Boys Ranch staff training and certification keeps kids who climb safe

At Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch providing a safe environment for our children is a big priority, especially when it comes to adventure! And, when it comes to adventure, the Boys Ranch Challenge Course is in abundance as a popular outdoor space for our youth and their mentors during the warmer seasons.

Under the careful direction of expertly trained staff who are certified with the Association of Challenge Course Technology (ACCT), our youth take on a wide variety of challenges at the course. Almost immediately you can see their confidence grow. With this confidence comes a sense of power, knowing they can safely climb up on a high structure or balance on a beam. Young people feel an immense sense of purpose and belonging when they participate in team-building exercises like those done on the master rope structures which is just one part of the Challenge Course.

The Challenge Course comes with many benefits. And, of course, those benefits are a result of careful planning and training by Boys Ranch staff.

Assistant Administrator for Adventure Based Service Luke Benton is an ACCT certified trainer, instructor and challenge course manager through Ropeworks Inc. based out of Austin, Texas. This means Benton is qualified to build challenge courses and to test and certify others, such as Boys Ranch staff, seeking ACCT certification.

“Being a part of the ACCT is very beneficial,” Benton said. “As a member and trainer, I get industry updates, new safety measures, and cutting-edge technical advice to keep our adventure staff at the front of the challenge course world.”

In February, Benton supervised and tested Boys Ranch Adventure Coordinator Kale Dabling for a Level II recertification for both high-level and low-level structures. Once an individual is ACCT certified, they must stay current on their skills and abilities by recertifying every three years.

Benton and Dabling can make anything look like fun. It was, however, serious business with some of the skills testing done high above the ground as Dabling demonstrated the proper technique for high-level rescue.

“Allowing us to train more staff without having to send them away to get this training is valuable,” Benton said. “I participate in annual instructor training as well to stay current and to create consistent training that is recognized globally. Also, I have another instructor come in every other time as a method of checks and balances to ensure we have a prodigious program.”

Benton shared that the Boys Ranch adventure program gets very high marks for providing safe and creative forms of outdoor, interactive therapy from by the Council on Accreditation, the leading national evaluator of human service providers.

The Challenge Course at Boys Ranch has also been recognized by the Texas Experiential Resource Association (TERA) as being an outstanding facility for experiential learning through play and recreational therapy.

In anticipation for this summer’s adventure-based activities and increasing interest from our young people, a number of Boys Ranch mentors will be completing Level I ACCT certification to help provide more access to the challenge course and other experiences.

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