Successful challenge course programming starts with PREPARATION. Important reopening steps such as annual inspections and pre-programming walkthroughs are essential checkpoints in the reopening process of your course and program, but there’s more. An equally important perspective from both a safety and success program metric is the people element: challenge course instructors! We encourage you to shine the spotlight on yourself, or if you are a manager of a course, on your incoming staff. We’ve compiled a few reopening tips and resources for Challenge Course practitioners. Take an inventory and dust off those technical and soft skills in preparation for another successful challenge course season. To help you keep pivoting, we’ve also included some Covid-19 protocol tips that we are successfully using at High 5 this season.
It’s a good idea to keep track of your experience as it provides valuable insight into what skills are the sharpest and those in most need of sharpening. Review your portfolio each year as it may be surprising to discover what you learn over time. If you don’t have a portfolio it’s a good idea to get one started and you can find the standard ACCT Challenge Course Portfolio form here. Another helpful resource is the Challenge Course Practitioner Certification Table (scroll to the bottom of page and click link) so you can map out your plans for future learning and skill development. Set some goals for yourself, then go out and achieve them.
Do you know what you need to know to effectively operate your program? Although challenging, you should be asking yourself this question annually. To help assess your competency, we’ve included our skills assessment (Level 1 and Level 2) sheets for you to download. Take a moment to honestly fill them out and invite your staff to do the same.
Are you following your training plan? When was the last time you attended a skills refresher? If you review your training plan and portfolio and notice your training and professional development hours are not being met and/or are low, then that may be a sign that it’s time for training. In addition to reviewing your training plan and portfolio, take a look at your skills checklist. If you’re seeing lots of 1’s and 2’s then it’s probably another indication that more training is in order.
Even though you may know your LOP Manual front to back it is always a good idea to read it through again. It’s good to ensure your practices match your operational procedures and that both are congruent with current industry standards. If you don’t have a LOP manual then maybe it’s time for training. Our High 5 Guide explains more about LOPs on page 17, plus it includes samples of all the forms mentioned above.
We’ve had success with creating activities (gamification) that reinforce and teach the protocols. For example, Hunker Hauser (as seen in the photo) is a great activity to try with your groups. This activity can be used to reinforce balance practice and self-spotting skills by having partners 6’ apart and holding a length of rope attempting to have their partner take a step off balance by either pulling the rope or releasing it through their hands. A progression could involve different stances such as feet together, heel to toe, and one leg in the air. Additionally, we try to leverage all the value out of our outdoor space by using naturally occurring distance markers like the Full House as a gathering spot. We liberally use distance cues such as spot markers, rope lengths, and knots in ropes to assist with maintaining physical distance and safety. The ratio of instructor to participant is higher than normal during Covid-19, but this co-leading model helps with time on task and keeping participants safe.
Here are some helpful links to Covid-19 guidelines published by Adventure Industry entities:
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, good people with good training create good programs. Cultivate the talent within yourself and within your community by pursuing opportunities to learn and grow your craft as a challenge course practitioner. We know it’s a lot to keep track of, but we’re here to help. Stay in touch. If you have training questions give us a call at 802.254.8718 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. High 5 offers training opportunities for Adventure Practitioners at all levels. See our 2021 Workshop/Training calendar here.