BSA Climbing Instructor Course

Anyone who is 18 y/o or older and getting involved with BSA Troops and Crews caving should consider taking the BSA Climbing and Rappelling Instructor Course. I know what you’re thinking; climbing and caving are two different activities. And I’ll add that they are similar and I’d like to explain my thoughts on this.
Those of you who have done wild cave trips understand that there is a fare bit of crawling and squeezing into cracks and holes. There is also a fair amount of scrambling over breakdown, climbing over boulders, and chimining through cracks. In climbing terms this may resemble “bouldering”. Bouldering occurs where you need to spot someone who is not climbing more than shoulder high. There is no need for a belay while doing this. Sometimes you’ll be faced with having to belay someone who is climbing higher than you can safely spot them. When belaying you must to be anchored so you don’t get pulled off balance and fall yourself.
The BSA Climbing Instructors Course teaches you the basics and theory behind safe anchoring of a belayer, climber, and rappeler. It also teaches how to quickly asses when a belay is and is not necessary. Even though you may not have a caving activity that requires a Climbing Instructor to be present, the Climbing Instructor Course will give you the tools and skills to tell the difference between when you do and do not need a Climbing Instructor.
As a BSA Unit any time a rope or webbing is used for a climbing aid you must have someone with current “Climb On Safely” training present. Anytime more than one Unit or your friend from another Troop or Crew comes along with your Troop or Crew you will need to have a BSA Climbing Instructor.

Taking the BSA Climbing Instructor is not all that hard either. Most Councils offer this course sometime during the year. If not, check a neighboring Council for courses. It’s generally a two weekend course. You walk away with a lot of material and a better understanding on what you will need to do to be safe while on rope. This is not a “how to rock climb” course, but a “how to safely climb and rappel” course. And like most BSA courses it’s a lot of fun, you get to meet some great people and gain some incredible recourses.


  1. I recommend the course, not because of the climbing skills covered but I find the real value is receiving among other things, the latest on the Scouting Regulations. I spend a lot of time keeping up with the latest changes. Another is you meet another group of folks to help when leading trips with not only Scouts but other groups as well. It will also help with understanding adding a vertical component to the adventure. And now you must have two trained instructors to even the smallest group of Scouts when doing any kind of vertical work greater than shoulder height. More when you have a group larger than eight. Boy Scouts carefully and frequently review their regulations and it is only a matter of time till they require this training for caving also. As I mentioned above what is learned at this course can be applied to other groups as well. A case in point is the group, Royal Rangers. The royal Rangers cite and specify that BSA guidelines be followed when rock Climbing and other adventures. Keep in mind that as Cavers we can add a whole new dimension to the class and group.


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