cedar logs that start roughly 4 feet apart. The logs get farther apart as the climbers get higher, increasing the need for teamwork.
Partner Pamper Pole: Two participants climb a 25 foot post and help each other stand on a small platform at the top. With backs turned to each other, the two climbers jump off of the platform, attempting to touch a suspended volleyball, and then are lowered to the ground.
Trapeze: Participants climb a tree to an attached perch 25 feet above the ground. Participants then leap for a stationary trapeze suspended almost within reach, and then are lowered to the ground.
Cat Walk: Two participants climb 20 feet up a tree to a horizontal log connecting each tree. The participants then walk along the log toward each other, help each other balance and switch places, then walk to the other end of the log.
Zip Line: Climbers climb a 25 foot phone pole to a small platform. The climber sits on the platform while a staff member clips them to a pulley on a 50 yard long cable. After a series of safety double-checks, the participant slides off of the platform and “zips” along the length of the cable.
The High Y: Three Cables connect about 30 feet in the air creating a shape like the letter Y. Two climbers work their way up separate trees and stand on the “top” of the Y, facing each other. Using ropes and each other two balance, climbers work their way to the middle of the Y where the three cables connect, then help each other work towards the “bottom” of the Y.
Flying Squirrel: A team of participants is attached to one end of a long rope. The rope goes up to a pulley and back down where it is secured to a climber. After a series of commands, both the team and the climber run in the same direction, and as the slack is pulled out of the rope, the climber goes “flying” as they are lifted about 15 feet into the air by their team.
The Sunshine Tower (Family Circle): Four climbers communicate and plan how to work their way as a team up a 25 foot challenge unique to Ramapo for Children. Each climber has to choose their path through challenges such as rock climbing, swinging, rope ladders, and balance beams. In the end, the four climbers can finish together at a center platform suspended 25 feet in the air together, overcoming a one-of-a-kind high ropes experience.
Climbing Wall: Our indoor and outdoor climbing towers are simulated rock climbs that reach 40 feet into the air and focuses on horizontal climbing, known as “bouldering”. Participants wear safety gear and are belayed (secured by rope) by trained Ramapo staff. There are four routes that climbers can choose from depending on their experience and comfort. Allows for the development of problem-solving skills.
"There are not enough words to express my gratitude for your contribution to the Chosen Vessels. Your openness, compassion, enthusiasm, and highly effective leadership impacted us deeply. The [participants] were able to really connect with the overall experience and with the lessons that they learned about themselves and about each other...I thank you. Your leadership changes and strengthens lives." –Monica Dennis, Co-Founder and Co-President, Spirit of a Woman
Low Ropes Elements
Low ropes are a type of obstacle course consisting of 15 different team- and trust-building elements. A typical low ropes activity might involve group members balancing on a cable suspended two feet above the ground or swinging across a short distance using a rope. Low ropes elements are also available indoors in our recreation center and are facilitated by trained Ramapo staff.
The Mohawk Walk: A group of participants try to make their way along a series of tightrope cables about a foot off the ground. Each cable connects a chain of trees, and the participants are challenged to use the trees and their team to walk along the cables without stepping off.
The Teepee Shuffle: Participants are challenged to stand in line on a horizontal log about two feet off of the ground. Once everyone is balanced and standing, they are challenged to rearrange the order of the line without letting anyone step off of the log.
The Nitro Swing: A group of participants swing one at a time to a platform just large enough to fit the entire team. The platform stands about a foot off the ground, and participants need to plan how to help each swinging member on to the platform while helping balance everyone together.
Low Multi-vine Traverse: A series of ropes hang above a foot cable about 2 feet off of the ground, and participants help support individuals or groups work their way along the cable using the ropes for balance.
The Low Wall: Participants work as a team to lift their group, one teammate at a time, over a ten foot wall, onto small platform on the other side. Two participants can help from above on the platform, however once a third climber goes up, one of those three needs to climb down the steps on the back side.
The Low Two-Line Traverse: Participants work their way along a foot cable using a second cable as a hand rail as the rest of the team supports them from the ground. The foot cable starts about a foot off the ground, and then gets slightly higher to about 2 feet.
The Relationship Traverse: Two climbers start by standing on two separate cables, each about a foot off the ground, facing each other. Using their partner to help for balance, the climbers work their way out by walking along the cables. As they walk out, each climber’s cable gets farther away from their partner’s, forcing them to lean forward and trust their partner for more support as the rest of the team supports from the ground.
