Born Detroit, Michigan, July 1, 1939.
Learned to ride a bicycle at age 6. Flew kites, shot arrows into the air, made snowmen and snowballs, learned to hit, catch, and throw a baseball between ages 6 & 8. Age 7, invented P-nut butter and Jelly sandwich. Age 8, learned not to get near a dog’s food bowl as they think you will eat it. One bit me in the face…27 stitches around my eye and a 14 day regimen of rabies’ shots in the belly! Grades 4–6, finally learned the alphabet, times table to nine; how to run fast, kick a ball, and was voted my class president. I also learned to backpack and fish with my 5th and 6th grade teacher, Joan Kramer, and her husband, Ralph.
Fast forward to 1957.
I graduated from John Muir High School, played basket-ball, ran track and field events, pole vaulting 13’6” with a steel pole and running 1320 yds (3 laps on a track). Grades were low C’s. 1957–1960 I was at Pasadena City College, where I played basketball and baseball. I graduated with an AA degree in 1960 (Higher C’s). 1960, I enlisted in the U.S. Army. I chose to train as a Medical Corpsman, and graduated top five in my class. I was then assigned to Brook’s Army Medical Center, Ft. Sam Houston, Texas; the largest burn center hospital in the world. I was trained to save lives in the battlefield. I tried out for and made the basketball and baseball teams. Made All-Army Division in both sports. Met Karl “Skip” Rohnke and John Herbert in 1960. They were both medical corpsmen in the army. 1962–1963, I was reassigned to Yon-Ji-Gol, Korea, in the First Cavalry Division. I ran a Special Services Gymnasium for troops, coached football, and played basketball and baseball for 1st Cav. Division. I made All-Korea All-Star teams in both sports. 1963, I applied for baseball and basketball scholarships to California State Universities. I was accepted at Cal-State Long Beach. I played baseball and got hurt in basketball. Great seasons! In 1966, I met my beloved wife, Pamela Kay Born, in the gym at Long Beach. I graduated in 1967 with a BA in Physical Education, with a life time multiple-subject teaching credential. In 1968, I received a Master’s Degree in Physical and Health Education. (Straight A’s! Yeh!)
November 14, 1968, I married Pam.
Honeymooned from 1968–1971 in South Africa. Lived on game reserves and taught at Natal Technical College in Natal, Durban, Republic of So. Africa. I taught physical fitness classes to men and women, cricket, rugby, golf, tennis, gymnastics and basketball. I played on the South African National Basketball Team in test matches against Rhodesia. I coached the Women’s Nat. Basketball Team. August, 1971, we moved to Osnabruck, Germany; where Pam and I (and Joshua in the womb) lived in a tent at a camping place outside of town. Joshua was born Oct. 29, 1971 in Osnabruck, Germany. I got a teaching job in Munich, Germany working for the Department of Defense Overseas Schools. I taught Physical Education, grades K–6. In August, 1973, we transferred to Rota, Spain, and taught at Rota Naval Station for 12 years. I taught K–6 Physical Education, and coached high school volleyball, tennis, and track and field. I became a certified Red Cross life guard and then, a water safety instructor, and taught swimming to all 1,000 students at D.G.F. Elementary school.
Challenge Course Era.
1976, I attended a five-day, basic adventure training workshop with Karl Rohnke through Project Adventure. It was so fantastic that I returned to Rota and built my first challenge ropes course for the military personal next to the Marine training obstacle course, on the naval base. My wife helped me to build the course, and was my first test pilot on the high elements. I trained Marines on high ropes challenges, and invited school classes to come for team-building experiences until 1985. While at the navy base, I learned how to fly and land Cessna 150’s, as my wife had become a pilot. We flew around Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar and North Africa. 1978, our daughter, Saralyse, was born on the Naval Base. 1985, we moved to Grass Valley, California. I taught P.E. for two years at an elementary school, and built a challenge course there. I lead K-8th grade classes through team-building and high ropes course challenges. 1987, I was hired by Karl’s Project Adventure as the west coast representative. Karl built (with some help from me) the highest and largest challenge course in Grass Valley. It was a good training in safe building for me. I trained some staff members at the school to safely take their classes through the course. I developed a means of integrating the challenge course experience with the school curriculum. I co-lead basic adventure training, counseling and safety standards and practices workshops for Project Adventure until 1994, when I started my own company, On Course, Inc. I have installed over one hundred challenge courses all over the world. I run approximately 110 one-day workshops each year, and 10–15 multi-day, overnight training workshops. I inspect courses, and train staff members in all aspects of safe challenge course procedures. I have been the lead facilitator for over 3400 workshops, involving over one hundred thousand parti-cipants, ages 3 years to 87 years. I conduct specialized team-building workshops for the police, swat teams, firemen, and the military. I have worked with a variety of corporations, sports’ teams, private organizations, and individual families for celebrations. I have built high challenge courses for disabled individuals. I have written books on games, initiatives, and problem-solving scenarios; safety manuals and school curriculums; and Perfect Moments on the ropes course and in life.
