COPE/Climbing Tower Training

Syllabus Outline

The Council COPE/Climbing committee provides training twice a year for new COPE and Climbing program instructors/facilitators.

Course Duration:

24 hours of class and hands-on instruction.

How to Register:

Registration is handled through the Occoneechee Council website. Go to the calendar and find the training event (Sept/Oct. and April) and follow the directions posted there.

Course Objective:

At the end of the course, participants will earn certification as a climbing instructor and a COPE facilitator. You should feel confident in being able to open the Durant climbing tower for their unit. Climbing instructors who complete this training are eligible to take the natural rock training. COPE facilitators will have an introductory knowledge of COPE and can begin their on-the-job (OJT) training under the direction of a certified COPE director.

Certified Climbing Instructor/COPE Facilitators:

Climbing programs: A Climbing director and at least one certified climbing instructor must be present at all Council or District level climbing activities. Troop or Crew level activities may be operated by two (2) certified climbing instructors and at least one adult (18 or older) for every 6 participants in the climbing activity.

COPE Programs: To run the COPE course, a National Camp School certified COPE Director and at least one certified COPE facilitator are needed to operate the various elements of the course. Each director and facilitator/ instructor should also hold certification in First Aid and CPR from any of the following organizations: American Red Cross, Nation Safety Council Level I, or American Heart Association. 


  • Topping Out – A BSA Climbing/Rappelling Manual, No. 32007
  • Mountaineering:  The Freedom of the Hills, No. 33573
  • Project C.O.P.E., BSA, No. 34371C or later    
  • Association for Challenge Course Technology
  • Climbing/Rappelling National Standards, BSA
  • Project COPE National Standards, BSA 

Course Requirements:

  1. Class Size: Maximum class size is set at 18, minimum is 8. This limit is set because of the equipment available for training.
  2. Participant Prerequisites:  Participants must be in good physical condition and not have a fear of heights. They must be at least 18 years of age and members of BSA. It is recommended that participants have First Aid and CPR training.
  3. Participants must complete online training for Youth Protection and Climb on Safely before attending class. This training may be taken online at:
  4. Course staffing for this training: The course director must be a BSA National Camp School Trained Director in either COPE or Climbing. Staff should be made up of no less than 6 instructors who are advanced climbers or experienced COPE facilitators. Instructor ratio of 1 to 6 must be maintained, this is a BSA requirement.
  5. Material Requirements:  Basic climbing gear to include helmets, ropes, harness and all associated safety equipment, to be supplied by the council or training staff.
  6. Precautions: Weather is a prime consideration; high winds and lightening can cancel the program. In that instance, alternate training dates will have to be scheduled.
  7. Evaluations: Evaluations will be emailed to participant approximately two weeks after the course conclusion.


This is a weekend program with training starting on Friday and concluding late afternoon at Durant on Sunday. (Depending on the weather or other considerations, we may adjust the start time on Friday or make it a two weekend program)


12:00 PM or later Staff Arrives
  • move into cabins or campground
  • set up training in Admin building or Simmons Shelter
  • purchase any remaining food
3:00 PM or later Participants Arrive
  • participant start arriving
  • check in at Admin building to receive cabin assignments
  • move into cabins or campgrounds
  • Dinner should have been eaten prior to arrival since class begins at 6:00PM
6:00 PM Class begins
  • Log books
  • Harnessing and helmets - proper adjustment
  • Climb on safely, condensed version
  • Knots: super 8, figure 8, butterfly knot, Killick hitch, stopper knots, coiling a rope- butterfly coil and old navy method, water knot, figure 8 follow through.
  • Inspecting equipment: ropes, webbing, hardware, helmets, and personal gear.
  • Demonstrate and inspect the following: locking carabiners, steel and aluminum, side loading, ATC, stock and rescue 8's, screamers.
  • Ropes, discuss and demonstrate if possible inspection and maintenance, proper care and sharp edge, hard falls, retiring a rope, cleaning, washing
  • Discuss unit check in at camp, how to get keys, security, camp master


6:00 AM Staff begin cooking breakfast
7:00 AM Breakfast is served
8:00 AM First Class - All participant meet at COPE course
  • Discussion of COPE and purpose, why we combined with climbing
  • Storage box set up and equipment storage
  • Walk through Low Course, set up each element and take down. Very short demonstration of each activity. 
  • Discuss field activities and why, do two or three short activities.
  • Set up High Course entry, show knots used on COPE
  • Discuss on-the-job-training (OJT) for COPE and how it works
  • Do at least the ZIP line, run through lunch if needed.
12:00 PM Lunch
12:45 PM Second Class - All participant meet at Climbing Tower bleachers
  • Discuss climbing log books
  • How to take down and put up bird screen
  • Walk through equipment and storage
  • Demonstrate ground school training for climbers
  • How to set up each route or rappel station and belaying.
  • Demonstrate proper belaying techniques, especially for younger scouts
  • Discuss and demonstrate rescue and recovery situation on climbing wall and rappel wall. Be sure to discuss that this is how COPE does recoveries also.
  • Time permitting let everyone attempt at least one climb or rappel and recovery.
7:00 PM Dinner
7:45 PM Discussion and review of the day, including knot setups


7:00 AM Breakfast
8:00 AM Participants given the key to the tower and asked to set all routes and rappel stations.
9:30 AM Trainers go to tower, inspect setup and correct any deficiencies, and then have participants run them through a climbing program.
11:30 AM Debrief
  • Equipment inspection and check in
  • Log Books again
  • Depart for home


Training Pictures