Climbing can be incredibly empowering, challenging, and transformative for kids. Through lessons of confidence and capability, climbing can be a transformational outlet. This article will give examples of a few benefits of climbing for kids. It goes a little like this if you've never worked with kids at a climbing gym.
Chaos breaks out around you as you triple-check harnesses and remind a dozen swarming children that everyone gets a turn– no repeats until everyone else has gone! The first few kids fly up the wall. Eager repeat faces want to tie in for the second time, but you notice a kid in the back who hasn't gone yet. You ask them if they'd like a turn, and though they show interest, you can tell it will take a little extra encouragement!
Responsibility and Safety
One of the first lessons climbing teaches kids is responsibility–especially regarding safety. Lessons on tying in, gym etiquette, belay partner safety checks, and redundancy in climbing are all chances for kids to learn how to keep themselves and other climbers safe. Beyond this, climbing teaches us that we are each responsible for maintaining a safe climbing environment for everyone.
You explain to the nervous kid how to check that their harness is secure and their knot is correct. They point to their gear and repeat back the double checks. They feel more comfortable, more in control, and are learning rad skills! Now, you explain, all there is left to do is.
Climbing requires you to trust your knowledge, gear, and others. Establishing a bond with your belay partner requires crazy levels of trust. That can be incredibly powerful with kids! As a child's trust in their belayer grows, they'll feel more and more able to try new things.
Climbing also teaches lessons of self-trust. No matter why a child is nervous about climbing, the experience of getting on the wall and overcoming that fear helps show them just how capable they are. Experiencing these lessons in such exciting and encouraging environments helps kids build confidence that extends far past the wall.
The kid checks their knot once as you take up the slack. You give them an encouraging nod before they reach for their first hold, and then they're off! They pull themselves up the first hold, the second, third! They look down to shout how exciting it is but, oh! It's a rookie move! They're looking down and suddenly not so sure they can keep going. You turn to the kids watching and ask if they can help encourage their friends!
Team Building & Communication Skills
Climbing is so full of team building skills that many team building programs and courses utilize climbing activities and skills! Climbing promotes problem-solving and collaboration between partners and group members– for example, if no one else can go until this climber makes it, how do we help them succeed? Climbing in collaborative settings can offer social, emotional, and physical growth for climbers of all ages, especially kids. These settings emphasize the value and importance of every child as part of a group and the importance of each child supporting their peers. The challenges of climbing demand the growth of communication skills individually and within groups.
After an all-hands-on-deck pep talk, their friends down below start to shout beta– move your right foot up a little, now you can reach that hold! The climber follows their lead. With a few more moves, they triumphantly get to the top of the route and sail back to the ground! The kids celebrate their group's success and encourage friends who may have initially felt separate or scared.
Problem Solving & Focus
Whether it's figuring out what hold comes next or needing a little group encouragement to keep moving, climbing is an activity that gets kids practicing active problem-solving skills in a fun way. It's a big deal for a kid to overcome a moment of fear with refocus and determination! Climbing helps kids grow these skills in all settings, not just at the gym. Climbing is also great for getting our brains to focus. This focus can be a positive experience for kids who struggle with maintaining attention or completing goals in other settings.
Reaching Goals & Self Empowerment
Finally, climbing offers individualized lessons of success and achievement for kids. While one child's goal might be to make it up every route, another might want to make it onto the wall! Setting goals, problem-solving when obstacles get in the way, and experiencing the personal empowerment of success against challenges can be revolutionary in kids' lives. In these lessons, kids learn to rely not only on the strength of their bodies but also on their minds! They learn to believe in themselves, trust their abilities, and never back down from a challenge.