When it comes to building self-reliance and team spirit at the same time as fostering outdoor adventure and overall fitness, there are few activities quite like rock climbing. Anyone whose child shows an interest should jump at the chance to encourage it.
Start Cheap and Easy
Climbing gear is expensive, so before you invest in a lot of stuff that may not have a future, explore a climbing course with a club or gym. They will provide all the equipment you need.
Even if you are an experienced climber, you may not be much good as an instructor, which is a different skill. So take your kid to lessons for her to learn the basic techniques and the safety essentials. Watch and learn, then you can take it from there.
Build Up Slowly
Some kids thrive on a challenge, others are easily discouraged. In either case, the key is to know when they are ready to move on.
For most people, it pays to start with a specially designed climbing wall. Here your kids can learn the basics and there will be climbs that are appropriate for each stage of development.
It won’t be long before you want to move outdoors. Boulder climbs are a great introduction. They are not too high, they don’t need ropes, and they offer the opportunity to practice a range of climbing skills, including the planning of a route from the ground.
Kids need frequent rewards so, as you progress to higher climbs, make a game by choosing routes with lots of stopping points where they can celebrate their achievement.
You may be keen to progress, but go at your child’s pace, and it will not be long before you are packing his gear into your trusty Jeep Patriot and heading for the wilds.
Keep It Stress-Free
A shot of adrenalin is all part of the appeal, but getting the balance right between stretching the natural love of climbing things that every child is born with and getting stressed out is important.
Don’t travel too far to begin with. You don’t want to arrive at your climbing site with a car full of grumpy and rebellious kids.
Have other fun things to do. There is quite a lot of hanging around when waiting your turn to climb, so don’t let them get too bored.
Make their climbing experience your priority. You may want a good day’s climbing as well, but they won’t be encouraged by having to sit and watch you.
Stop when you are ahead. Be very alert to every sign that your kid is getting tired. Don’t press her to take on just one more route before you go home—have a snack and talk about the day instead.
A Great Sport
Climbing is a wonderful activity for anyone and is a fine way for a family to share experiences and challenges together. Take it at the right pace and build a strong safety ethos, and you may sow the seeds of a lifetime’s skills.