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Experiencing The Climbing Wall

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On Tuesday afternoon, campers experienced their second day of a wide-range of activities which included the Climbing Tower. With a variety of experience levels, some campers had braved climbing walls before, but most of the children had either very little or no experience. Despite the differing levels of experience, it was clear that the majority of the children were ecstatic with anticipation. Most children listened with bright smiles and eager faces as the activity leader, Danny, discussed the safety gear and rules. Danny instructed the campers on how to put on the climbing harness starting with, “Then you put the belay loop over your belay-button!” To Danny’s surprise, the staff found this joke much funnier than the children did. While the children may not have appreciated Danny’s joke, they did enjoy his method of testing the security of helmets. This method included the children throwing up a ‘rock and roll’ sign and shaking their heads, proving that the helmet is safely secured.

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Once each child had a harness and a helmet that had been secured by a trained staff member, it was finally time! The children walked excitedly around the climbing wall, deciding which side to challenge first. Lines of children formed on the benches as they watched the staff members carefully secure gear as their fellow campers began to climb. With each level of climbing experience came a different level of nervousness for each individual camper. Some campers went up one single time and proudly rang the bell before returning to the ground to cheer on their fellow campers. Some of the climbers quickly adapted to the challenge and attempted to climb each face of the wall. However, some campers created personal goals of climbing partway up the wall and struggled to tackle their fear of falling. These children were encouraged by staff members to practice leaning onto the rope so that they could feel the security in their harnesses. The campers that stated that they wanted to come down were met with an open question of, “Would you like to try one more step?” The children were supported, encouraged, and praised whether they reached the top, or they only took three steps.

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It is in my own personal opinion that the most fantastic part of this activity was watching the children support and encourage each other. Whether they were quickly climbing the wall, taking their time, or needing a break; the campers shouted encouraging words up the wall such as, “Keep going!” “You’re almost there!” “You’re doing a great job!” and things of that nature. The most endearing moments were the ones where, despite personally struggling to climb the wall, the children continued to encourage each other. The encouragement between the instructors, the staff, and the campers has been a clear indication of the supportive and bonded community that continues to exist here at Green River Preserve.

Story by Kaley Tritt with photos by Brandon S. Marshall & Samantha Keebler