by: Guest Writer, Ken Jacquot
ACCT - Where it Began
The Adventure Course industry sort of started in the early 60’s and really gained traction in the 70’s. Challenge activities, initiatives, group games, low and high ropes courses, and the industry defining "challenge course" became an important part of experiential learning during this time in the States. The Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) became an entity around 1993 and initially was organized to help aid those who were building structures and create standards that we all could live and grow with. Creating the first and most relevant standards for the adventure course industry has placed ACCT in a position to attract and advocate for ropes courses, challenge courses, adventure parks, zip lines, and canopy tours.
ACCT standards are an important guide for any of us who build, inspect, train, certify, operate, or design adventure courses. ACCT standards have evolved with our industry and have been accepted as an approved American National Standard (ANSI). ANSI & ACCT standards are recognized and referenced by states and federal regulatory agencies, used in legal cases, and used by international agencies.
ACCT - Where We Are Now
ACCT has grown and evolved from a few folks to a membership close to 4,000. Along with the general membership, ACCT created and has implemented a vendor accreditation program called Professional Vendor Members (PVMs). For companies to become a PVM they must go through a rigorous vetting process, continue to professionally improve, and go through a professional review every three years. With over 40 PVMs around the world, aerial adventure businesses looking for a company to design, build, or inspect their operations or train their staff, have a strong list of highly qualified vendors to choose from to ensure their operation receives the best services the industry has to offer.
ACCT's roots run deep in the world of experiential education and have expanded and accelerated into commercial parks, zip lines, and canopy tours. Using concepts, strategies and structures in very similar ways, both educational and commercial operations have improved and benefited from the ACCT community. With this international growth, the need for improvements in equipment, tools, and resources, and the advancements in adventure technologies are essential for business in this unique industry.
This need has opened the door wide for innovations in technology that improve user experiences and adds to their thrills, along with advancements in risk management tools to improve safety practices at these operations. Advancements in manufacturing quality and control, new systems like smart and continuous belay systems, free fall devices, and software dedicated to equipment and risk management are all answers to the demand for smarter systems that are designed with the highest safety standards in mind.
There is no better example of the innovation and advancements in our industry than the ACCT conference exhibit hall. Vendors from all over the globe come to sell their latest and greatest. This is a worldwide marketplace for educators looking for new games to energize their teambuilding programs and commercial operators wanting the latest reservation software and newest gear. ACCT's conference and exhibit hall demonstrate that ACCT is the undisputed industry leader, advancing the industry and enabling members' ongoing success.
ACCT writes the book on this stuff, literally. The work they do is a reflection of all of us, and they are driving force behind the advancements of this industry. I love this industry and always find it fresh, exciting, and full of people focused on the importance of the responsibility we have to this world of at-height adventures. Myself, my companies, the PVMs, and the greater membership of ACCT are all sharing and growing together. What's not to like about that?
*AAT Note* - We have been exhibiting at ACCT for eight years and we can't wait to exhibit at this year's ACCT in Ft. Worth, Texas.
For anyone looking for us at this year's show, we are ready to talk gear with you, answer your questions, and hear your suggestions for new gear for us to sell or stock. You can find us at Booth #209, we'll be the ones with whistles next to the food. We will have gear on display in our booth along with a Powerfan Free Fall on site for people to check out. We will also be partnering with the team at the Koala Continuous Belay booth (#500 & 501) as this is our newest product line added to the store! For those looking for more beta on this product line, we will be hosting a demo on designing for and installing Koala Continuous Belay on Feb. 2nd at 2:30 pm.
We will also have a booth dedicated to Papertrail (#208) so you can all find out how this software will actually save you money and time when it comes to equipment and facility inspection tracking. Get a cup of coffee and join our product specialists for the full tour of how this software works by attending our Papertrail demo session on Feb 3rd at 8:30 am. - - - Let the fun begin!
About Ken Jacquot, President / CEO / Chief Instigator at Challenge Towers Aerial Adventures
The mastermind of it all. Inspired by possibility and passionate about everything, Ken has been immersed in the world of challenge and aerial adventure courses for more than two decades. Getting people together in the outdoor classroom to create meaningful experiences - that’s what Ken was after when he first started Blue Ridge Learning Centers. Facilitating team building events for groups began at the Valle Crucis and Blowing Rock Conference Centers, in the mountains of North Carolina. From the start at these local conference centers, Challenge Towers Aerial Adventures was born as the need for professionally built aerial structures began to rise among camps, schools, and leadership facilities. Ken is an owner/operator of Challenge Towers, Aerial Adventure Technologies, and High Gravity Adventures. He lives creek side with his wife and son in the New River Valley near Boone, North Carolina.