Troop 8 started rock climbing activities in the early 1990s, a bit ahead of the popular boom in adventure sports. Troop 8 philosophy in climbing as with other Scouting and Venture activities is to serve as an outdoor education program. We want to help young men become capable and self-sufficient climbers, and ultimately to help them develop the skills and judgement they will need to responsibly lead climbing groups (of friends or perhaps young scouts) on their own. This development of skill, judgement, and character we believe is at the core of scouting. It has also sustained our program. At this point, almost all of our in-unit adult instructors are former members.
We therefore do not run climbing activities as adult-led "field trips." While adults may take the lead in some instruction, experienced boys will be trusted to do some teaching, and all boys will participate in the "hands on" work required to climb safely - belaying, rappelling, rigging anchors, caring for equipment, selecting sites and routes, considering weather, etc. As boys demonstrate competence, they will be increasingly trusted to handle these things on their own or with peer supervision as appropriate to the circumstance. Safety is ensured by developing genuine skill and understanding in youth, not by adult involvement in every task from the subtle to the mundane (a protocol which, in any event, is impossible to maintain on a real climbing trip).
This progression, therefore, is designed to lead scouts from the beginning to build up the necessary skills and judgment to be able to climb on their own. It is not designed as a guide for institutional guided climbing experiences. Our goal is not to give the boys an experience, it is to help them become experienced.
The following sections detail important considerations for rock climbing instruction, and how Troop 8 manages them. Within our program, they’re very consistent. That consistency is very important to young climbers. Other programs may operate differently or make different choices about standard procedures, but we’d encourage you to keep the consistency as an important feature of an instructional progression.