Information: COPE

COPE Information Troop Meetings Main Event

Related Advancement
Climbing and Personal Fitness merit badges

Project Cope Activities
A COPE experience can be composed of initiative games, trust events, low-course activities, and high-course activities.

  • Initiative Games – Initiative games can be used near the beginning of each COPE session to help participants learn to work together through communication and trust to achieve their goals.
  • Trust Events – Trust events are a series of activities designed to develop trust in the mind of the individual and with the group as a whole, as well as to develop spotting skills.
  • Low-Course Events – Low-course events do not require participants to be on belay (a rope that protects a participant if he or she falls). While individual coordination and strength are helpful, participants accomplish the low-course activities with the support and combined efforts of their group.
  • High-Course Events – A COPE activity is considered a high-course event if participants must be on belay. High-course events also tend to focus on individual initiative rather than group problem solving.

Eight Principles of COPE
HANDSThe COPE program is designed to enhance the Scouting experience and to promote Scouting values and objectives among its participants with fun and challenging activities. The events and activities of COPE are not designed to be competitive or a race against time, but rather are intended to encourage participants to do their best. COPE emphasizes building self- esteem, developing leadership, and working as a team to accomplish tasks; and it provides opportunities for every participant to succeed as an individual and as a member of a group.

Project COPE program emphasizes eight major goals:

  1. Communication: COPE encourages real learning of critical listening and discussion skills important for any group attempting to accomplish difficult tasks.
  2. Planning: COPE participants are encouraged to consider and/or develop goals for each activity and options for achieving those goals, utilizing the group’s strengths to devise and carry out a course of action. Nontraditional solutions that are “outside the box” may be appropriate.
  3. Teamwork: Teamwork is the key that allows a group to meet a COPE challenge successfully. The COPE experience makes it clear that each individual can accomplish more as a member of a team than by going it alone.
  4. Trust: Participants completing difficult tasks on a COPE course develop trust in COPE staff members, the safety of the course, each other, and themselves.
  5. Leadership: Leadership is given and assumed naturally, and it can be expressed in many ways. Team members attempting to solve problems on a COPE course have many opportunities to develop and exercise leadership skills.
  6. Decision Making: Project COPE requires groups to make decisions by developing one or more solutions to a problem, considering the available resources and alternatives, and evaluating the probable results.
  7. Problem Solving: Project COPE challenges groups and individuals to develop solutions to interesting problems. Participants can then test their solutions and evaluate the results.
  8. Self-Esteem: Meeting the challenges of a COPE course allows individuals and groups to develop self-esteem and encourages them to adopt challenging, attainable goals.

Challenge by Choice
“Challenge by Choice” is a key principle of COPE. Each person may choose which activities to participate in without being pressured or coerced by the group or without having to justify a choice that has been made. While no participant should be pressured or coerced, all should be encouraged to participate in the events. Facilitators must be aware of the fine line between encouragement and pressure. The group must accept each individual’s choice.

Full-Value Contract©
The Full-Value Contract is a personal and interpersonal agreement built on value for each person and for the group as a whole. It helps each participant feel comfortable with what they agree to do or decline to do. Three commitments form the Full-Value Contract:

  1. Work together as a group and strive to achieve individual and group goals.
  2. Adhere to certain safety and group behavior guidelines.
  3. Give and receive feedback, both positive and negative, and strive to change behavior when it is appropriate.

“Challenge by Choice” and “Full-Value Contract” are used with permission of Project Adventure.

Spotting – One of the most important skills involved in Project COPE is spotting. Before your group participates in any low- or high-course activities, your COPE instructor will teach you spotting and give you plenty of opportunities to practice. Here are the rules of spotting:

  • Everyone must spot. If spotters need a rest, they must step away from the group so that they will not be mistaken for active spotters.
  • Spotters must be placed in positions where they will be most effective in preventing injury.
  • Spotters must maintain their attention on the person being spotted.
  • Spotters should keep their eyes on the torso of the person they are spotting and try to anticipate that person’s movements.
  • Spotters may not applaud, as it is impossible to spot and clap at the same time. Hold applause for participants until they are off the COPE element and safely back on the ground.
  • Spotting begins before a person starts to climb anything, and ends only after the person has both feet on the ground and is steady. Never assume that anyone is safe. Do not rely on statements like, “I’ve got it!” or “Don’t worry!”
  • Each spotter should spot as though there were no other spotters.
  • Spotters must be ready at any time to break a fall.
  • Helpers who are off the ground must also be spotted.
  • Participants must not jump off any elements, regardless of the distance to the ground. Spotters should assist those who are dismount- ing to help prevent sprained ankles.
  • There should be at least two spotters on the ground for each participant off the ground, though for some events even more spotters will be required.
Classes of Project Cope Practices and Procedures
Several levels of practices and procedures may apply in specific situations:

  • Required: The Project COPE National Standards are required for all council and district challenge course activities.
  • Recommended: Belay On contains recommended practices and procedures for council/district challenge course activities. These have been determined to have a high degree of safety and are commonly used.
  • Prohibited: A few challenge course practices and procedures are prohibited because they have been determined not to be safe; they are described in the Belay On manual.
  • Acceptable: Because there is such a variety of challenge course practices and procedures, some are simply acceptable—not required, recommended, or prohibited. Just because a practice is not described in COPE does not necessarily mean that it is not acceptable. The council’s COPE committee chairman should be consulted regarding challenge course practices and procedures that may be questionable.

Resources and References

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COPE Information Troop Meetings Main Event