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Bliss Life

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Learning the Ropes with Project Discovery

Sep 10, 2019 08:00AM ● By Kristy Mc Lean

Dis-cov-er-y [dih-skuhv-uh-ree] n. 1. the act or process of discovering; making known or visible, exploring. 2. to find truth proceeding from awareness.

Just 20 minutes outside of Reno and 15 minutes from Lake Tahoe, nestled into the aspen and fir forest of Mount Rose, is the most amazing escape for outdoor adventure, self-discovery, leadership training, team building, and communication; the Project Discovery Ropes Challenge Course. It is one of the largest challenge courses in the United States, accommodates all ages and abilities, including adaptive programs and specialized camps for those with special needs, and incorporates a fun, learn-by-doing approach that helps participants connect their ropes course experience to their own life challenges. From tabletop meeting activities to zip lines and ropes course elements up to 60 feet in the trees, Project Discovery has something to challenge every participant and every group.

Project Discovery is operated by Michael Selby, Ed.D., a thirty-year veteran in the training and adventure field. He has worked with local, state, national and international organizations. Dr. Selby’s satisfied clients include Merrill-Lynch, Dunn & Bradstreet, Wells Fargo, the U.S. Navy and thousands of business, government and non-profit organizations. This summer, Dr. Selby launched the Project Discovery Leadership Academy designed to help young people, ages 13 to 17, develop their outdoor leadership potential. Kelly McLean, the 14-year old daughter of Bliss Life Executive Editor, Kristy McLean, attended the 5 day, 4 night sleep away camp that accepts a maximum of 12 participants to ensure campers get the maximum benefits from their experience. Both Kelly and her mom can attest to the incredible growth that took place during this camp that not only prepared Kelly for work as a future camp counselor but got her off her phone and into the beauty of nature. Kelly shares her personal experience at the Project Discovery Leadership Academy below.

BL: You recently attended the very first Project Discovery Leadership Academy. What were some of the highlights?

KM: Project Discovery Leadership Academy was so incredible that it’s tough to narrow it down, but my highlights were meeting some amazing new friends, learning new skills, and doing things I never imagined I would be doing. It’s hard to believe that we did so much in only 5 days. We learned how to set up, take down, and safely lead participants through the ropes course. We also went rock climbing, backpacking to the top of a Slide Mountain where we slept under the stars, and prepared all of our own meals.

BL: Did you overcome any fears while you were at camp?

KM: Definitely! I came into the camp with a pretty extreme fear of heights and couldn’t even make it to the top of the ladder before the real climb began. But, by the end of the week I was rock climbing and leadings kids though the highest elements of the ropes course! I will always be grateful for the way Project Discovery helped me to get out of my comfort zone and face my fears.

BL: What did you learn? How did you grow through the experience?

KM: I learned how to push myself out of my comfort zone, how to be a good leader, and I improved my communication skills. I grew through this experience in almost every way possible and by the end of the week I felt so much better than when the week started.

BL: Now you’re working as a Project Discovery Junior Counselor. What is your favorite thing about being a camp counselor?

KM: I love seeing the kids’ faces light up with pride when they overcome their fears and tackle new challenges. Knowing that we’re making a difference in the kids’ lives is, honestly, one of the best feelings ever.

BL: Do you wish you were able to attend Project Discovery day camp when you were younger?

KM: Definitely, as a young kid I would have loved this camp and may not have ever developed a fear of heights if I had attended when I was younger. It’s a great summer activity especially if your child is adventurous, creative, and has a big imagination. But even if that doesn’t describe your child, Project Discovery really brings out the best in kids and I highly recommend it – it is so so worth it.

BL: Would you recommend the Project Discovery ropes course to adults and how does the ropes course promote team building and other valuable skills that apply to our daily lives?

KM: I think the Project Discovery ropes course is great for adults too! It’s great for team building and other valuable skills because it forces you to work together and trust each other, and who doesn’t need a little extra boost when it comes to teamwork?!

To learn more, please follow @projectdiscovery on Instagram and visit