WHAT IS PROJECT C.O.P.E.?
Since its founding in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America have offered its members an outdoor program stressing personal fitness. The organization is also recognized for its leadership development with youth and adults.
HISTORY AND BACKGROUND
The 1979 Dalajamb International Encampment in Sweden provided a number of challenging events of great interest to Scouts from the United States. Foremost among them was the pioneering course constructed by a group of veteran Swedish Scouts. This course was laid out in a heavily wooded area and utilized terrain elevations as part of the design. Bridges were built across ravines of varying widths and depths. Zip lines were swung for traversing the ravines, and novel constructions were used for climbing.
Scouts took to this course with such enthusiasm that an effort was made to duplicate some of the features at the 1981 National Scout Jamboree at Fort A. P. Hill, Va. The Challenge Trail and the Pioneering Area became two of the jamboree's most popular offerings.
The National Council of the Boy Scouts of America was interested in programs equal to the successful overseas and jamboree activities that could be promoted on a nationwide basis. Project C.O.P.E. was identified as having that potential because it offered older Scouts the kind of challenging and exciting program that encouraged them to return to summer camp and increased their tenure. An unexpected dividend was the use of Project C.O.P.E. by youth and adults outside of Scouting. These groups found it an excellent tool for developing both team effort and individual achievement.
Project C.O.P.E. is an acronym for Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience. It is comprised of a series of outdoor challenges; beginning with basic group initiative games (warm-up activities) and progressing to more complicated low-course and high-course activities. Some of these events involve a group effort, while others test individual skills and agility. Participants climb, swing, balance, jump, rappel, and think through solutions to a variety of challenges. Most participants find that they can do much more than they initially thought they could.
Project C.O.P.E. is an exciting outdoor activity that can attract and hold older boys in Scouting. It is designed to meet the needs of today's youth who are seeking greater challenges to their physical and mental abilities. The underlying goals of a Project C.O.P.E. course are consistent with the methods of Scouting. Group activities are ideal for emphasizing the patrol method and in developing leadership. Individual activities help promote personal growth.
A Project C.O.P.E. course provides an opportunity for every participant to achieve success as an individual and as a member of a patrol or team. The activities are not designed to be competitive or to be a race against time. More important objectives including building individual confidence and developing leadership and a sense of common cooperation among team members are emphasized. The course is designed to build more self-confidence in a shorter length of time than anything most people have experienced.
Before implementing a course, the group/supervisor should determine what it seeks to accomplish. Seven major goals are commonly associated with Project C.O.P.E. activities:
- Decision making
- Problem Solving
(A videotape of a group using the C.O.P.E. course is available upon request)
National promotion of Project C.O.P.E. enables the Boy Scouts of America to establish standards designed to meet Scoutings needs and concerns for safety within a strong network. The safety of Scouts, leaders, and staff is imperative. Mere concern about safety is not sufficient. Directors and staff members must demonstrate this concern and must be knowledgeable and personally skilled in the respective course activities, who are effective teachers, and who are constantly alert to safety procedures and participant needs. Prospective staff members are carefully screened. A qualified staff has been assembled with enough members to ensure that continuation of the program is not dependent on one or two people. Standards for Project C.OP.E. are stringent, so that the experience will be both safe and successful.