Recently in Challenge Course Management Category

Last spring we got a call from a director from an overnight camp in New Hampshire who we had never worked with before, hoping we could help get his course and staff ready for the season. We love new customers, but the few weeks before camps open are one of our busiest times of the year. We are a mission-driven; non-profit organization we do our best to accommodate everyone, however, long-term High 5 clients have scheduled training, course inspections, new installations and repairs months in advance. Calls like these can create challenges for us: the last thing a director wants to hear in June is that his camps' practices and equipment are not up to standard. But based on what we heard about their program, we wanted to help, knowing that we may find less than acceptable practices. Sure enough a few things left us uneasy, especially their giant swing construction and the ability of their staff to effectively operate it.

We know education is important, especially in order to help the camp director become better informed. We began by sharing best practices and offering advice on the changes necessary to meet ACCT industry standards. With the support of our building team, the director became informed. We sent lead Builder Lucas Germano out to work his magic to bring the course up to industry standards and further educate the staff. And within a week of camp opening we had the course up to speed and their staff trained and ready for the opening of camp.

Just a few days ago, the camp director called again this time asking to get on our schedule for inspection and book training for summer 2015. Collaboratively, the director and Ian developed a plan that included scheduling the inspection early enough so any upgrades or training could occur well before the start of camp. The director indicated that he wanted High 5 to be his vendor moving forward. He indicated that based on his experience this spring, he trusts our judgment and honesty.

In the words of their ropes course leader

"...the giant swing went great, the kids felt better on it and had so much more fun and the staff did a great job. Over all they excelled on the ropes course this summer, thank you. I look forward to working with all of you again".
And she added, "I just used the Ubuntu cards today for some team building!!!"

Do you run a challenge course program? Is your program focused on education, growth and development? Are you committed to following best practices? Then, just like our newest client, maybe your site is ready to join the High 5 family of adventure education sites! If so, call soon and talk with our installation staff so we can understand your program needs and get you a spot on our schedule!

We can't wait to hear from you.

Ian, Todd and the installation team can be reached at 802.254.8718.

Are You Ready to Build on Your Skills?
Beyond Basics: August 18-21

Scholarships available!

Beyond Basics is an advanced challenge course operations workshop.

It is designed to help practitioners reinforce and improve the requisite technical skills needed to effectively operate a low and high challenge course program. Emphasis will be on developing a deeper understanding of challenge course systems and cultivating a critical eye for risk management.

This workshop prepares challenge course practitioners for Level II Certification.

What you'll learn:

-Review of basic skills: knot tying, proper use and maintenance of equipment, belay skills

-Self belay techniques for challenge course access, set up and gear retrieval

-Risk management

-Emergency action plans

-Accident prevention and basic rescue procedures

-Specialty element operations such as Flying Squirrel, Pamper Pole/Plank, Zip Line, Rappel, Giant Swing.

Register Today

Click here to see our Entire 2014 Workshop Catalog

If you'd like to talk to a staff person about what training is right for you, call (802) 254-8718.

Are You Ready for a New Adventure?

belayershuddle.jpgAdventure Basics: July 21-25

Scholarships available!

Adventure Basics is your gateway to adventure education and challenge course programming skills. Participants will learn both the basic technical skills of operating a challenge course as well as the facilitation skills essential to sequencing a program to maximize outcomes with participants.

Adventure Basics provides an important first step for both understanding the flow and interplay of a group experience and for learning the skills to run an effective challenge course program.

What you'll learn:
-Essential challenge course skills for the operation of low and high challenge course elements including spotting, spotting skills training, equipment use, knot tying, belay skills and risk management techniques

-Knowledge of a wide variety of icebreakers, warm-ups, cooperative games, and problem solving exercises

-Creating a positive environment for learning, positive group norms and reflection/processing techniques

-Curriculum Development ideas: selecting and sequencing activities for optimal outcomes with your group

There are still a few spots remaining in this training, and scholarship funding is available (call for information.)

Register Today

Click here to see our entire 2014 Workshop Catalog

If you'd like to talk to a staff person about what training is right for you, call (802) 254-8718.


We received this unsolicited feedback from a participant at our Beyond Basics-Advanced Challenge Course Skills workshop last week.

We decided to share this with you because the participant really captured the essence of High 5, our passion for the work and the experience we strive to co-create with all our participants.

Dear Jim,

I had a great time coming out to High 5 and the experience has stayed with me. I feel it is important to speak up when work has been done with excellence, as we so often only give customer feedback when something should be fixed. I loved that Beyond Basics was a more focused workshop emphasizing skills that are more likely to be needed. Liz and Ryan did an excellent job, letting us learn by experience.

Your team has created a welcoming atmosphere that I think is vital to continued strength in our industry. I loved the emphasis High 5 places on work with teambuilding participants and in workshops. I see this importance in the fact that even the executive director works directly with clients. Too often we imply that grants, sponsorships and other necessary funding are higher priority by moving the most experienced people to do this work exclusively.

It was wonderful too to hear about some of the powerful work your team has been doing with the same clients over time. As the balance of adventure programming is shifting to pay for play companies, I am so glad we have an organization like High 5 putting highest quality, intentional, educational programming out in the world.

Thank you for the work that all of your team are doing at High 5,

Thank you for noticing and for all the practitioners out there who are also putting out high quality, intentional, educational programming! High 5's to you!

All the best,

The High 5 Team!

There is still space in our June 5-8 Beyond Basics Workshop. Call today to sign up! 802.254.8718 or 877.356.4445 or email

On behalf of the entire team at High 5, congratulations to the these newly certified Challenge Course professionals.

