Scouterhorn, COPE, and COFFFEE & TEA

What can be done with the Scouterhorn:

  • Recruiting

Are you looking for a “hands-on” way to promote your programs? Consider using our 24′ mobile climbing tower, the Scouterhorn. Unit leaders can become trained tower operators, then rent the Scouterhorn for unit and district events. At least two adults must be trained, one of whom must agree to be the person in charge—the Lead Instructor (referred to by Spectrum Sports, the manufacturer of the Scouterhorn, as "Climb Master")—and responsible for safe operation and reporting of all incidents, even near misses.

  • Teach the Climbing Merit Badge

If you are a Climbing Merit Badge counselor, we would like to show you how the Scouterhorn can be used to satisfy all the climbing, belaying, and rappelling requirements for the badge. That training also qualifies you to be a Lead Instructor.

  • On 18 to 23 July 2022, Camp Snyder staff assisted in offering the Climbing Merit Badge during Camp Snyder Scouts BSA Specialty Week 2022. Of the 70+ adults who are registered as Climbing Merit Badge counselors, none were available. Of the many adults who have Level 1 and Level 2 climbing instructor, none were available. But 7 of 8 youth managed to fulfill the requirements that week! 
    • All climbers were able to tie themselves onto the climbing rope using a figure 8 follow-through. Some benefitted from clips from the best video I've found for teaching this knot. Click here for the clips and links to the original source.
    • Each day, two of the four routes were rigged for climbing and rappelling. In accordance with BSA standards, each rappel rope was connected to a releasable rappel. Why? In the event the rappeller gets stuck (e.g., something gets jammed in the rappel device). The rappel rope goes from the ground, up through rappel rings at the top of the tower, and down to an anchor allowing a belayer to feed out rope (and lower the rappeller to the ground). We recommend the knot at the anchor be a Munter Mule Overhand (MMO).
      • Click here for some photos of using a Munter Mule Overhand on the Scouterhorn.
      • ​The Munter Mule Combination Hitch at Animated Knots is fine EXCEPT they tie off the Mule with a half-hitch. We prefer an overhand knot where the goes AROUND the knot then UP (not across). Also, the preferred finish is to connect a carabiner through the loop and around the rope; fully demonstrating to a concerned rappeller that the rope will NOT come untied unless necessary.
  • In 2023, if the badge will be offered, it must not rely on the availability of camp staff.

How to use the Scouterhorn

  • Get trained to set up, operate, and take down

Standards require operators to have COPE and Climbing Foundations Level 1 and 2, and manufacturer’s training.

  • National Capital Area Council (NCAC) training has two parts, on-line and hands-on.
    • The online training is at In order to sign up for the training, send your name, phone number, district, and email address to If you have a preferred username (i.e., string of lower case letters and numbers), please include it. We will create an account for you.
      • When you’ve completed looking at all the material and you got 100% on the tests, you are ready for the hands-on assessment.
      • You will be expected to be familiar with the Scouterhorn Guides. Click here to access the Google Drive.
    • You can get a hands-on assessment when a qualified trainer and the Scouterhorn are available.
      • Training typically is offered during Family Camping Days at Camp Snyder. You should be able to find those dates on the NCAC Calendar ( or call the staff at Camp Snyder.
      • On some occasions, a trainer could be available to provide just-in-time assessments at unit events, particularly camporees and events like the Trout-o-Ree. Contact for details. Please put “Scouterhorn Training” in the subject line.
      • Occasionally, a training opportunity will pop up. The COPE and Climbing Committee will try to recall who requested, but the better option is to contact your DE, or have your DE request training for a group of volunteers.
    • Modes of operation: there are three modes of operation:
      • “Mechanical kiddie ride”: Use only the auto-belays. Expect high throughput but high likelihood of some climbers being frustrated by not getting to press the buzzer due to lack of strength, stamina, or technique.
        • One Lead Instructor with an assistant instructor and at least three staff are required to safely operate the Scouterhorn at maximum capacity. A Lead Instructor cannot expect to mitigate risks if they are providing direct support.
      • Belay Assist: Registered climbing ropes are threaded through rapid links on routes #1 & 4. Competent belayers enable climbers to stop and rest, and continue to climb. Climbers who lack strength, stamina, or technique can succeed.
        • The hands-on assessment will include belaying using the PBUS method (pull-brake-under-slide)
        • One Lead Instructor with an assistant instructor and at least five staff are required to safely operate the Scouterhorn at maximum capacity.
      • Fully Manual: Two routes (#1 and #4, or #2 and #3) are configured to support climbing and rappelling with registered climbing ropes (75’ long) and registered rappel ropes (100’ long). Climbers climb as high as they want while belayed, connect to the rappel rope, and rappel down. This mode supports the requirements in the Climbing Merit Badge.
        • The hands-on assessment will include belaying using the PBUS method, configuring releasable rappels, and teaching "ground school" for transitioning to rappel.
        • One Lead Instructor with an assistant instructor and at least five staff are required to safely operate the Scouterhorn at maximum capacity.
  • The manufacturer training consists of online videos and the owner / operator’s manual.
  • NOTE: At the current time, the "cost" of receiving training is service. We expect each person who has received training will gladly commit to providing operational help for a Council-led event at least one day a year. Examples of Council-led events are Family Camp and Camp Snyder Scouts BSA Specialty Week.

