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shortridge

Any other camps dropping COPE?

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I recently found out that my local council camp is dropping the COPE program and moving to a more climbing-oriented initiative.

 

The two main factors involved are (a) lack of interest in COPE and (b) the high cost of maintenance on the course, which was built in the mid-'80s. More and more Scouts are just interested in climbing and rappeling, and not in the other neat stuff involved with COPE, the camp director tells me.

 

The camp has a 50-foot tower with three functional sides - one for climbing/rappeling (Climbing MB has been offered for several years), one Vertical Playpen and one Giant's Ladder. It's going to be replaced with a multi-sided climbing/rappeling wall next summer. They're not even going to have a zipline any more.

 

I find the news disheartening. As a Scout, I really enjoyed the COPE program, and loved the other high-course elements more than the boring ol' climbing and rappeling component. The low-course elements were great for doing basic teamwork training for troops, patrols and camp staff - and the council occasionally opened the course up to other groups.

 

This happening in any other areas?

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Interestin'.

 

I can't say I honestly know what da industry trends are, but if I were to guess I'd say they were going the same way as your camp is.

 

COPE and other challenge course activities are adult run experiences, often used by schools and management training seminars. I wonder if Kudu will jump in and tell us they're typical Management Training Wood Badge "high adventure." :)

 

Kids these days are a bit more sophisticated and independent I reckon. They want their high adventure experiences to be more open-ended, where their choices and interactions with da environment matter more. A zip line is just a ride, eh? Once you overcome your fear and do it a few times. A climb involves making all kinds of choices along the way, and yeh get to practice and get better as you figure it out. Like a video game, eh?

 

Have yeh watched the adventure sports kids do these days? If they're snowboarding, they ride down and then hang out at the top of the terrain park, then choose their own line, make up their own tricks, compare with each other. It's both independent and social, and no adults are directing. If yeh watch lads skateboardin' or free running or hangin' out at da climbing gym it's the same, eh? I think that's what they really crave.

 

It might not be what we remember or what we want, but that's OK, eh? In a lot of ways, these boys are better than us. They want to be independent and get good at stuff, not just have a fun ride. I love it when the boys are better than us adults, it's why we do this stuff, eh? And anyone who watches any of those modern adventure sports knows that this generation really is better than us. ;)

 

Now, I'm not really sure that a BSA camp is goin' to be able to pull that off. We're really too procedural and adult-directed to provide what I think the boys may be lookin' for, partly because we are servin' so many beginners. I worry that most of da camp climbing programs and facilities I've seen so far are pretty lame.

 

Beavah

 

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Last year my son's troop went to Camp Manatoc in northeast OH. They had dropped their COPE course. When asked, they gave the reasons shortridge listed. Some of our older guys were bummed.

 

Does COPE-type stuff get boring? Maybe. On the other hand, my son spent a week at Y Camp last year doing a "thrills & chills" program that was pretty similar to a typical BSA COPE program. He liked it so much he is going back to do it again this year, instead of going to scout camp for the week.

 

 

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On the other hand, my son spent a week at Y Camp last year doing a "thrills & chills" program that was pretty similar to a typical BSA COPE program.

 

Yah, it's hard to make generalizations, eh? But if I were to, I'd say that YMCA camps have made a much bigger capital investment in high ropes type courses than BSA camps. We tend to do things on the cheap. That might be a lesson for camps that are developin' climbing towers/walls as well.

 

Lisabob, if I may ask... how does your son's YMCA camp fee compare to what his BSA camp cost would have been?

 

B

 

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Oh it is about double or triple the cost of a week at scout camp, depending on the camp in question. I'm not knocking scout camp (please don't anybody start that stuff), but he gets very different things from Y camp, and they're also good things so I'm willing to help him foot that bill. Among other things, his scout troop changes camps every year, while he's been attending the same Y camp for several years, hopes eventually to staff there when he is old enough, and he has a sense of returning "home" there. Yes, they probably do have better facilities than a lot of scout camps, by the way.

 

 

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My (former) troop had summer camp plans for a combined week of COPES and the aquatic base (two separate camps about a dozen miles apart). The program got yanked on them about two months ago, so they made other plans. I know the paperwork and payments were straight because that was the last thing i did before I got a job transfer. Maybe the same thing happened; I'll have to check back with them.

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Beavah - I should point out that what I liked about COPE in fact was the variety and challenge of the exercises. If I didn't like rappeling much (and I didn't - that part where you're on the edge and you lean back almost perpendicular to the tower made me freeze), I could do the Vertical Playpen. Or the Caving Ladder. Or the parallel cable traverse (which has a name, I'm sure). And Scouts who weren't quite ready for the heights could do the low-course elements, which were fun, too. There was something for everyone.

 

I do hope I didn't come across as an old fart complaining that things aren't done the way they were Back In My Day. Far from it. I know that tastes and interests change. I just hate to see a good, useful, positive program go by the wayside.(This message has been edited by shortridge)

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Our local council camp is not doing COPE this year for purely monetary reasons. They chose not to spend the money for the required inspections (and any resultant repairs). COPE is not a big draw for our council camp. Making repairs required to open the pool and repairs to road washed out by spring flooding were both much more essential to camp. Whether it was just priority or true shortage of funds, I don't know. But I know without the pool open many troops wouldn't have come. And if the road had not been repaired, troops would not have been able to get into campsites. So no pool or no road, no camp. COPE doesn't get the emphasis here.

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Whether it was just priority or true shortage of funds, I don't know.

 

If we could get a survey of the 307 US councils, I suspect we'd find all manner of moneymakers were short this year. I was at the 2008 close-out FOS meeting. Few Districts were short. This year, Family and Community campaigns both were at 85% or so, and ... we had stabilized the campaign number at the 2008 level.

 

Returning to topic, there are still plenty of young people wanting to do COPE in-season, and we have folks wanting to rent Scout Camp (and pay for staff time) for COPE out-of-season. It does help that one of our Scout Camps, rural 50 years ago, is becoming an urban wilderness in the 'burbs.

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Seven Ranges in NE Ohio still has the COPE course. For the person whose troop tried Manitoc, I highly recommend Seven Ranges. Of course, the big draw is the Pipestone Honors program. And to truly appreciate it, you need to come back every year. It's one of the reasons the Buckeye Council has a good retention rate and higher than average number of boys earning their Eagle.

 

Glenn

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Hi Glenn,

 

Thanks for the rec. I've heard a lot of good things about Seven Ranges and will pass on your suggestion to our PLC for future consideration (they already picked next year's camp but it is always good to look ahead).

 

As for Manitoc, our boys did have a nice time there. The MB staff was solid and the program was well run. Those who did the one-day rafting excursion enjoyed it, and the Rail Roading was a big hit. A year later, they are still talking about the Moose in the dining hall!

 

It would have been nice if there had been more stuff for older boys though.

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