Beth has been with On Course, Inc. since 1998. Playing and working with people in an outdoor setting is what she enjoys most about her work. She truly believes what Plato stated: “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”
She has over 20 years of experience working with youth in afterschool programs and urban teen centers, directing summer camps, leading wilderness trips, and facilitating challenge ropes courses. For the past 10 years, Beth has been an independent, experiential- and environmental-education trainer and consultant with a variety of organizations. She trains adults and staff members on topics such as working with youth and adolescents, environmental education activities, program development, and cooperative games/initiatives. She also designs site-specific program curricula and resources.
When Beth is not working at On Course, Inc., she is the Assistant Camp Director of OKIZU—a camp supporting families with childhood cancer—www.okizu.org.
I was born in 1944 in Santa Cruz, California. I was raised in Southern California (Torrance, the Redondo Beach area) and graduated high school in 1962. I worked in construction (framing) directly after high school, then enrolled in college at Long Beach State. I remained there for three years while working 30 to 35 hours a week as chief binderyman at a local printing shop. I thereafter enrolled at UCLA where I graduated in 1967 Summa Cum Laude with a degree in anthropology. I worked at the Lowie Museum of Anthropology (currently the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Museum of Anthropology) at UC Berkeley as head preparator until 1970.
During these three years I was also able to travel during leaves of absence. I traveled to and through Brazil as well as Japan, Thailand, Nepal, and India.
In 1971–72 I obtained my teaching credential from Cal State Dominguez Hills. I taught all subjects in the private Pacific School from 1972–1976, teaching grades 7–12.
In 1976 my family and I (wife, daughter, and son) moved to Lake Elsinore, California. I worked for a year at the Los Piños correctional facility for youth, then in the Lake Elsinore school district. There I taught 7th–10th grade special day class, then 1st–5th grade special day class, and for five years 2nd grade. In 1984 my family and I moved to Grass Valley, California. I became a teacher at Lyman Gilmore Middle School, where I taught 7th and 8th grade English and literature, 6th grade science and math, 5 years as Title One Instructor (English, math), 7th grade science, and, for the last five years, 7th and 8th grade math, also acting as head of the math department. I retired from teaching in 2002.
In addition to teaching, over the years I did extensive custom furniture building and worked in construction (structural building and remodeling).
In 1987 I met Adrian Kissler at a workshop he was conducting on the course he had built at Lyman Gilmore. That year I began volunteering and then working for Adrian as a facilitator, on weekends, holidays, and during the summer. I also worked with him on ropes course construction projects, helping build numerous challenge courses. While teaching I was for several years the “ropes course coordinator” for Lyman Gilmore, acting as training coordinator and experiential education facilitator, as well being responsible for buying and maintaining the school’s ropes course equipment. From 1987 to retirement I utilized experiential education, including the ropes course, in my classroom curriculum. During this time I also received training in adventure-based counseling from Project Adventure (introductory and advanced training) which I also utilized in the classroom.
Since “retirement” I’ve worked extensively year-round with Adrian and On Course, Inc., as facilitator, trainer, and builder. I’ve also worked for my son’s company, Tag Team Productions, in ropes course installation, workshop training, and facilitation, and in the fabrication and installation of amusement park rides he has engineered and developed (rides loosely based on ropes course elements, e.g., mechanical zip line and giant swing), which we have installed around the country at various venues.
I have continued to travel: Belize, Mexico, Costa Rica, Egypt, Africa, the Caribbean, etc. I continue to be an avid fly fisherman, both fresh and salt water. I also continue in my woodworking.
Carin’s passion is working with children of all ages, playing games and staying young at heart.
She has over 15 years of experience working with children, running a childcare, youth birthday parties & facilitating small group camp programs. She joined the On Course, Inc. team during the fall of 2011 after relocating to Grass Valley from San Francisco.
When Carin is not at On Course, Inc., she an active staff at Camp Okizu as the ropes course assistant director, lifeguard, and camp counselor.
Tim received a Bachelor’s Degree in Therapeutic Recreation from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. His experience and expertise throughout the years ranges from being a Rehabilitation Aide, Recreational Therapist, Challenge Ropes Course Trainer, Fitness Trainer, Adaptive Sports Facilitator, Habilitatio Technician, Youth Mentor, Recreation Facilitator, Camp Counselor, Youth Camp Mentor, Teacher’s Aide, and Assistant Basketball Coach for individuals with developmental disabilities.