Preparation work

  • Reserving the Scouterhorn

  1. Send email to Stephanie Messenger ( requesting to book the Scouterhorn for the dates required. Be sure to include the date you will pick up the Scouterhorn and gear, and when you will return it.
    1. Please advise whether your unit / group has trained tower operators and who they are. We can check to ensure they were trained.
    2. If the Scouterhorn must be transported off Camp Snyder, please ensure your District Executive (DE) is willing to use the "Captain America" truck (the Ford F250 truck included in the Scouterhorn donation), or if you have a volunteer who is willing. The towing specifications are not all in the Operations and Owner Manual, such as tongue weight and towing weight:
      • Travel Dimensions: 28’10″L x 7’6″W x 9’5″H (874cm L x 228cm W x 286cm H)
      • Operating Dimensions: 29’10″L x 9’7″W x 24’6″H (908cm L x 291cm W x 747cm H)
      • 4800 lbs (2177kg) total weight
      • 600 lbs (272kg) tongue weight
      • 2 5/16″ ball bumper pull hitch
      • 7-Prong Electrical Plug
      • 15″ wheels
      • Full size spare tire
      • 3500 lbs (1587kg) torsion axles
  2. Stephanie / Camp Snyder will send a personalized payment link to your unit contact to collect the remainder of the information needed and the payment for your rental.
  • Get permits (if necessary)

    • Permit requirements depend on the location and climbers. The state of MD, the Commonwealth of VA, and the District of Columbia had different requirements. Generally, however, if the only people allowed to climb are members of BSA, no permits are required. If you plan to allow non-members on the Scouterhorn, you have homework.
    • Maryland: The Maryland Department of Labor defines the codes for operating amusement devices. You will need to follow the process for requesting an inspection and send your completed Inspection Request Form to the Safety Inspection Unit office either by fax (410-333-7683) or you may scan the document and email it to at LEAST 30 days prior to your event. [Click here for a partially completed form.] [NOTE: new email address in 2023.]
      • Specify the date, time, and location the Scouterhorn will be set up and ready for operation. If you're not ready when the inspector arrives, the inspector may cancel the inspection. Same could happen if they cannot find you.
      • Copies of the recent inspection and certification of liability insurance are in the operations binder. Strongly recommend you confirm those reports are in the binder and you know what they look like before you leave Camp Snyder. If you don't have cellular access at your location, we won't be able to transfer electronic files (or offer guidance).
    • Virginia: The code for operating amusement devices is under the Department of Housing. Each jurisdiction is allowed to define how the jurisdiction implements the code. For example, Camp Snyder is near Haymarket in Prince William County. Camp Snyder is its own jurisdiction. Haymarket is another jurisdiction, and Prince William County is a jurisdiction. No permit required for Camp Snyder. But to operate the Scouterhorn in the city of Haymarket, the operators would need to contact the officials responsible for housing permits for Haymarket to find their current requirements.
    • DC: We have not yet found the specific requirements for their permitting process. The interest in using the Scouterhorn in the District has always evaporated when the a question is asked: "Who will transport the Scouterhorn to and from the District and Camp Snyder?"


