BSA COPE and Climbing Training Update: How It Affects You

Beginning January 2020, the BSA COPE and Climbing Program Managers’ Course (CCPM) was replaced with the BSA COPE and Climbing Program Trainer’s Course (CCPT). Anyone who has a valid COPE and Climbing Program Manager’s certification may continue to train Level 2 candidates, provided that an approved training program is in place, until their CPPM certification expires.

As COPE and Climbing Program Manager certifications expire, local councils who would like to continue to have the ability to train Level 2 instructors in their council will need to have a currently certified COPE and Climbing Program Trainer, in addition to an approved training program.

The prerequisites for COPE and Climbing Program Trainer are:

  • Possess a current National Camping School (NCS) certification in COPE and/or Climbing
  • Be physically fit (the COPE and Climbing program trainer is an active outdoor classroom setting designed to assess a participant’s ability to train Level 2 instructors)
  • Conduct 50 hours of in-person program operation time (either as a NCS trained COPE or Climbing director, Level 2 instructor or a Level 1 instructor while over 21 years of age)
  • Council approval through documentation that indicates your council desires you to serve as its COPE/Climbing Program Trainer on council property or for a program they operate. COPE and Climbing Program Trainers are certified for their specific council and the qualifications do not authorize a certificate holder to operate outside the home council unless there is written documentation from council collaborations that meet the requirements in NCAP standard SQ-409. Required documentation is specified upon registration for the COPE and Climbing Program Trainer course.

What are the advantages of having a COPE and Climbing Program Trainer? Glad you asked!  Four council types that benefit the most from having a CCPT:

  • Councils that operate year- round programs or have multiple council owned facilities or programs and need more than one qualified person over 21 to share responsibilities of operations.
  • Councils who have a committed individual who desires to be trained and be available to conduct training during their certification to train instructors to be used for council events and/or summer camp staff during that period.
  • Councils that have many units who wish to use the council COPE course and want to offer regular trainings for Level 2 Instructors who can offer programs all year (not just at summer camp) to climb and use the COPE course (the BEST reason; more youth on more ropes!)
  • Smaller councils or neighboring councils who wish to form a collaboration and have one or two CCPTs who can conduct trainings for the partner councils.

Councils who wish to enter into collaboration agreements must follow the procedures outlined in NCAP standard SQ-409.

The ability to train council Level 2 instructors for vertical endeavors is valuable but council participation in a National Camping School experience is even more important. Councils should strive to send their summer camp COPE or Climbing Director to National Camping School.  The reason that NCS trained COPE or Climbing Director became a prerequisite for CCPT was the value of attending a National Camping School to be trained by qualified people from different councils which exposes the NCS participant to new ideas, methods, and concepts they may have not experienced when trained locally or “in-house”.

With Covid-19, many who wanted to take the Program Trainer course in 2020 did not have an opportunity to attend an NCS COPE or Climbing Director course but plan to do so in the spring of this year. As such, National Camping School COPE and Climbing Program Trainer courses will be accepting students who do not have current NCS certifications with the provision that they cannot teach a Level 2 course (which needs to be checked by a Peer Reviewer) until completion of a National Camp School COPE or Climbing course and provided documentation to the Peer Reviewer of 50 hours of operation in either COPE or Climbing or both. The five- year CCPT certification time starts at the date on the CCPT certificate not on the date of the NCS COPE or Climbing certification.

We are excited about the 2021 camping season and encouraged to see the ways people have modified their programs to deal with safety, sanitation and social distancing so that youth can still have a great experience on rope.  Feel free to email Chair Rhonda Wright ( or your Regional chair if you have questions about the 2021 camping season as it pertains to COPE and Climbing.