Discovery Ranch Olympic Games 2018

by Trenna Ahlstrom


While the weather in Utah turned cold, the creativity in the Ropes Coordinator Team heated up. The boys of Discovery Ranch have participated in their own Olympic Games.

The Discovery Ranch Olympics started in early February. Recreational Therapists (RTs), Tessa Olsen, Jenica Limb, and Megan Stotts, chose to create their own Olympics for a variety of reasons.


Turning Struggle into Strength

One reason was to take advantage of the excitement surrounding the 2018 Olympic Games. By participating in their own Olympic Games, the boys have the opportunity to draw inspiration from the Olympic athletes. Tessa suggested that many of the boys have confronted similar obstacles, which they are in the process of learning how to overcome.

“There is so much inspiration that can be drawn from the stories of these athletes,” said Tessa. “Many of [the Olympic athletes] have had debilitating injuries that they have overcome and become the best in their field.  Similar to the hardships that we and each of the boys face, we are hoping that [the boys] learn that they can turn their hardships and obstacles into their strengths.”


Learning to Make Plans

Also, each group of boys will have a turn planning the activities. This means they experience both the freedom planning their own event and learn necessary managerial skills as they plan out rules for their activity.

“It teaches them how to plan and carry out something,” said Ms. Limb. Often, the boys gain a better appreciation for the challenges of planning an activity.


Reaching Therapeutic Goals

In addition, for each event, there is also a therapeutic goal. The RTs do not tell the boys what the therapeutic goal is until the event is over.  After the event, the boys learn the therapeutic goal. For example, a goal might be teamwork. Then, the boys vote for the team that best demonstrated teamwork. The teams voted as best exemplifying the goal have extra points that are added to their scores.


Having Fun

Some events that have already taken place include an outdoor luge-inspired event. Boys broke up into teams of two. One boy rode on a longboard while the other boy steered him through an obstacle course of orange traffic cones. The smiles on the boy’s faces showed how much they enjoyed this event.

Another event is “Wimblemen”. This game is a combination of tennis and volleyball. In this event, the boys have large rubber balls which they toss to each other across tennis nets. There was a lot of laughter as the boys served balls to each other during “Wimblemen”. Other Olympic games have included swimming, trips to the recreation center, chair soccer, and a rock climbing wall race.

The Discovery Ranch Olympics will last until the end of March. When the games are concluded, there will be a closing ceremony where Bronze, Silver, and Gold medals will be awarded. Then, all of the teams will celebrate.

By the end of the games, each of the boys will have had the opportunity to practice planning, enjoy many different games, and think critically about a variety of therapeutic goals. The boys will have the pleasure of these learning experiences due to the creativity of the Ropes Coordinator Team.