Tim’s experience as a Challenge Ropes Course Facilitator has complemented his love for leading small groups through a variety of initiatives. He finds it refreshing to know that there are limitless opportunities at a challenge ropes course, for all age groups, to enhance problem-solving skills, trust, imagination, commitment, self-acceptance, self esteem, etc.
When he’s not at work with On Course, Inc., he is often discovering the back roads of the beautiful Sierras with his energetic son or running Nat Fit –– an outdoor physical training program that is “A Playful Fusion of Nature & Fitness.” www.natfit.net
Jay started with On Course, Inc., as a facilitator and builder in 2006 and enjoys being in the trees whenever he can.
He loves spending time with his daughters and is a Master Instructor and owner of Mixed Martial Arts Studio: www.perrysfullcircle.com.
Eric has been involved in outdoor leadership and experiential education for 10 years. His experience with youth leadership development includes sports teams, school leadership groups, at-risk youth groups, last-chance youth groups and physically-challenged oncology patients and siblings. Eric also has experience with corporate clients as well as public service clients.
In addition to his experience as a team builder, consultant, and facilitator, Eric is an accomplished ropes course builder, ski coach, mountain biker and backpacker.
Corporate clients include: Merck Incorporated, Wells Fargo Banking, Sutter Health Leadership Academy, Raleys Family of Fine Stores, and In and Out Burger.
Higher Educational clients include: Stanford University, the University of CA Davis, CA State University Sacramento, Sacramento City College, and the National Student leadership conference.
Public Service Clients include: the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Sacramento County Sheriffs Department, Families First, the US Air Force ROTC, Camp Okizu, Folsom Parks and Recreation, 4-H, the Placer County Youth Diversion, the Boy Scouts of America, the cities of Woodland, Rocklin, and Sacramento.
"Goals, whether personal of professional, are achieved through risk. The primary goal of every program I facilitate is to help participants learn to assess risks and take responsibility for making personal choices."
Although he has a long history as a youth leader, kayaking, climbing, and skiing instructor, and summer camp counselor, Hunter now focuses on adult learning outcomes and leadership development opportunities provided by experiential education and programming. He is pursuing a Master's degree in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration from California State University, Sacramento, on the impact of ropes courses on Leadership Development Programs.
A list of California-area educational clients includes: California State University, Sacramento, the University of Southern California; Stanford University; Butte College; the University of California at Davis, UC Riverside, UC Irvine, and UC Berkeley; and University of the Pacific.
As a corporate facilitator and trainer, Hunter's client list includes: Travis Air Force Base, Hewlett-Packard Corporation, Merck Incorporated, Daimler-Chrysler, Panattoni Development Company, Wells-Fargo, and the Target Distribution Center. Public service sector clients include the California Department of Conservation, the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, the Office of the Inspector General, CALPERS, Americorps, and the Army Corps of Engineers.
He and his wife Lori are the proud parents of two beautiful children, Eben and Sunny. They live in Sacramento, California.
(Learn more at www.huntermerritt.com)
Tanya started working with On Course, Inc., in 1997. She delights in helping teams recognize their growth potential. Teams especially appreciate the positive feedback that she provides throughout programs. Energetic, fun, and warm, Tanya quickly puts groups at ease and gently draws out each participant.
Tanya is deeply committed to ongoing education and works tirelessly to increase her skills. She has acquired an M.A. in Recreation Administration, dual bachelor degrees in Psychology and Business, and certiﬁcation in wilderness-ﬁrst-response, life-guarding, skiing, and personal training.
A natural “teacher,” Tanya has honed her leadership skills as a whitewater rafting guide and trainer. In her spare time, Tanya volunteers for several non-proﬁt organizations.
Currently, Tanya also enjoys working as a fitness instructor at Exertec, a ski instructor at Alpine Meadows, a ropes course director at Camp Okizu, and as a personal coach and motivational speaker with Innercoach.org when not ON COURSE.
On Course, Inc., is a company that installs challenge courses all over the world—from California to Hawaii to Spain, trains challenge course owners in all issues of safety and facilitating, and is actively involved in setting standards and procedures for the challenge course industry.
We've been in business now for over three decades and have grown to become a leader in adventure programming. Our workshops are usually held amongst the pines near Grass Valley, in Northern California, but we can also travel to your site. Please contact us for more details.
We design each workshop to meet your specific needs. Whether it's just a day of fun and play or addressing serious issues, the combination of problem-solving scenarios, physically and mentally stimulating initiatives, and low and high ropes-course elements enhances team-building and self-confidence.
