Sunday, May 27, 2012

Conquering The Rock Face: Climbing For Kids

English mountaineer George Mallory is widely believed to have been the one who said “Because it’s there” in response to the question about why he climbed Mount Everest. Lost forever on the mountain in 1924, he probably never knew how famous those words would become; nor could he ever have expected rock climbing to become such a huge part of modern life. The sport offers a unique challenge for climbers of all ages, and various children’s rock climbing activities have become extremely popular. The youngest person to conquer Everest so far has been 13-year-old Jordan Romero from California, who achieved the honor in May 2010. Climbing Everest might be extreme, but your youngster can still enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle taking part in rock wall climbing.

Starting Out

Climbing walls can be found in schools, public gyms, and even state fairs on occasion. If your family is enthusiastic enough, you can even build one in your home. The sport teaches children a variety of skills, from climbing techniques through to accepted safety practices. It also teaches soft skills such as focus and concentration, as well as a range of climbing ethics that your child can use throughout his (or her) life.

Find out whether your child has a talent for rock climbing before you invest in expensive climbing gear and facilities. Start him out on basic apparatus such as gorilla playsets, which will help you establish whether he has the co-ordination and strength essential for the sport. If he displays confidence in his abilities, take him to a rock climbing summer day camp. These are offered in several states, including California, Oregon, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. At the camps, your child will receive instruction from experts in how to use the climbing gear, and be able to try out his climbing at beginner level.

Onward and Upward

Once your child masters the basics of rock climbing, whether it’s on a climbing wall or a cliff-face, he’ll be ready to move on to more advanced techniques. Footwork techniques such as toe hooks and kneebars, and experience in rappelling and transitions, are all invaluable if he plans to climb serious rock faces. Climbing programs offered at some state parks have a guide to student ratio of around 1:6, which means each child gets personal instruction and supervision. The children learn how to tie climbing knots, climbing commands and movements, and the techniques of anchoring and belaying. Costs for climbing programs range from under $100 to around $400, while costs for camps can go up to $1,800.


Rock climbing provides a full-body workout in a controlled environment for your child. At the same, it builds confidence, fosters friendships and collaboration with others, and teaches children to focus on their individual performance. Rather than competing with others, the child competes against himself to improve his climbing and push his limits. He sets his own goals, gives him the chance to be outdoors and enjoy the environment. He learns safety habits, responsibility and respect for nature, and has a constructive outlet for his excess energy.

Your child may not be the next Edmund Hillary, or even a Jordan Romero, but if he enjoys rock climbing it can open doors that may otherwise remain closed. Excellence in a sport of this sort can give him the chance to travel, to earn an independent living as a guide or instructor, or perhaps even awake a love of rocks that can lead him to study geology. Either way, it’s worth giving him the opportunity to try it, and see whether it’s for him or not.


This guest post was written by independent journalist Paul C. Patridge who frequently blogs about Child Health/Safety tips and gorilla swing sets for Healthy active children.

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