“Oh help me,” one Scout prays before he jumps off a platform high in the canopy of the West Virginia forest. Bruce Henriksen, a guide at the Canopy at the National Jamboree says this remark and others similar to it are common. It’s not easy to jump off of a platform in the tall forest canopy, but luckily most Scouts overcome their nerves and spend hours touring the forest at the Summit’s Canopy Tour. 

Canopy Guide Henriksen explained just what makes this activity so intense. At the Summit, there are 4 courses, two of which are 3.5-hour tours and two of which are 2-hour tours. Participants hook onto an uninterrupted steel cable that takes them by zip-line from platform to platform. Some of the courses end with a 35′ rappel and others end with a walk off bridge. Through these courses, “you travel at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour and reach
heights of up to 135 feet off the ground. Some zip-lines are up to 825 feet in length. In other words, super fun,” Henriksen explains. These wild rides are a good explanation for the rigorous training Henriksen and other guides went through to become certified as a Canopy Tour Guide. 

Check out how Scouts soar through the Summit. You can hear the radio from Canopy guides, as they send Scouts from platform to platform. Then, once the participants are all hooked in to the next line, they can jump off the platform and fly down to the next platform. 


Tour Guide Training

Canopy tour guide Bruce Henricksen suits up in his harness, ready for a day of zip-liners

Because this activity is so intense, Bruce explained the rigorous training he went through. This training is required to become certified as a Canopy Tour Guide. Guides are required to participate in 2 days of staff training before even coming to Jamboree. Then comes 3 days off intense training at The Summit. Finally, potential guides take a test that about 10 percent of people don’t pass. The bar is set very high so that only the best and most prepared guides work with the Scouts. Once in the canopy, guides wear a 15 lb harness. They must radio the other guides when sending Scouts off to another platform. This way they know a Scout is on their way, since they can’t see through the thick, green canopy.

The Canopy works like a well-oiled machine and ensures the safest conditions for Scouts. That reassurance of safety is important when you’re jumping off platforms and zip-lining through the dense West Virginian forest. 

Soar the Summit

For Bruce Henriksen, the most enjoyable part of being a Canopy Tour guide has been seeing young men and young women come through who had never experienced anything
like it. Many times fears are expressed, but with coaching and encouragement, they take that first zip-line trip in the trees with a leap of confidence. “After going through the course everyone I’ve talked to was very excited about what they had experienced. This has made all the work and time invested worth the effort involved to be able to do this,” Bruce says. 

Conquering fears and trying new things is what Jamboree is all about. And few things are cooler–or more fun–than zip-lining from platform to platform in the forest canopy. And no matter how you measure it, the Summit is among the top zip and canopy tour sites in the United States. 

So, come soar at the Summit and see what it’s all about!

Madison Austin
studies Public Relations at Brigham Young University and is a marketing specialist at the Utah National Parks Council. She is an avid hiker and enjoys being outdoors. Growing up in the mountainous regions of Colorado and Virginia enabled her to follow these passions. After moving to Utah to attend college, she has spent her time fostering both a career in Communications and a love for Utah's National Parks.

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