Climb On Safely

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From: Climb On Safely — Scouting.org

Climb On Safely is the Boy Scouts of America’s procedure for organizing BSA climbing/rappelling activities at a natural site or a specifically designed facility such as a climbing wall or tower.

All unit-sponsored/planned climbing activities, regardless of where they are held, fall under Climb On Safely. This applies to a single unit or multiple units that may be participating in a joint unit climbing activity.

Tour and activity plans are required for any unit activities involving climbing and rappelling. Tour leaders are responsible for making sure all points of Climb On Safely are followed. Unit committee chairs and local councils must ensure that an adult on the tour has taken Climb On Safely training.

Young people today seek greater challenges, and climbing and rappelling offer a worthy challenge. The satisfaction of safely climbing a rock face is hard to top. While introduction of the Climbing merit badge in spring 1997 spurred interest in these activities through the BSA, the proliferation of climbing gyms and facilities has also made climbing and rappelling readily available throughout the United States.

This increased interest has made climbing and rappelling a very popular unit activity. More accidents occur during unit rappelling than during council-managed climbing or rappelling, and more accidents have occurred during rappelling than climbing. Many climbing/rappelling accidents could be avoided by having qualified instruction from a conscientious adult who has the attention and respect of the youth entrusted to his or her care. Supervision by a caring adult who fully understands and appreciates the responsibility he or she assumes helps assure safety when youth engage in or prepare for climbing or rappelling.

The adult supervisor’s relationship with youth participants should reinforce the importance of following instructions. The adult leader in charge and the climbing instructor share this important responsibility. The instructor is responsible for all procedures and for safely conducting the climbing/rappelling activity. The adult supervisor works cooperatively with the climbing instructor and is responsible for all matters outside of the climbing/rappelling activity.

Belay On, No. 430-500, is a recommended reference.

Cub Scouts are encouraged to engage in climbing; Webelos Scouts are encouraged to engage in climbing and rappelling in a controlled environment with close supervision by instructors who are knowledgeable about instructing this age group. Normally, this means going to a climbing gym where the degree of difficulty is age-appropriate and the harnesses are size-appropriate for Cub Scouts. Age-appropriate guidelines can be found at www.scouting.org.

Each of the following points plays an important role in Climb On Safely. Fun and safe climbing/rappelling activities require close compliance of Climb On Safely by the adult supervisor, the instructors, and all participants. These points also apply to bouldering—traversing a few feet above ground level.

Contents

Basic Requirements

  1. Qualified Supervision
  2. Qualified Instructors
  3. Physical Fitness
  4. Safe Area
  5. Equipment
  6. Planning
  7. Environmental Conditions
  8. Discipline

Age-Appropriate Guidelines

Cub Scout Climbing

Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts are encouraged to engage in climbing in a controlled environment with close supervision by instructors who are knowledgeable about instructing this age group. Webelos Scouts also may participate in rappelling. Normally this means going to a climbing gym where the degree of difficulty is age-appropriate and the harnesses are size-appropriate for Cub Scouts. It is not recommended that Cub Scouts use climbing towers and walls in camp that have been designed for Boy Scout use. See the Age-Appropriate Guidelines.

CUB SCOUTS

  • Bouldering no higher than the climber’s shoulder height, with trained adult spotters. (This pertains to climbing on boulders or other steep faces without going more than a few feet off the ground, protected by spotters rather than a rope belay.)
  • Climbing in a climbing gym or using a portable wall or other age-appropriate facility with close supervision and age-appropriate instruction and equipment.
  • Climbers will be lowered by a belayer; no rappelling by Cub Scouts.
  • No belaying by Cub Scouts.

WEBELOS SCOUTS

  • Bouldering no higher than the climber’s shoulder height, with trained adult spotters.
  • Climbing in a climbing gym or using a portable wall or other age-appropriate facility with close supervision and age-appropriate instruction and equipment.
  • Rappelling with a trained adult belayer.
  • No belaying by Webelos Scouts.
  • Note: 10-1/2 year old Boy Scouts are still considered Webelos for Climbing Activities

BOY SCOUTS AGES 11 TO 12

Boy Scouts can earn the Climbing Merit Badge.
  • Bouldering no higher than the climber’s shoulder height, with trained spotters.
  • Top-rope climbing with trained belayers.
  • Rappelling with trained belayers.
  • Belaying with supervision and a backup.

OLDER BOY SCOUTS AND VENTURERS

Venturers can earn the Mountaineering (Ranger Award elective) and Cave Exploration (Ranger Award elective).
  • Bouldering no higher than the climber’s shoulder height, with trained spotters.
  • Top-rope climbing with trained belayers.
  • Belaying with supervision.
  • Rappelling with trained belayers.
  • All council and district climbing must be top-roped.
  • Practice lead climbing with a top-rope belay.
  • Units with youth who are at least 13 years of age may elect to participate in lead climbing and/or snow and ice climbing with training from a nationally recognized organization that trains climbing instructors. BSA climbing directors and instructors are not trained in lead climbing or snow and ice climbing.

See also

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