As a sports family we’ve tried it all. My oldest went through the gauntlet of backyard baseball, intramural soccer, and finally tennis in middle school. He doesn’t do anymore sports, but he does play with a golf simulator on his computer, so I know that the lessons have stuck with him.
In spite of past experience, however, we were lost when it came to finding a sport that our two youngest, 9 and 11, could do together. These two are attached at the hip, but they can’t play on the same team in a lot of sports because of the age difference and gender separation in sports.
I was about to throw in the towel when I was hit by inspiration. I was at the farmer’s market a few months ago and I saw an unfamiliar booth. For some context, it’s not uncommon for local businesses to come down to the market just to hand out their cards, whether or not they’ve got much of anything to do with farming or homemade crafts.
This week it was a group from the local climbing gym who had come out. They were handing out flyers and had some of the tools they use for demonstration. One thing in particular that caught my eye was their kid’s program. I asked the woman behind the table about it. She was very friendly and told me about how they offer after school kid’s programs. They break up the age groups into 6-8 and 9-12, so I knew that I’d hit the jackpot. There’s also no gender separation in rock climbing, so my two youngest could do it together with no trouble.
After doing some research to make sure that it was totally safe (I’m a mom, it’s what I do), I quickly signed my kids up. Here’s a report on how things have been going so far.
The kids were super excited when I first brought up the idea. My husband also pointed out that climbing had just been accepted into the 2020 Olympics, so it was definitely as real a sport as anything else we’ve done in the family. The first few weeks I stayed close just to see how they were going to treat the kids, how much fun everyone was having, and just generally to make sure I’d made a good decision. For those of your wondering where my husband is in this, he usually sticks to his own dad adventures and leaves the day-to-day with the kids to me.
The first session filled me with glee and worried me a little at the same time. They spent a lot of time talking about safety, how to use the ropes, what to do when you fall, how to stretch properly, and all this stuff that sports moms geek out about. The kids, though, looked a little bored as time went on. Every child got a chance to go up and have the instructors show them one-on-one how to clip the rope into their harnesses with their carabiner. I thought this was super important since the ropes catches you if you fall, but it took so long for each kid to go up, have the instructor show them what to do, then do it the right way on their own. I was worried my kids were going to nod off before it was their turn.
Fortunately, however, things picked up pretty quickly after that. As soon as they started climbing on the huge wooden walls with plastic holds the kids were unstoppable. I’m not ashamed to say that my girl and boy were a little scared of going too high at first, but once they got the hang of it they were practically flying up the wall. The instructors were very good with kids, too, and clearly had some training about how to be patient with kids who are doing something new in an unfamiliar environment.
All in all I have to say that signing my kids up for rock climbing was a resounding success. I’d recommend it to any other moms out there who are looking for some unconventional sports to get their kids into. It’s great for staying healthy and my kids tell me that it’s a ton of fun. I might even try it myself soon.