Safety on Challenge Courses at Young Life Camps

Information on safety of zip lines, pamper poles, ropes courses, climbing walls, rappelling​ and swings at camp, especially for Parents and Guardians.

Thank you for considering the opportunity for your child to attend a Young Life camp. Following are questions you may have about the purpose and safety of challenge courses, which are among the optional activities at many of our properties. 

We want you to know that safety is among our highest priorities in Young Life and that hundreds of thousands of campers have safely enjoyed the fun and excitement of our challenge courses for many years. In providing the information below, our goal is to enable you to make an informed decision about allowing your child to join us at Young Life or WyldLife camp.
  1. Why does Young Life have challenge courses?

    Young Life’s camping program offers kids a chance to get away from their everyday routine and to experience fun, adventure, great food and the opportunity to hear about and respond to God’s love for them. Challenge courses, in particular, give kids a chance to stretch themselves in ways that encourage personal growth and openness to consider the possibilities of a life lived to the fullest. Challenge courses also build bonds among kids and their classmates as well as with their Young Life leaders. To provide campers the “best week of their lives” at our camps, Young Life places the highest priority on the excellence of our facilities, the training of our staff and on the safety of our guests.

  2. What are the challenge course elements at Young Life camps?

    Challenge course elements at Young Life camps include zip lines, rock walls, rappelling, pamper poles, ropes courses, and swings. While every camp may not have all of these challenge course elements, each Young Life camp has a variety of activities available for campers and leaders. To see what is offered at the camp your child will be attending, please go to the website for that camp. If you do not know that web address, go to camp.younglife.org and click on Connect with a Camp​.

  3. What training or abilities does my child need to participate in the challenge course?

    No special abilities are required, and campers and their leaders receive instruction prior to their participation. We make every effort to give every camper, including those with disabilities, the opportunity to participate in challenge course elements.

  4. Young Life promises to meet the highest standards of construction, maintenance and operation of challenge course elements. Who establishes those standards and certifies that Young Life is meeting them?

    Young Life follows and ensures consistent application of the standards developed by the Association of Challenge Course Technology (ACCT). For more on ACCT, see below.

    The sole provider for inspections and certifications of Young Life’s challenge courses is Signature Research, Inc., a Professional Vendor Member (PVM) of the ACCT. Signature Research, Inc., carries the highest level of certification available in the challenge course industry.

    All of our facilities are inspected and approved by Signature Research, Inc., every year.  In addition, Young Life employs certified operators who perform daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly inspections of all course elements.

    From the ACCT Website

    Founded in 1993, The Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) is the world’s leading and largest American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Accredited Standards Developer focused specifically and solely on the challenge course industry. ACCT is comprised of a nucleus of more than 2,600 members worldwide (including the United States, Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, Canada, Japan, Korea and Central America) and continues to develop a global alliance of like-minded organizations.

    ACCT Mission and Vision Statement.​


  5. Who supervises the courses?

    Young Life employs certified operators for all our challenge course elements, and the participants are under direct supervision at all times. In the event of an incident, there is a qualified medical professional on property at all times.

  6. I heard there was a death on a high-element camp swing in 2015? What happened and what has Young Life done to prevent further accidents?

    There was a tragic accident at Carolina Point in which a camper fell from the swing she was riding because she was not properly attached. This did not involve equipment failure but operator error. 

    Young Life camps have the highest safety standards in the youth camping industry. Nonetheless, we have responded to this tragic accident by implementing​ changes and enhancing operating procedures to ensure even greater safety in the future.

  7. What are the changes?
Although Young Life has always observed practices that already exceeded the requirements of the foremost accreditor of challenge course safety, we have taken additional steps to further enhance our operating procedures. These include:
  • ​​All campers are secured to swings in a full body harness or a chest and seat harness combination.
    • Dual Operators Confirmation of Secure Connection –​ After all campers have been connected to the swing bar and prior to sitting in the swing seat, each one will be instructed to put tension on the connecting carabineer and harness to test the connection. This will be verified (visually and tactilely) by both swing operators. Only after the dual confirmation between the two assigned swing operators will the ride proceed.
  • Course operators will be rotated or relieved so they are alert and focused.
  • Campers will no longer carry personal items with them on challenge course elements.
  • To ensure continual improvement and monitoring, any unsafe incidents will be reported immediately.
These changes in challenge course procedures strengthen an already rigorous system designed to protect campers, and further our commitment to kids and their safety.

​For more information, please contact Young Life Communications at 719-381-1890 or communications@sc.younglife.org.
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