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Walk the line? After review, slacklining gets a (qualified) OK

Find two trees, grab some friends, and work on your balance: Slacklining is now an approved Scouting activity — with qualifications.

After a thorough review, the BSA’s Health and Safety team officially OK’d the extreme sport this week for all Scout units, districts, and councils.

I first told you about the addictive, challenging, community-based activity that involves walking across a two-inch tightrope after an Eagle Scout slacklined at the Super Bowl.

At the time, though, the BSA hadn’t ruled on slacklining. “Don’t try this at home,” I wrote.

Times change, and now your Scouts have the go-ahead to follow in Eagle Scout Andy Lewis’ famous footsteps. Well, provided your Scouts also follow new BSA safety rules outlined below.

First, a reminder about what exactly slacklining is.

Gibbon Slacklines, the brand used during Eagle Scout Andy Lewis’ Super Bowl show, describes the sport as “the act of balancing along a narrow, flexible piece of webbing which is low to the ground and usually anchored between two trees. It’s not just for epic performances, but rather something anyone can do in their own backyard.”

Your backyard is only the beginning. It’s not hard to imagine troops, teams, and crews setting up slacklines wherever their unit’s next Scouting adventure takes them.

And now that slacklining has the BSA’s blessing, anything is possible. If Lewis gets his way, that would include a Slacklining merit badge.

“If that happens, I’m interested in helping write the pamphlet,” he said.

But first, read the…

Official BSA guidelines on Slacklining

Slacklining is an adventure program growing in popularity. As with any activity involving height and motion, there is risk involved. Before units, districts, or councils decide to promote or host slackline activities and other adventure sports, they must follow the Sweet 16 of BSA Safety and submit a tour and activity plan for council review with a description that includes the slacklining activity.

Staff members for these types of events are responsible for learning proper setup, operational guidelines, and safety techniques. Equipment used for these activities must be designed for the adventure sport industry and will be exposed to extreme forces. Therefore, it should not be used for other purposes. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

  • Fall precautions should include spotters or crash pads.
  • Stepping off the line safely is recommended when a participant feels he or she is about to fall.
  • Trees used for anchors should be protected from damage and be at least 8 inches in diameter.
  • The line should never be more than 3 feet high.
  • Never allow more than one participant on the line at a time.
  • Acrobatics (any time your head is lower than your torso) are prohibited.

Will your Scouts give it a try? Leave a comment below!


Photo by Flickr user Speleo Perdido.

16 Comments on Walk the line? After review, slacklining gets a (qualified) OK

  1. When will rifle and shot gun shooting be approved at the troop level?

    • With the right people present you can! (All shotgun shooting activities must have a certified NRA Range Safety Officer directly supervising all live fire on the range. Additionally, the instruction offered must be done by a currently certified National Camping School shooting sports director certified as an NRA Shotgun Instructor, or an NRA-certified Shotgun Instructor or an NRA/USA Shooting/CMP-certified Shotgun Coach. These must be two separate individuals.) My son’s troop is going shooting this weekend!

    • Ray,

      Have you seen the BSA’s Shooting Sports Guide?

    • Tom petrik // March 13, 2012 at 4:01 pm // Reply

      Yeah, rifle and shotgun with a certified instructor in the discipline and a range safety office (two separate people).

      We are offering instructor courses as often as we can where someone is qualified to instruct it.

  2. Wonder if you can build your own slackline (it’s not hard).

    • I have built it with climbing rated 2″ tubular webbing and a 6000lb ratcheting tie down. I also tie a climbing rated 10.5mm rope above to be used as a safety/guide line. This lets anyone try it with less risk of injury.

  3. Reblogged this on Lewis and Clark District Committee.

  4. I would like see the Scouts in our Troop try slacklining. Great opportunity for something to try on a campout.

  5. DaveChilders // March 19, 2012 at 11:05 am // Reply

    Might be fun to do with the Troop

  6. This will be offered as an activity at our spring camporee at Moraine State Park north of Pittsburgh.

  7. scoutmastertroop1 // March 27, 2012 at 8:59 am // Reply

    Good Idea…. Add it to the in camp activities that can be brought to each camping trip and summer camp.

  8. Pallack Linda // March 28, 2012 at 7:51 am // Reply

    We are planning on introducing slacklining at our spring camporee. I asked that ? of our professional advisor. We were advised that commercially made equipment should be used for liability reasons. I understand that and have to reason that it does not seem as if it will wear out easily so is a good investment.

  9. We already bought one for the troop and will use it next month on the campout!

  10. Our Venturing Crew has been known to thrown a slackline up on numerous occasions just on a whim. It is a quick easy way to have fun at a meeting or during down time on a camp out. The safety guidelines are a good idea, but filing a Tour Plan is overkill. This will definitely put a damper on the spur of the moment fun we have had with this.

  11. We had talked about doing this at our Webelos Woods next year….since Webelos can’t zip-line

  12. Tina Muller // June 17, 2013 at 4:31 pm // Reply

    Our cubs did this at the family camp out this month. A parent brought the slackline and held the boys’ (and parents’) hands as they walked. It was fun.

4 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Boy Scouts of America approve Slacklining | harrycloudfoot
  2. Fantastic! « Scouteradam's Blog
  3. Enter to win one of three Gibbon slacklines « Bryan on Scouting
  4. From Scouting to the Super Bowl: Eagle Scout slackliner shares his story « Bryan on Scouting

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