Annual COPE/Climbing Inspections, Zip Line Regulations

The BSA’s National Camp Accreditation Program (NCAP) require professional challenge course inspections each year. To help reduce the cost of these inspections and to bring consistency to the process, councils in some regions have banded together to contract group inspections by area or even multiple areas.

In most cases, COPE and Climbing Area Advocates are willing to assist with this process. This approach can dramatically reduce travel and lodging costs as compared with every council contracting these services individually.

Councils and/or groups of councils are encouraged to make the most of their investment in these services by using the Request for Proposal form and General Contract Guidelines that were recently re-published after review by the COPE & Climbing Task Force and BSA Legal Department.

Temporary Zip Lines and Zip Lines Over Water

NCAP standards require all facilities for COPE or climbing activities to be constructed, inspected, and operated according to NCAP and ACCT standards. These standards apply to all council and district activities at any location at any time of the year. Temporary zip lines that are used at camporees, recruiting events, or other council or district activities fall under the NCAP requirements. If contractors are used to provide these activities, then they and their personnel must follow NCAP and ACCT standards as well.

These requirements are intended to provide for the safety and well-being of everyone involved in these activities and to help councils avoid costly litigation that may result from poorly-run activities that result in injuries. No one sends their child off to a scouting activity with the expectation that they will be injured.

Some activities, such as pioneering activities, obstacle courses, and some low-speed, low-height aquatics activities that are similar to small zip lines do not need to meet all of the requirements that full COPE or climbing activities do. However, the NCAP standards point out that these facilities should be constructed similar to those used for COPE or climbing facilities, and should be operated under the supervision of qualified staff.

Your council COPE and climbing committee is an excellent resource to provide guidance and staff training for those activities. Each BSA region has a COPE and climbing chairperson, and every BSA area has a COPE and climbing advocate who are available to help answer questions and provide guidance for councils.

The use of a risk assessment for new activities and/or those temporary set ups is strongly encouraged. NCAP standard PD-111 and PD-112 cover this in detail and list resources like the Program Hazard Analysis to evaluate new or modified programs. In addition, an Event Checklist can be found in the “Guide to Safe Scouting” to assist in planning for success.

The National COPE and Climbing Task Force also is available to assist local councils. The best way to contact the task force is through Keith Christopher in the Outdoor Programs/Properties Department.


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Annual COPE/Climbing Inspections, Zip Line Regulations
Annual COPE/Climbing Inspections, Zip Line Regulations
Annual COPE/Climbing Inspections, Zip Line Regulations