Example COPE Program

Challenge by Choice overview & COPE introduction

Before a group participates in any COPE activity, the COPE instructor needs to provide an orientation to the program and encourage participants to share any concerns. There is a laminated introduction guide for instructors to use in the COPE trailer. It includes the “Full-Value Contract” that participants are asked to say aloud and commit to before beginning the COPE course activities.

Warm-up Activities

A warm-up routine is an integral part of the COPE program. By stretching muscles and increasing heart rates, participants can prepare themselves for physical activities and reduce the potential for injury. The warm-up also helps establish a tone of cooperation. While planning a warm-up routine for a group, consider what you know about its collective history, and take into account the age, attention span, and physical condition of group members. Facilitators can take suggestions from group members and involve them in setting the warm-up activities.

Possible warm-ups:

  • Simple stretching
  • Calisthenics
  • Balance awareness activities such as yoga positions
  • Dance moves suggested by a participant

Icebreaker Activities

These activities introduce group members to each other and to their COPE facilitators and leaders through games. Facilitators are able to have more positive impact on the group and individuals by using people’s names to provide encouragement and coaching. The games also encourage participants to begin building group identity and trust, and to become comfortable with the possibility of taking small risks.  


Low Course Activities

Low course activities are often team initiative games—requiring the group to plan and work together to solve a problem or accomplish a goal.  They can also require the group to actively look out for each other through spotting, which increases group trust. Facilitators will frequently engage the group in reflections to encourage group discussion and learning.


High Course Activities

The high course at Durant requires all participants to wear a safety harness and a double-line safety clip-in system, and to be belayed while ascending the ladder at the start of the course.

Guidance for instructors:

Course Debrief

Facilitators should use the reflection/debrief techniques to engage the entire group in a discussion about how they were positively influenced by the COPE course experience.