2012-01-21_COPE/Climbing Committee Meeting


COPE/Climbing Interest Notes: 2012-01-21

  1. Introduction of Attendees
Name COPE/Climbing Program Status
Brian Greek COPE Instructor/youth (expires 31 May 2012)
Denise Vowell COPE Director (retired)
Dick Fonda Scouter, COPE/Climbing program interest
Jimmy Fonda COPE Instructor/youth (expires 31 May 2012)
Liz Jevitts COPE Director (NCS, June 2010)
Lynn Kaltwasser Climbing Director (NCS, ?)
Pat Horton COPE Director (expired 2009)
Reggie Cahoon CWBS, Program Director
NCAC POC for COPE and Climbing/Rappelling
Shannon Hoff COPE Instructor/youth (expires 31 May 2012)
Simon Cronjé Climbing Instructor (PA, 2011?)
Tony Waisanen COPE Instructor (expires 31 May 2012)
Will Rodger Scouter, COPE/Climbing program interest

Invited, but unable to attend

Name COPE/Climbing Program Status
David Rinonos COPE Director (NCS, June 2010)
Joe Grant COPE Instructor (expires 31 May 2012?)
Mary Grant COPE Instructor (expires 31 May 2012?)
Nina Woody COPE Instructor (expires 31 May 2012)
Robert L. Guynn Committee member, Will Rodger's troop 131
Rose Broberg COPE Instructor (expires 31 May 2012?)
Tom Osterhoudt COPE Instructor (expires May 2012?)
Walt Munyan COPE Director (expires?)
  1. Discussion
  • According to the Project COPE manual, Boy Scout Councils are required to provide facilities and training, and to establish a committee for COPE and Climbing/Rappelling. The National Capitol Area Council (NCAC) does not have an active committee. [All attendees agreed to be members of the NCAC COPE and Climbing/Rappelling Committee. We invite anyone who could not attend and would like to be a member to indicate by sending an e-mail to Tony Waisanen with an indication of how you will support the committee. At this time, your request for membership will be considered sufficient to be considered a member.]
  • NCAC requires trained and currently certified COPE instructors and climbing/rappelling directors and instructors. Instructors could be developed, but need facilities and certified / experienced directors. Current BSA policy will only certify directors who have attended extensive and expensive session at National Camp School (NCS). NCAC cannot change or modify this policy. In the 2011, NCAC BSA professionals to attend NCS but these professionals experienced conflicts with their professional duties that made it impossible to provide organizational and staffing support to the NCAC COPE and Climbing/Rappelling program. These certified professionals could provide adjunct support, but volunteers are needed to provide the principal roles and effort. [Council may support BSA non-professional volunteers, but will require compensation in terms of program support (details to be determined). Members of the COPE and Climbing/Rappelling Committee who wish to be considered for sponsorship should contact Reggie Cahoon or Tony Waisanen indicating what they will commit to support. Members who are currently certified are asked to please send a scan of their proof of certification to Reggie Cahoon. Lynn Kaltwasser volunteered to be the Chairman; his climbing certification meets the criteria.]
  • Units need a point of contact (POC) for NCAC Project COPE and Climbing. [Resolved: POC is Reggie Cahoon.]
  • The COPE course at Camp WB Snyder (CWBS) was last inspected in 2010. Per the 2012 Project COPE and Climbing/Rappelling National Standards, the program facilities must be inspected at least every two years to ensure compliance with applicable Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) standards. Current rules stipulate that a course may use the individual elements that pass inspection; a course is not disqualified if a single element fails. [Prior to end of April 2012, the course will be professionally inspected. The meeting attendees (representing the NCAC Project COPE and Climbing committee) agreed to meet at Camp WB Snyder the morning of 4 Feb 2012 to inspect the COPE course. An objective of this inspection is to determine which elements would suffice to provide a minimum offering for a COPE program.]
  • Attendance at COPE events has plummeted in recent years; attendance at Goshen summer camps was in the hundreds but now is in the tens. However, there is growing interest demand in the Washington DC metro area for team building exercises based on ropes courses based on discussions with the George Mason University and Camp Highroads. Perhaps the cause is education (what does COPE offer Scout units). [Not resolved. At the next University of Scouting (25 Feb), Denise will lead a session on COPE and Lynn will present Climbing/Rappelling as currently planned to be supported within NCAC.]
  • Though Climb On Safely (COS) provides good, basic information regarding climbing, the information is not sufficient for delivering a safe climbing program. Many meeting attendees could cite examples when they observed units climbing dangerously (not using proper knots, improper belaying techniques, not using safety gear particularly helmets) but with tour permits/plans approved by NCAC and led by leaders whose sole climbing expertise was personal experience and having taken COS. This puts NCAC at risk for liability and the program at risk of being perceived as too dangerous for youth. [Issues are beyond the scope of this initial meeting. Should be worked by the committee and addressed by whoever is approving tour plans for NCAC.]
