Safety on Challenge Courses at Young Life Camp

Information on safety of zip lines, pamper poles, ropes courses, climbing walls, rappelling and swings at camp, especially for Parents and Guardians.
 
Thank you for considering the opportunity for your child to attend a Young Life camp. Following are questions you may have about the purpose and safety of challenge courses, which are among the optional activities at many of our properties. We want you to know that safety is among our highest priorities in Young Life and that hundreds of thousands of campers have safely enjoyed the fun and excitement of our challenge courses for many years. In providing the information below, our goal is to enable you to make an informed decision about allowing your child to join us at Young Life or WyldLife camp.
 
  1. Why does Young Life have challenge courses?

    Young Life’s camping program offers kids a chance to get away from their everyday routine and to experience fun, adventure, great food and the opportunity to hear about and respond to God’s love for them. Challenge courses, in particular, give kids a chance to stretch themselves in ways that encourage personal growth and openness to consider the possibilities of a life lived to the fullest. Challenge courses also build bonds between kids and their classmates as well as with their Young Life leaders. To make sure campers have the “best week of their lives” at our camps, Young Life places the highest priority on the excellence of our facilities, the training of our staff and on the safety of our guests.

  2. What are the challenge course elements at Young Life camps?

    Challenge course elements at Young Life camps include zip lines, climbing walls, rappelling, pamper poles, ropes courses, and swings. While every camp may not have all of these challenge course elements, each Young Life camp has a variety of activities available for campers and leaders. To see what is offered at the camp your child will be attending, please go to the website for that camp. If you do not know that web address, go to younglife.org/Locator.

  3. Young Life promises to meet the highest standards of construction, maintenance and operation of challenge course elements. Who establishes those standards and certifies that Young Life is meeting them?

    Young Life follows and ensures consistent application of the standards developed by the Association of Challenge Course Technology (ACCT). For more on ACCT, see below.

    The sole provider for inspections and certifications of Young Life’s challenge courses is Adventure Experiences, Inc., a Professional Vendor Member (PVM) of the ACCT.
    Adventure Experiences carries the highest level of certification available in the challenge course industry.

    From the ACCT Website

    Founded in 1993, The Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) is the world’s leading and largest American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Accredited Standards Developer focused specifically and solely on the challenge course industry. ACCT is comprised of a nucleus of more than 2,500 members worldwide (including the United States, Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, Canada, Japan, Korea and Central America) and continues to develop a global alliance of like-minded organizations.

    ACCT Mission Statement

    The Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) establishes and promotes the standard of performance and measure of excellence that defines professional practice and effective challenge course programs. ACCT develops, refines and publishes standards for design, performance, inspection, operation and certification for the challenge course industry; provides accreditation for vendors; public forums for education and professional development; and advocates globally for the challenge course, canopy/zip line tour and aerial adventure/trekking park community.

    ACCT Vision Statement

    The Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) is recognized as the leading professional resource for those who create effective challenge course, canopy/zip line tour and aerial adventure/trekking park facilities and programs that serve the public and/or facilitate learning and positive change in individuals, groups and communities.

  4. What training or abilities does my child need to participate in the challenge course?

    No special abilities are required, and campers and their leaders receive instruction prior to their participation. We make every effort to give every camper, including those with disabilities, the opportunity to participate in challenge course elements.

  5. Medical resources available at camp:

    Each Young Life Camp has a medical program in order to provide emergency first aid to injured or ill guests. Medical care may also include the management of medications and maintaining adequate medical documentation. Camps with emergency medical services five to thirty minutes away operate a Level 1 infirmary which is staffed, at a minimum, by a medical director and a licensed EMT. Camps with emergency medical services greater than thirty
  6.  minutes away operate a Level 2 infirmary which is staffed, at a minimum, by a medical director, a licensed EMT and a licensed physician that is currently practicing in one of the following areas of specialty: cardiology, emergency medicine, family practice, general practice, general surgery, internal medicine, pediatrics or orthopedics. The camps which fall into the Level 2 category are Malibu and Washington Family Ranch.

    In July 2002, Young Life completed a survey of the state laws governing the operation of children's camps in respective states of operation. Since the comprehensiveness of each state's regulations vary, Young Life has chosen the most comprehensive approach to follow in all camps. In addition, the accreditation standards for camp programs and services of the American Camping Association were reviewed and served as a benchmark to meet or exceed as we defined Young Life medical program standards.

    For more information about the medical program at your child’s specific camp, please visit that camp’s website. If you do not know that web address, go to younglife.org/Locator.

  7. I heard there was a death on a high-element camp swing in 2015? What happened and what has Young Life done to prevent further accidents?

    There was a tragic accident at Carolina Point in which a camper fell from the swing she was riding because she was not properly attached. This did not involve equipment failure but operator error. 

    Young Life camps have the highest safety standards in the youth camping industry. Nonetheless, we have responded to this tragic accident by implementing equipment changes and enhancing operating procedures to ensure even greater safety in the future.

  8. What are the changes?

    Although Young Life has always observed practices that already exceeded the requirements of the foremost accreditor of challenge course safety, we have taken additional steps to further enhance our operating procedures. These include:
      • All campers are secured to swings in a full body harness or a chest and seat harness combination.
        • Dual Operators Confirmation of Secure Connection – After all campers have been connected to the swing bar and prior to sitting in the swing seat, each one will be instructed to put tension on the connecting carabineer and harness to test the connection. This will be verified (visually and tactilely) by both swing operators. Only after the dual confirmation between the two assigned swing operators will the ride proceed.
      • Course operators will be rotated or relieved so they are alert and focused.
      • Campers will no longer carry personal items with them on challenge course elements.
      • To ensure continual improvement and monitoring, any unsafe incidents will be reported immediately.

These changes in challenge course procedures strengthen an already rigorous system designed to protect campers, and further our commitment to kids and their safety.  

For more information, please contact the Young Life staff member in your area or Young Life Camping administration at 719-381-1844 or camping@sc.younglife.org.
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