New training standards for rope confidence courses launched

SINGAPORE – A national training syllabus for instructors of rope confidence courses was launched on Tuesday (Jan 18) by the Singapore Sport Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (SSCMF).

The move will provide a common syllabus for training and certification for such practitioners.

Mr Anthony Seah, president of the federation, said: “Presently, such training development courses are being administered by practitioners that have subscribed to a range of certifications… based on the syllabus obtained from the respective facility suppliers. This may result in different teaching and management methods.

“The main aim of such a syllabus (is) to mitigate and manage the ever present risks for participants from the young to the young-at-heart.”

The federation, which has 20 members, is the national sport association responsible for developing and growing climbing and mountaineering activities in Singapore.

The latest initiative was put forth together with HomeTeamNS, PAssionwave and commercial representatives.

The introduction of standards comes almost a year after the death of Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) student Jethro Puah. The 15-year-old boy died after losing his footing while participating in a challenge ropes course at Safra Yishun in February 2021.

However, SSCMF secretary-general Rasip Isnin said the standards were not a response to the death of the schoolboy.

“It was something that was a long time coming. The federation has already established climbing and abseiling standards, so it was only a natural progression for us to look at something related to high rope courses,” he said.

When contacted on Monday, the police said investigations into the death are still in progress.

During the launch, which was attended by Minister of State for Home Affairs Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, specialists from SSCMF and HomeTeamNS demonstrated scenarios which trainees will be put through.

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This included a participant losing his grip and falling on the rock wall and being unable to climb back up. To rescue him, a trainer used a hoisting device to offload his weight and lowered him to the ground using an assisted belay device.

Besides being able to assist rescue from a height, the syllabus will also train instructors on safely dispatching participants, and manoeuvring and recovering from point to point on a challenge ropes course.

Ms Siti Aishah, 22, who has been an instructor at HomeTeamNS for a year and is currently undergoing the course, expressed her support for it.

“It’s more tiered and structured. It give us instructors an introduction to all the best practices in the industry,” she said.

The certifications provide for the role of supervisors, instructors and specialists.

Depending on the role, courses range in duration from one to three days and remain valid from one to three years.

This certification will remain optional for practitioners, depending on the individual facilities they operate in.

Tuesday’s launch comes on the same day the Outdoor Learning and Adventure Education Association (OLAE) announced it is reviewing its accreditation framework and its current standard of practices for outdoor adventure education activities.

It comes three years after OLAE launched its first industry-standard of practices in 2018. This standard provides operational and competency guidelines, as well as technical references for outdoor activities, including land-based, water-based, height-based, and journey-based activities.

To review its accreditation, OLAE is working with various public and private stakeholders such as the National Youth Council-Outward Bound Singapore (NYC-OBS), and discipline experts both locally and internationally.

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OLAE is the largest provider of outdoor education activities in Singapore and represent 24 organisation members.

Mr Delane Lim, its honorary secretary, told The Straits Times: “While we welcome the introduction of training standards by the SSCMF, we were surprised that they did not do a consultation with the OLAE.”

According to him, the OLAE has been in consultation with OBS on this review since late last year. Both are major providers of high ropes challenge courses, and his understanding was that SSCMF was focused on climbing and abseiling.


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