Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Kid Rock

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Kid Rock

Article excerpt

Introducing Young Climbers to Possibilities

Climbing provides an ideal activity for children to discover their individual movement potential, build self-confidence, problem solve, and, of course, improve upon physical traits such as balance, strength and flexibility.

In the spring of 1996, I began working for Cliffhanger Indoor Climbing Centre in Vancouver, BC, as a parttime climbing instructor. At that time, Cliffhanger was a relatively new facility, having opened in 1993, and being the first climbing center in Vancouver, it was steadily building a regular clientele of climbing enthusiasts.

During the early years, Cliffhanger owner, Colin Whyte, and manager, Daniel Poggi, had strived to create a gym that made indoor climbing accessible to people of all ages and abilities. This was accomplished by providing a wide range of programs and courses such as: "Just Climbing" belay sessions, which provided curious beginners an opportunity to try climbing while being belayed by our staff (the act of protecting a climber's ascent); introductory courses which familiarized beginners with basic gym safety, equipment use and belay techniques; technique and lead climbing courses and; drop-in times for kids to develop their climbing skills under the guidance and supervision of our instructors.

As an aspiring teacher, who had recently completed my BaPhed at Brock University in Movement Education, I was eager to broaden our existing "Kidrock" drop-in program to make climbing more accessible to children and teens. After all, as far as I was concerned, climbing provided an ideal activity for children to discover their individual movement potential, build self-confidence, problem solve and, of course, improve upon physical traits such as balance, strength and flexibility. The most exciting factor to me, however, was that all children, regardless of size, age or physical ability, could come out of a climbing experience having achieved some degree of success and improvement. Although Cliffhanger did provide opportunities for children to experience climbing through our drop-in programs, "Just Climbing" and school group sessions, little was available for those who showed a keen enthusiasm for climbing. Thus, the "Kidrock Level One" program was born.

The objective of "Kidrock Level One" is to provide children, who show an interest in climbing, with the tools necessary to become self-sufficient climbers and have fun pursuing climbing as a recreational activity. The program has undergone numerous modifications and refinements over the past several years in order to optimally meet the needs of all participants. For instance, at the outset we ran the camps for a full day (6 hours), which proved to be too intensive for the average beginner, so now we offer 4 hour, half-day camps. The original program also had participants apply their newfound skills to the rock on their final day, but this proved to be a little intimidating for many children.

At present, we feel that we have optimized the camps to meet the needs of all participants and consistently meet our program objectives. However, every week of summer brings a whole new group of children between the ages of 7 to 15, creating new challenges for the camp staff. The staff are essential to the success of Kidrock, as it is ultimately their responsibility to assess each participant's progress and to offer appropriate instruction as necessary. All staff working in the Kidrock programs are chosen based on both their experience as an instructor, as well as their enthusiasm for working with kids. In addition to this, the program maintains a student to teacher ratio of 4:1. This ensures that participants receive personalized instruction everyday of the program.

The Level One half-day camps are offered from Monday to Friday, each week of the summer holidays, for 4 hours daily, between gam and 1pm. Throughout these 20 hours of instruction, the goals for individual participants may vary slightly, depending on their age, previous experience and comfort level. …

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