An error (Object reference not set to an instance of an object.) was encountered trying to format content from PageUrl=/en/Static-Content/alert.htm Close Message
Milwaukee Public Schools Logo: High-quality school options for 3-year-olds to high school seniors
Main Content

Ropes and Challenges

MPS Ropes and Challenges Program Resources during COVID-19

The Ropes and Challenges Program is excited to announce additional resources for families that focus on social-emotional learning (SEL). These activities will provide families and staff with additional ways to engage the students in fun challenges and questions focusing on developing SEL skills. 

Family Activities and Resources

Family Activities and Resources – Week 2

Fun Family Videos!


The MPS ropes and challenges education curriculum is based on the experiential learning model and takes a sequential approach in activities designed to help individuals and groups develop/enhance positive social skills such as

  • teamwork,
  • listening,
  • cooperating,
  • effective communication, and
  • problem solving.

Key Components of the MPS Ropes and Challenges Curriculum

The Full Value Contract brings structure to the activities and emphasizes physical and emotional safety as well as responsibility for all of the participants.

Activities allow participants to make discoveries on their own.

In processing, thoughtful and guided reflection before/during/after activities helps students make meaning.

Through generalization, students apply new skills in other settings in school, home, and community.

Because the program's emphasis is on skills development and emotional and physical safety, only those groups that have completed at least 6–8 prep sessions with a trained MPS ropes facilitator may come to the course.

Ropes Course Staffing and Training

MPS ropes and challenges facilitators participate in a week-long training that covers

  • basic technical skills for safe operation of low and high elements,
  • belaying skills,
  • processing skills needed for effective and safe facilitation,
  • safety procedures at the course, and
  • ground and school-based activities that can be used during prep sessions with student groups.

MPS Ropes and Challenges: History

Located on the north end of Whitnall Park and Boerner Botanical Gardens, Potter’s Forest is the home of the Milwaukee Public Schools ropes and challenges course.

In 1994, a collaborative effort involving MPS staff from the Departments of Curriculum and Instruction, Special Education and Supportive Services, School-to-Work, Community Recreation, Facilities and Maintenance, and Insurance and Risk Management was organized to develop a new ropes and challenges education program for MPS students and staff. After a tour of the site, the selection committee immediately chose Potter's Forest as the prime location for the ropes and challenges course. In the spring of 1995, the first elements of the course were installed, and staff began training. Program implementation with students began in the fall of 1995.

Since its inception, the MPS ropes and challenges course has served over 60,000 students, including students with significant developmental disabilities. One of the unique features of the course is that it was designed to be accessible to students with a variety of special needs, including students with orthopedic impairments, visual impairments, and cognitive delays.

Read a more detailed history of the land and Potter’s Forest.

Due to risk management and liability issues, the MPS ropes and challenges course at Potter’s Forest is open ONLY to MPS traditional schools and MPS instrumentality charter schools.

Ropes and Challenges Course Contacts

Ropes Co-Coordinator/Planning Assistant III:
Frank Palmisano
Phone: 414-267-1889

Ropes Co-Coordinator:
Nancy Reuter
Phone: 414-267-1890

Student Wellness

Curriculum Specialist:

Carlos Rodriguez
Student Wellness and Prevention
Phone: 414-267-1892

900 W. Walnut  Street, Room 133
Milwaukee, WI 53205

Please wait while we gather your results.
© Milwaukee Public Schools 2023
To top