Several days before their classmates moved in, a group of first-year Ithaca College students kicked off their college careers blindfolded, confused and holding tightly to a rope.
Not only did they sign up for it, they loved it. It was all part of Ithaca College’s Jumpstart program, which allows first-year students to arrive early to learn about sustainability, team-building, leadership and community engagement, all while exploring in and around Ithaca.
As part of Lead In, which is one of Jumpstart’s four possible tracks, students learned about team-building and leadership through challenges both on the ground and up as high as 50 feet. In this particular ground-based challenge, the blindfolded students were told to make their way along a rope that was zig-zagged around trees in a kind of maze.
Told to find their way out, they snaked through the trees, traversing over and under, in between and through with no sign of the end. The instructor told them if they needed help to raise their hand. They grew frustrated. Still, they fumbled and bumbled blindfolded, thinking the answer had to be close. The instructor repeated again, “When you need help, raise your hand. I’m here to help you.” They tried everything.