Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience (COPE) Program

South Mountain Sea Scout Training Facility

Camp Tuckahoe, Dillsburg, Pennsylvania

23-25 August 2002

On the weekend of 23-25 August 2002, six stalwart crew members of Sea Scout Ship 25 - SSS YORKSHIRE ventured  to the South Mountain Sea Scout Training Facility of the York-Adams Area Council, BSA at Camp Tuckahoe, Dillsburg, Pennsylvania to attempt the Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience (COPE) program under the guidance of COPE Director Duane Close.

Bo'sun Tim, Yeoman Amanda, Purser Leah, Bo'sun Emeritus Adam, Drew, and prospective member John  along with the Skipper and Mate Mrs. K loaded up the ship's trailer on Friday night and drove to the outpost camping area near the COPE site.  We set up camp in the gathering darkness and awaited with a mixture of curiosity and apprehension the personal and crew challenges we knew would be coming during the next two days.  

DCP_1274.JPG (1701682 bytes)  That night there was a terrific thunder and lightning storm.  That added to the dramatic atmosphere already prevailing amongst our crew. We can also say that you really haven't seen thunder and lightning until you've seen it from high up on South Mountain.

Saturday morning we met our instructor, COPE Program Director Duane Close.  He lead us through a series of introductory exercises to get us to stretch and to practice our communications skills.  Then we began a series of low course challenges requiring us to actually think, analyze a situation, and then practice teamwork to accomplish various goals.  We aced them all.  Then it was on to "the Wall".  We didn't do so well on this one at first.  We learned that sometimes if you start off too soon before thinking something through clearly, you end up in a situation where no amount of Herculean effort too late in the game will retrieve the situation.  This lesson has valuable parallels in life itself.  We were suddenly discouraged and frustrated because up until this point we had gotten 100% of our crew through 100% of the obstacles.  Only the knowledge that we might try "the Wall" again the next day kept us from feeling really bummed.

DCP_1312.JPG (1560407 bytes)  By mid Saturday afternoon, Mr. Close was satisfied that we individually and as a crew were ready to begin some of the high elements.  He issued us safety harnesses and showed us exactly how to put them on.  No slip ups or casual application would be allowed.  Safety and lives would depend on our doing certain things in a precise and consistent manner. We would be literally holding our shipmates' lives in our hands.

DCP_1313.JPG (1160881 bytes)  Here Mr. Close reviews the correct procedure for attaching a belay line to a figure-of-eight and a carabineer, and then attaching the carabineer to our safety harness.

DCP_1318.JPG (840518 bytes)  Here Adam acts as belay, braking with his left hand, while Tim is the back-up belay person, and John keeps the excess line coiled off the ground and ready for use.

DCP_1327a.JPG (416076 bytes)  Even a light-weight girl like Amanda can hold a much heavier guy suspended in mid-air by use of the friction in the rope through the figure-of-eight braked over the hip.  Of course when big brother Tim is the guy suspended in mid-air, there is a great temptation to make him regret past teasing of his little sister.

DCP_1332.JPG (202557 bytes)  Leah deserves a tremendous amount of credit.  She was very open and frank from the git-go that that she did not like heights in any way, shape, or form.  Yet she mustered the courage and self-discipline, with encouragement from her shipmates, to meet and conquer each and every challenge presented.  Way to go, girl!

DCP_1337.JPG (1684688 bytes)  We're not going to show you photos or tell you stories about each and every challenge.  You'll have to come to COPE and face them for yourself.  It's a COPE thing - until you've been there and done it, you wouldn't understand.  If you think you've got what it takes to succeed at COPE, give it a go.  It is available year round, rain or shine.  The only time they won't take you up is if there is lightning.  Here's who to contact to schedule your COPE experience:

Mr. Todd A. Weidner, Program Director
York-Adams Area Council  Service Center
2139 White Street
York, PA 17404-4940
Telephone 800-569-5197 or 717-834-1941

Do COPE!  - You'll never be the same afterwards.

DCP_1354a-60.JPG (450001 bytes)  Oh yes!  By the way - we did the Wall in fine time the next morning.  It all goes to show what a good night's sleep and some clear thinking plus determination can accomplish.  We came, we saw, we conquered.  100% of the crew through 100% of the challenges.  Way to go, 25!

DCP_1342a.JPG (361563 bytes)  The smiles say it all.  Now it's YOUR turn!

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This page is from the website of SSS YORKSHIRE - Sea Scout Ship 25, York, PA, USA -