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.

About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.