What are the BSA guidelines for bouldering at an indoor gym like the circuit?

Do we need to have climbing instructors certified with BSA since the employees aren’t able to help during open time? What does a bouldering outing look like in terms of safety and adult leadership?


For Bouldering at the Circuit, all regulations from Guide to Safe Scouting apply, as well as the operations procedures of the Gym. Climb on Safely still applies, although “qualified instruction” in this case is just a bouldering facilitator and you really don’t need helmets b/c there is no fall zone. 
Couple of things that you do need to follow for Bouldering

1) While bouldering, a Scouts feet should not go higher than their shoulder height.  The Circuit has many walls that are much higher than that. The Scouts should limit themselves to this height requirement. 

2) Spotters. Bouldering spotters are required by the BSA. The Circuit recommends them, but doesn’t enforce it. You need a bouldering facilitator to supervise. It takes only a few minutes to train a bouldering facilitator and to teach adults and youth to spot. Each boulderer requires TWO spotters. 

3) adult supervision. These gyms can be crazy places. You need both youth and adult supervision to ensure that the climbers follow the requirements and don’t wander off and start doing crazy things. 

Can one Scout sign up for a Climbing Event by themselves?

Answer: Scouts must attend with a unit and appropriate adult supervision. If one youth signs up and two registered adult leaders attend, then it can be done. A youth can not attend with only an un-registered parent.

We have more than 24 climbers. Can you somehow add more slots for us?

Answer: Our 24 climber limit is defined by both gear and instructors. We can’t just “add more slots” if we don’t have any more gear. If you have more climbers than we can accommodate at one time, it is possible to split your unit into morning and afternoon groups and do it that way. Please arrange this specifically with the climbing committee ahead of time! If you have just a 1-2 more than our capacity, we may be able to accommodate you, or units often have climbers to tire out quickly and can allow someone else to swap in. Of course, please coordinate with the climbing instructors ahead of time!

Is there a minimum age for climbing?

Guidance on which Scouts can participate in different activities is defined by the National Age-appropriate guidelines. For outdoor climbing, this means that the minimum age for Rappelling is Webelos, while the minimum age for rock climbing is Scouts BSA registered with a Troop. Bouldering is allowed for all ages.

All Cub Scouts can climb at an age-appropriate man-made facility (indoor climbing gym).

I was a Climbing Instructor in another Council. Is my card valid in CPC?

Answer. Climbing instructor certifications are Council specific. This means that your card from another Council is not valid in CPC until you have been signed off by the local CPC Climbing Committee. We will be happy to work with you to recertify within our recognized program. The best way is to take our annual Level 2 Climbing Instructor training that happens in the spring of every year. Please reach out to the committee at cpc.climbing.committee@gmail.com.

I am from another Council. Can I take the CPC Climbing Level 2 instructor course and take units in my Council climbing?

Answer. Climbing instructor programs are Council-specific. However, we do have recognition letters in place with Crater Laker, Blue Mountain, and Oregon Trail that allow instructors who earn a Level 2 card from our training program to operate UNIT activities within their Councils. Please reach out to the committee at cpc.climbing.committee@gmail.com for more information.

My District wants to run a Climbing wall at Camporee. How do we make that happen?

Any event run by District or multiple units must adhere to the NCAP rules. For Climbing, there is very little difference between short-term camping and long-term camping rules. Please contact us for more details, but some of the key requirements will be as follows:

  1. Annual professional inspection. Whoever is providing the climbing wall must show documentation of a passing professional inspection in the last 12 months.
  2. Trained instruction. If you are using a commercial wall or one from the National Guard, and they are running it, then they are the qualified instructors since they are trained on this specific equipment. However, you will still need a Climbing Level 2 instructor and the operations will need to also adhere to the BSA NCAP requirements in addition to the operating procedures of the vendor.
  3. Insurance. Make sure that whoever is providing the wall has the appropriate insurance.

I haven’t climbed in 20 years, but I want to help my unit go climbing. What can I do?

A good place to start is one of the pre-scheduled events run by the committee. Your unit can go climbing at one of these events with minimal preparation. However, if your youth are interested in more, you will need instructors. Being a Climbing instructor is more about running a safe program than being a technical climber. You DO have to be able to walk the talk a bit, but most Scouting leaders have sufficient physical capacity to do what you need to do. We strongly encourage you to contact the climbing committee for more details or to sign up for one of the introductory Tower-only Level 1 courses at a SuperWeekend.

My Scout is an avid climber and wants to learn more. Can they take the Climbing Instructor Course?

Scouts as young as 16 can take the Level 2 Climbing Instructor course, as long as they are accompanied by a participating adult. This is a great way to expose your youth to advanced climbing training that will keep them safe in their sport climbing activities. It is also a fantastic way to spend time with your older Scout and have an activity that you can both enjoy for many years. Youth must be 18 years old to earn a Level 1 certification card, but they can learn the skills that will keep them safe and help others.

I can only make one of the two Level 2 Climbing Instructor training weekends. Can I still come?

If you can only attend the Ground School, you can do that. You won’t be able to complete any of the certifications, but it will set you up for later certification. It is not possible to only attend the Practical weekend unless you are recertifying a previous certification from CPC.

How long are Climbing Instructor Certifications good for?

Level 1 must be renewed every year. Level 2 is good for 3 years. A director certification is good for 5 years.

How can I get re-certified?

Climbing is a perishable skill. Recertification requires a full evaluation of the skills checklist for the appropriate certification. The easiest way to do this is to attend the Practical Weekend of the Level 2 course.

If your certification has been expired for a year or so, you can possibly attend the practical weekend of the Level 2 training or one of the Tower-only Level 1 trainings to get recertified. If your certification has been expired for longer, you are encouraged to retake the entire Level 2 course. If you aren’t certain or just want to talk to someone, please send email to cpc.climbing.committee@gmail.com and we will work with you.

My Unit wants to go to Tree2Tree. What do we need to do to follow the BSA standards?

As a unit outing, Climb on Safely sets the guidelines for this activity. The NCAP rules only apply if more than one unit will attend together. Your unit must have at least one adult who has taken Climb on Safely, and follow the guidelines therein. Qualified Instruction in this case are the instructors at Tree2Tree. They need to keep the 6/1 ratio to follow the BSA guidelines. Qualified supervision in this case are your adult leaders. Again, follow CoS guidelines.

It is a good idea to ask them for proof of their ACCT certification and inspection, as well as proof of insurance. Tree2Tree has hosted many Scout units are have been very accommodating in the past.