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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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!
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.
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!
The smiles say it all. Now it's YOUR turn!