The Triangle Traverse: Three trees are connected by cables about a foot off of the ground. Two climbers start at the same corner of the triangle, but walk in opposite directions, while using long ropes for balance. The climbers try to work all the way around the circle, crossing in the middle, as the rest of the team supports from the ground.
The Jiggy Log: A swinging log is suspended from two trees, and climbers try to balance and walk from one end of the log to the other. The team supports each climber from the ground, and can help reduce the challenge by steadying the swinging log.
The Maze: A rope is tied in one continuous circle. Participants are lead in blindfolded and dispersed around the circle, holding the rope with one hand, and are challenged to come together as a team without letting go of the rope or taking off their blindfold.
The Giant’s Finger: A group of participants try to make their way along a series of tightrope cables about a foot off the ground. Each cable connects a chain of trees, and the participants are challenged to use the trees and their team to walk along the cables without stepping off
The Trust Fall: The ultimate trust activity: Participants stand on a platform about 4 feet off of the ground with their back towards the edge as the rest of the team organizes to catch them. After a series of safety checks, the participant falls back and is caught by their team.
The Rock Garden: As a team, climbers need to build a bridge between a series of low tree stumps using long 4”x4” beams. The team needs to help balance each other on the beams, as well as pass more beams to make more bridges until the end of the series.
The Spider’s Web: A web of bungee cord is set like a wall in front of a team. The individuals need to figure out how to get the entire team through the web without touching any of the cords. Often groups are challenged not to use the same hole to pass through twice, meaning many members will need to be lifted and passed through the web by their teammates.
The Whale Watch: A large platform, approximately four feet square, is balanced in the middle like a see-saw about a foot off of the ground. Groups are challenged to get their entire team on to the platform without letting it touch the ground on either side, balancing as one team at the same time.
“Since the inception of our school in 2002, every ninth grade class has traveled to Ramapo as way for them to begin the path towards becoming a tight-knit community. Through a well-designed program our students leave Ramapo knowing more about their peers, their teachers, and even themselves by the end of the visit. The Ramapo staff thoughtfully works with our students and staff on a series of group activities that range from the physically challenging to building trust and all the while supporting one another. It is one of the most memorable aspects of the school’s experience and ties in beautifully with our school’s goals of building character and community.” ––Dimitri Saliani, Principal, Eleanor Roosevelt HS
Enjoy a trip out on our beautiful 30-acre lake. Row boating is a great starting point for beginners—each rowboat seats four people, including one adult supervisor. Participants looking for a challenge can gain teamwork and cooperation skills with canoeing. Ramapo staff will teach rowing and canoeing techniques and review all rules prior to the experience. All participants are required to wear life jackets. Availability of water-based activities is subject to change.
Ramapo’s extensive woods and hiking trails offer a tranquil space to reflect and enjoy the outdoors. We have appropriate trails for a range of skill levels, from beginner to advanced.
- 4 available trails ranging in difficulty from beginner to advanced
- Trails lead to campfire sites and other sites on Ramapo’s campus
- Trails can be used to complete orienteering activities
- Day and night hikes are available
Participants are challenged to use a map to find locations on Ramapo’s marked trails. Before the group departs for the woods they are taught how to correctly interpret a map and its relationship to the terrain. Orienteering supports group skills in areas such as planning, decision making, setting goals, and leadership.
Led by Ramapo staff during nighttime hours and hosted at specific sites on campus, our campfires are structured, safe, and popular with groups of all types. Participants roast marshmallows, tell stories, and reflect on the day's activities.
Our fun and interactive cooperative games allow group members to get to know each other and begin to feel comfortable in the camp setting.
“Free time” recreation activities may include basketball, playground time, mini golf, cards/board games, arts and crafts, cooking, or relaxing in the lodges. Agency staff shares the supervision of participants with Ramapo staff.
After dinner, participants enjoy large group activities such as:
- Celebrity or Movie Mania—charades-based games
- Goofy Relays—relay races with a variety of silly events
- Experience Your Future—a game that focuses on healthy decision making
- Making the Video—participants divide into small groups that each choose a song and create a “video" to go along with it
- Rama-Feud—similar to “Family Feud"
- Poetry/Spoken Word Coffee House—participants are given time to create original works, which are shared with the group
- Skit Night/Talent Shows
"I cannot find words strong enough to describe how positive an experience this has been for our students and their families. Through the Ramapo Retreat experience, we accomplish important school goals. We know we are providing our families with a unique experience, which is best summed up by a parent who reported that the entire experience was "phenomenal" and by a student as "awesome!" The one question at the end of the experience is, "When are we going back?" –Rima Ritholz, Principal, PS 176
For more information about Ramapo Retreats, contact our Retreats Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or 845.876.8435.