Level 1 Certification -
· Nicole Cambridge

Level 2 Certification -
· Raychel Setless

· Tony Sendra

· Brian Divelbliss

· Jay Plantillas

Challenge Course Manager Certification -
· Donald Padrick

· Josh Anderson

· Austin Paulson

Learn more about certification...

Greetings Challenge Course friends,

Here are some basic tips for caring for the rope you use on your challenge course. These are only guidelines. Proper rope care and inspection not only will support risk management, but also extend your equipment budget! It is your responsibility to become educated on proper care and maintenance of your climbing ropes.

Questions? Call or email us! Or attend Beyond Basics - Advanced Challenge Course Skills

1. The most important rule for ropes is to not take them for granted, they are important and should be treated with care.

2. Before each use, inspect ropes for breaks, cuts, abrasion and melted or fused fibers.

3. Use ropes only for their intended purpose, they're not for playing games and boundaries.

4. Keep a rope log tracking use.

5. Manage your belay stations well to avoid damaging the ropes by stepping on them.

6. When a rope is not in use, coil it neatly and store it in a designated space that is dry, free of chemicals, dirt, and out of direct sunlight.

7. Do not leave knots in the rope. This is a quick way to damage your rope.

8. Clean ropes periodically to remove dirt and grit. One way is to rinse them with a garden hose in a large tub and allow them to air dry. Don't use solvents, bleach or a harsh detergent and never use heat to dry them. Mild soap or liquid laundry detergent can be used.

We hope this is helpful! If so, feel free to share. And remember to follow us on Twitter @High5Adventure and Facebook

Check out our full line of rope and equipment in the High 5 store

The days are longer, the weather is warmer and if you are like us here at High 5, you can't wait to get outside and start programming on your challenge course! Now is a great time to join the ranks of Certified Challenge Course Practitioner! Or to simply to give your skills a boost!

Join us on April 17 for a Skills Refresher one-day workshop at our beautiful Brattleboro, VT campus. We'll start the day with a needs assessment to address areas of challenge or to stretch and grow your skills.Through out the day we'll review, refresh and refine basic technical skills for challenge course operations.

Then, if you choose, you can join us on April 18 for either Level 1 Challenge Course Practitioner Certification or or Level 2 Challenge Course Practitioner Certification.

Not sure if you are ready for certification? Just come for the refresher on April 17 or read through the requirements for Certification or give us a call to discuss. 802.254.8718 or 877.356.4445

It's going to be a great few days in Vermont and we can't wait to see you there!

How often is your challenge course professionally inspected? Industry guidelines recommend at least once per year. But it is the responsibility of everyone who facilitates on a challenge course to know what to be checking for in between professional course inspections.

Professional well trained practitioners are always scanning their challenge course with a critical eye toward safety. High 5's Ian Doak shares just some of the places everyone who facilitates on a challenge course should be checking out.

1. Overall structure - Look for changes to the course. On tree course look for limbs that could have come down or are hung up in the trees. Look for lighting damage to the trees. Bark blown off the trunk. On pole courses also look for lighting damage or wood pecker damage to the poles. On all courses look for wear and tear to the footing surrounding elements. Especially where participants could trip.

2 - Cables - Look at the cables to see if any changes have occured. Are they tighter or more loose then normal? This includes your guy cables. If you see changes, call your vendor as this indicates something else is going on.

3 - Connections - Do the cable connections look normal? (compare to other connections) If serving sleeves were used, are they currently in place or is the cable end frayed and needs addressing.

4 - Wildlife - Check under platforms, behind climbing walls, in tires and surrounding ground area for nests. These could be anything from your friendly robin to bees, squirrels or snakes. Our animal friends can do unintended damage and will need to be removed. Check local guidelines and/or consult a professional. Then create barriers to keep them from returning.

5 - Belay Systems - Are the pulleys and shear reduction devices set up correctly? Are they on the right cable and is the p-cord and or rope running through it correctly? It is particularly important to verify this after gear rescues.

7.- Equipment - Inspect all participant equipment before use. Look for rodent damage or wear that occurred last program and was not reported.

Join us at High 5's Managing an Adventure Program workshop to delve deeper into this topic.

If you spot anything on your challenge course that is out of the ordinary or concerning, report it to the person responsible for the course locally and contact your Inspect and maintenance professional ASAP.

The information shared above is intended as a supplement to proper training and annual inspection and maintenance by a professional vendor.

Questions or comments....enter them below or give us a call at 802.254.8718 or 877.356.4445

Stay in touch on Facebook and Twitter @high5adventure . We love to hear from you!

Here's another question out of our (so far unpublished) book of program philosophy, which uses a Socratic approach. As usual, ponder your own answer, before clicking through to our answers, which this time take the form of a discussion between Chris and Jim:

Is it a sound practice to hire someone to work on your challenge course that has substantial experience from work at other organizations but no professional training?

A trio of safety questions

Three challenge course safety questions -- figure out your own answers, then read ours after the jump:

1. Does an "assisted braking" belay device (like a GriGri) make belaying safer?

2. How do you tackle a situation with poor equipment storage? Imagine that you have recently been hired as the challenge course manager for a summer camp. Upon review of the procedures regarding equipment, you discover that no rope logs have been kept, that equipment was stored in a damp crawl space under a cabin and that much of it is moldy and rusted and that camp staff was allowed to use climbing equipment for personal use to various rock climbing sites. What steps will you take to assure that all of the equipment is in good order? What new procedures you will put in place to improve the situation?

3. No designated challenge course manager: For many years, a local high school challenge course program has distributed equipment keys to PE staff in the district so they can use the course with their students. The competency level of the staff varies greatly as some have received professional training and some have been trained internally. There is no one person in charge of the site beyond someone assuming the responsibility for distributing the keys. What are the implications of managing a site in this manner?

Think about your answers -- then read ours:

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