It's called COPE, or a Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience. A COPE Course is a custom built challenge course or ropes course designed to meet the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Project COPE installation and operation procedures. COPE Programs are based on attaining seven goals, summarized as:
Teamwork. Teamwork is the key that allows a group to navigate a COPE challenge course successfully. The COPE challenge ropes course experience makes it clear that each individual can accomplish more as a member of a team than by going it alone.
Communication. A COPE challenge course encourages active learning of critical listening and discussion skills important for any Crew or individual attempting to accomplish a difficult task.
Trust. Participants completing difficult tasks on a COPE challenge course develop trust in the COPE staff members, their fellow Crew members and themselves. COPE staff are highly trained and certified in all safety aspects of climbing, by the way.
Leadership. Team members attempting to solve problems on a COPE course have abundant opportunities to develop and exercise leadership skills in small and large groups.
Decision Making. COPE requires Crews to make decisions by developing one or more solutions to a the specific obstacle, problem, or initiative. Teams must consider all the available resources and alternatives, and evaluate the probable results before moving forward.
Problem Solving. COPE challenges Crews and individuals to develop solutions to interesting problems. Participants must step outside of the box and frequently use creative ideas. Participants can then test their solutions and evaluate the results.
Self-Esteem. Meeting the challenges of a COPE challenge course allows individuals and groups to develop self-esteem and encourages them to set challenging yet attainable goals.
Ropes courses can be described as static, dynamic, vertical, and M-Belay. With a static course, participants are attached to an upper wire, belay cable, with lanyards (ropes and carabiners) for safety. If the participant dangles, they will be caught by the wire. Advantages of a static course include needing fewer facilitators, being able to get more participants up on the course at one time, and allowing participants to do multiple elements without having to be lowered and climb back up after each. On a dynamic course, participants are connected to a rope, which someone on the ground will be holding onto and belaying the participant on the course. Participants on a dynamic course remain on a belay the entire time: climbing up to the element, doing the activity, and being lowered to the ground after. A vertical course is very similar to dynamic, except that the element is the climb up. Vertical courses can be: vertical obstacle courses with hanging logs, ladders, and tires or alpine towers with their unique hour-glass shape of activities. The M-Belay is the most complicated of the two, and involves two separate belays. Otherwise, it is very similar to a dynamic course. The two courses at Camp Black Mountain that the Crew used were the dynamic and the vertical, which the locals called The Playpen.
It is unclear where and when the first ropes course was created. Obstacle courses have been used by the military to train soldiers as far back as the ancient Greeks. These courses, however, were primarily used for the training of extremely fit individuals and not necessarily aimed at the development of the whole person as is common practice on ropes courses today.