No matter the climate where you live, spring brings new beginnings. In the challenge course world, the annual course inspection is often a piece of that.
1. When scheduling the inspection, the earlier the better. A reputable vendor will have their schedule full quite a few months in advance, particularly in the “busy season,” which begins in March and runs through early July. If there are other courses in the area which are serviced by the same vendor, see if you can get together and schedule inspections at the same time--easier for the vendor, and perhaps you will all save some money on travel expenses.
2. The inspector will need to climb on the course to see all of the hardware, check connections and examine all components. This is a great time to trim that branch you have been meaning to get out of the way!
3. The course is only one element of the inspection; the equipment is the other part. Have all equipment and equipment logs out and ready to be reviewed. Date-of-purchase records may be necessary to determine retirement of certain pieces of equipment. Rope log records also will be examined. The Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) standards--the most prevalent in the industry--require following manufacturers’ recommendations, which includes retirement of gear. In some cases, if the gear--such as harnesses--are still in excellent shape and have not been used extensively, you could ask the manufacturer if they are willing to inspect the harnesses and give them an extra few years of life.
4. The challenge course manager or another lead staff person should accompany the inspector, as there may be questions about certain elements, or discussions of findings. At the end of the inspection, make sure there is a wrap-up conversation so you know exactly where the course stands--what might have been failed and why, what you need to watch and plan for, and what equipment needs replacing. Some simple repairs might be able to be done right at that moment.
5. After the inspection, you will receive a written report from the inspector. Be sure to ask questions about what is on the report, and then start planning to make any necessary repairs and replace equipment as needed. This is a critical step in proper maintenance of the course.
6. In addition to scheduling the physical inspection, determine if you need to update any manuals or procedures, which staff members need refresher training and any other administrative tasks.
Finally, make sure you also have a chance to enjoy the spring sunshine and flowers – schedule that time for you and your staff as well!
Sylvia Dresser has served as the Executive Director of ACCT since 2002. She can be reached via e-mail at Sylvia@acctinfo.org, or (847) 945-0829. For more information about ACCT, visit www.acctinfo.org.