  • Climbing gear is expensive. It also wears out and ages out resulting in a recurring expense. Not all units can afford this recurring expense. In the past, NCAC would loan equipment to units who demonstrated competency and would properly document gear use (as specified in the Project COPE and Climbing/Rappelling National Standards). Unless NCAC can provide training and mentoring in climbing/rappelling, only wealthier units will be able to provide program. [Issue is beyond the scope of this initial meeting. Should be worked by the committee. Lynn Kaltwasser volunteered to be the POC in NCAC for climbing issues.]
  • The CWBS COPE course was constructed prior to at least two significant events; the current Prince William County zoning rules and the loop road from the main parking lot of CWBS to the cabins. These, plus others, resulted in disbursing the high elements of the COPE course (particularly the Pamper Pole and Flying Squirrel) and lack of a climbing tower. As a result, setup and delivery of a program with high elements requires a high staffing burden (certified adult instructors cannot concurrently support multiple high elements), program throughput is relatively low because of time to walk between elements, maintenance is expensive since no elements (with the exception of the Giant’s Ladder / Centipede) share infrastructure. Also, the Zip Line is a particularly “heavy lift” because participants must be belayed to the start, assisted at the end, and the running gear run back to the start. [Issue is beyond the scope of this initial meeting. The committee will inspect the course in February, and report to NCAC.]
  • The NCAC Shooting Sports Committee is developing a shotgun range at CWBS. The Flying Squirrel high element is outside the range, but visually in line. [Issue is beyond the scope of this initial meeting. The committee will inspect the course in February, and report to NCAC.]
  • What COPE and climbing/rappelling program will the volunteers in NCAC be willing to support? Generally speaking, the attending volunteers will support a range of programs, from introductory (two hours, “taste of COPE/Climbing” for Venturing Rendezvous and camporees), to midrange (one day, discovering leadership for provisional crews), to multi-day/overnights (full COPE and instructor training). No one expressed an interest in supporting “play on high elements” if the required commitment was equal to providing meaningful program (program with reflection). Can NCAC financially commit to supporting this scope of program support? [Issue resolution was beyond the scope of this initial meeting. Issue needs to be refined, alternatives identified and evaluated, and plan of action developed.]
  1. Action Items
  • Distribute meeting notes. (Tony Waisanen)
  • Re-establish the NCAC COPE and Climbing/Rappelling committee. (All members)
  • Make available the 2012 Project COPE and Climbing/Rappelling National Standards (Lynn Kaltwasser)
  • Provide Reggie (etc.) copies of syllabi from COPE Training Sessions (Denise Vowell)
  • Investigate possibility of sharing Council climbing equipment with units (Reggie Cahoon)
  • Send scans of certification cards to Reggie (All currently active COPE and Climbing Directors)
  • Investigate details for NCAC scholarships to NCS for COPE and Climbing/Rappelling directors (NCS locations and dates, commitments NCAC will require, compensation in event of failing to deliver commitment, etc). (Reggie Cahoon)
  • Contact Area 6 VOA and ensure expectations for the CWBS COPE course can be supported. (Tony Waisanen)
  • Plan for 5 May 2012 COPE Instructors Course (Denise Vowell to advise, Reggie Cahoon and committee to develop)
  • Identify others who should be involved? (All; please spread the word about committee being reformed.)
  1. Schedule
  • 4 Feb 2012 - NCAC COPE and Climbing/Rappelling committee inspects CWBS course. Objective is to identify elements that are operational, elements that could be operational (with specified remediation effort), and elements that should be relocated (with recommendations and justification). Also, need to review status of paperwork and draft a schedule for COPE and Climbing/Rappelling program in 2012/2013.
  • 20-22 Apr 2012 – Venture Phenomena (COPE elements are on the schedule). As far as the attendees know, Area 6 organizers will provide the necessary staff; NCAC is not obligated beyond identifying the available elements (e.g., passed inspection) for the event.
  • 5 May 2012 (tentative) – COPE Instructors Course at CWBS. Specifics to be defined.
  1. Summary

A good meeting. But there are many more issues that need to be worked. We need a committed, effective, and sustainable committee.