COME - COMMIT - CRAWL - CLIMB - COMMUNICATE
We'll Help You Get...ON COURSE!!
LOW & HIGH CHALLENGE ROPES COURSE
With great inner pleasure and pride, not with temerity, do I set forth to chronicle the appreciable progress in the growth and manifestation of Grass Valley’s challenge ropes course. It behooves me to start this ledger, which I have long had in mind, but I am at last happy to settle down to the project and to enjoy at least a short metaphorical chat.
We are situated in the Sierra Nevada lower foothill mountain range. Our elevation is at the 2404 foot level. Summers are warm and dry, with average temperatures from 80° to 90° F. Winters are cool—average minimum 22° to 34° F. Precipitation is 25” to 80”, with some snow, little summer rain, and a growing season from four to seven months. In other words, a little part of Adventure Paradise.
We are in the Yellow Pine Belt zone. Our major tree population is the Ponderosa Pine (Yellow Pine), towering up to 150’ high. We have some Incense Cedars, Black Oaks, and one lone Sugar Pine. Most all of our course is involved with Ponderosas. Oaks range in age from seedlings to 120 years, the Pines from babies to 70 years. Manzanita is our most prolific shrub (Brush Tree).
Striped Skunks, Black-tailed Jack Rabbits, California Grey Squirrels (and a black lab who chases them), Raccoons and the ever-abundant Black-tailed Deer inhabit our area and co-exist with our workshop participants. The squirrels are the most agile climbers and the most destructive creatures on the course, as they chew the haul cords monthly for remodeling materials used in nest making. It has been my main goal (non-Caddyshack style) in life to render these creatures “Be gone” from my area. (Actually it’s their home!) I have used repel-horse manure—and all sorts of other home remedies to run off these nimble-footed creatures. (Environmentalists note: By run off, I mean repel these furry creatures from the trees with the haul cords). To date the most effective solution has been soaking the cords in hot chili oil. The squirrels thusly can use the trees, yet not trespass or chew on the haul cords. (Haul cords are 1/8” nylon rope that we leave in the trees. We use this line to pull up our belay ropes when we climb.)
Our 44 acres are due west of the Lyman Gilmore Middle School, Mrs. Linda Breninger, principal (O.C. supporter excalibur). Lyman Gilmore is an historical landsite, being the first commercial airport west of the Mississippi. Old Lyman was an eccentric aviator, rumored to have flown before the Wright Brothers. He set the atmosphere for flight in these woods, and we carry on the gravity-defying aerobatics.
In this case, BIGGER IS BETTER. We are the most extensive course on Planet Earth, with 72 elements to date and growing. We are likewise the highest course: Our 80’ Pamper Plank is a heart-thumper. A 106’ tree climb and rappel is exhilarating and fatiguing. The Cat Walk (logwalk) is at 42’. We’ll pull you up to 65’ in our blast-off Flying Squirrel. The Dangle Duo is up to 93’: this one-of-a-kind large-runged ladder, with steps placed from 3–5’ apart, is designed for two climbers and two belayers at once. Premature evaluation usually prevents conception (completion) of this teamwork scramble. The Play-Pen, our newest innovation, has you climbing three tires, around wood rungs, cable, rope ladders and other obstacles to get to the 70’ plateau. While the high stuff may be the most spectacular-looking, our most challenging and demanding body manipulators are the low elements. Number one on body grouping is the hour glass (X marks the spot): crossed 3/4’ multi-line, set at 2’ and 7’ heights between two trees some 10 yards apart. The goal is to go from Tree A to Tree B with only hand and foot contact. Our Rock, Log and Tree traverse ends on the Bouncing Log; a group tied together navigating this treachery takes teamwork, compassion and choreographed footwork. Table Manners, crawling under and atop a table, or transporting one around this table, is still another Grass Valley site game. We also have a Tension Traverse, Mohawk Walk, Wild Woosie, Seesaw, Hickory Drive, Nitro Crossing, King & Queen Ring Fingers, Swinging Log, Multi-Vine, 8’ Beam, Dirt Rappel, Muese, Log Jam, Maypole, Seagull Swing, Maze, Rebirth, and the Chain Reaction (10 low elements in a circular configuration).
The Lyman Gilmore Middle School’s Challenge Ropes Course was installed by Karl Rohnke (President of Project Adventure in 1987).
Adrian Kissler, President of On Course, Inc. was the ground technician.
From 1998 to date Adrian Kissler has installed 3 times the number of high and low elements with the help of Katy Anderson, Jammie McIntosh and Jim Palombo.
All installations meet or exceed A.C.C.T. and C.A.C.C.T.T.A.S. standards for Challenge Courses.