What is Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience (COPE) in NCAC:

NCAC has three COPE courses, Camp Post (Goshen Scout Reservation (GSR), Goshen, VA), Camp Wall (St Croix, US Virgin Islands), and Camp William B Snyder (Haymarket, VA). Of these, we maintain only the course (and climbing tower) at Camp Post, GSR and have it inspected. The site at GSR supports summer camp and an occasional Order of the Area gathering. On special events, such as family camps on Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend, we use one or two elements. When we have enough staff, we also use the climbing tower. The site is too remote to currently use for training staff.

COPE at Camp Wall:

There is no interest currently from NCAC leadership in enabling Camp Wall to offer COPE. First, there is not enough demand to show we would get enough income to cover costs. Second, the elements have not been maintained for years, so the cost of bringing them up to standards is high. Third, at least one person would need to be COPE Director trained at NCS. They would need to train enough staff to offer COPE.

COPE at Camp William B Snyder (CWBS):

We have a similar situation at Camp Snyder. That course is in an unused part of the property which is out of sight of the other programs. It is not possible to see a COPE session in progress. According to Scouters who were included in the discussions back at the turn of the century, the Chief Executive, Ron Carroll, wanted the course where it could be seen from Highway 66. That vision was lost over the years so trees now block the view. However, the participants can focus on the session without distractions. But that means only the staff and participants are aware of what is possible. To others, "The course is never used."

The majority of people who ask for COPE want the program provided for them. The program is expected to include elements, but a qualified inspector must approve those elements before using them for training or service.

We need trained, qualified, and available staff to use the course. We can train facilitators in games and challenges which do not need elements. When there is enough interest to have a cadre of staff, we can renew the plan for a self-sustainable, funded program. High elements provide a personal thrill which comes at a high cost. High course elements are excellent for helping people learn a critical life skill, managing false events appearing real (F.E.A.R.). Those elements can also help people learn to trust (and the consequences of not being trustworthy).

Essentially, gear and elements are the lures used to capture imaginations and hold focus long enough so learning occurs. The majority of benefits of COPE comes from working with people; team building. Very little gear is needed, but It does require commitment of time and willingness to learn to help.


Your council COPE committee is developing a COPE-like approach towards team-building for families. It's called Challenging Outdoor Fun-Filled Family-Engaged Experiences (COFFFEE) and Team Enhancing Activities (TEA). It's a work in progress. John and Julia Lesko are leading that effort (you may hear of them). We do not yet offer training in COFFFEE or TEA. When we have sufficient interest, we'll offer opportunities.



Size (MB) File Description
0.58 Amusement_Inspection_Request-MD Template for request for inspection (when used in MD). There is no template for requesting inspections in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
0.11 Certificate of Liability Insurance March 2024 to March 2025 CoLI (copy is in the white 3-ring binder)
0.20 Maryland_Inspection_Request_Form Partially completed form. Needs details about the location, date, time, and on-site contact.
3.85 Mobile_Climbing_Wall_Manual-Rev_3_11-full Owner/operator manual (copy is in the lockbox on the trailer)
0.07 Scouterhorn_Inspection_Checklist Checklist for inspection items when Scouterhorn is used (be sure to send a photo of completed checklist to
1.25 Scouterhorn-Cable_Inspections-Spectrum_Sports Report of most recent annual inspection and replacement of the cables (copy is in the white 3-ring binder)
0.48 ScouterhornFlyer2024 Flyer on the Scouterhorn (current as of 2024)
0.41 Scouterhorn-Gear_Checklist Checklist for gear to take when using the Scouterhorn. Be sure you have what you need, and return what you took.
1.33 Scouterhorn-Inspection_Spectrum_Sports Report of most recent annual technical inspection (copy is in the white 3-ring binder)
0.44 Scouterhorn-Setup_Operations_Takedown Guidelines for setup, operation, and takedown. Know and FOLLOW the guidelines to be safe (or ignore them and hope to be lucky).