By jeanne starmack
Teamwork. That’s what got St. Rose School fifth-grade teacher Barbara Dohar roped into zip-lining.
One of her students wouldn’t do it without her, she said. So in a show of support, she fastened that harness around her and stepped off the 20-foot-high platform that was set up Tuesday in the school parking lot.
“It was fun, but I was petrified,” she said shortly after she landed.
“It was exhilarating, I have to admit — not as bad as I thought it would be,” she continued, adding that she is afraid of heights.
Why do it at all, then? Why didn’t she just pass on it, and tell her student to do the same?
“It’s supposed to build character,” she said. “You work as a team. It builds self-confidence.”
“It’s doing things you didn’t think you could,” she added.
Character Camp, which an organization called Vehicle for Change brought to St. Rose for a daylong session, included not only zip-lining but a high-ropes course, a rock wall, a mulch-pit course and Wii-Fit games.
There were team-building games, said Renee Macali, the school’s physical education teacher, with 30 to 40 kids trying to complete tasks together.
“And at the end of the year, it’s a little treat,” she said as she was standing at the base of the zip-line platform helping another group of students get ready for their jumps.
The entire school, kindergarten through eighth grade, participated, with the younger students out in the morning and the older ones in the afternoon.
Macali said she tried zip-lining just to prove to them it was nothing to fear.
“I did it, like, six times,” she said.
Also out to prove something, to themselves and to each other, were Amanda Leone, 14, and Kamryn Kenneally, 13, both in eighth grade.
To zip-line, or not to zip-line?
“I don’t know. ... I want her to come with me,” said Amanda.
“C’mon, Kamryn, you’re fine!” said Dohar.
Kamryn wasn’t so sure about the landing. “What if you hit the ground?” she said. “That’s what I’m scared about. Going to the ground.”
On the platform, Wes Foster, project manager of Vehicle for Change, helped kids work the high ropes and readied them for the zip-line.
Foster said the organization was started in Columbus by former teachers 10 years ago. He said he was a middle-school teacher in Upper Arlington, but he always wanted to work outside.
He said the organization’s program teaches anti-bullying and how to build trust, and it gets kids out of their element.
On the ground, Amanda and Kamryn were glad they gave zip-lining a try.
“When I landed, it was pretty scary,” said Amanda. “But I would definitely do it again.”
“It was extremely fun,” Kamryn reported. Would she get back in line?
“I don’t know if I would go that far. ... Maybe ...”