Rock climbing: it may seem intimidating at first, but SLA has a new community based around the activity. The rock climbing club is not only dedicated to sharing a passion for climbing, but also to meeting new people and making new friends.
Meeting after school on Mondays and Thursdays, students make their way to The Cliffs at Callowhill, a climbing gym, and are allowed to stay for as much or as little time as they want. Most students participate in bouldering, a type of climbing where climbers do not wear a harness, instead just just droping down onto a padded mat when they complete a course, rather than be let down using a rope. There are many different courses to try with varying difficulty and they get changed every few weeks to keep things interesting.
While rock climbing may seem inaccessible or intimidating for a variety of reasons, history teacher Daniel Symonds, the teacher sponsor of the club, wants students to overcome their doubts and just give it a try.
“Rock climbing is a far more open-ended, accessible sport than its reputation might indicate,” Mr. Symonds remarked, “almost invariably people’s experience is, wow this is a lot more fun, a lot more accessible, a lot more forgiving, a lot less judgemental than I thought it would be.”
The climbing community is generally very supportive and encouraging, while also being willing to offer tips and advice to newcomers. People who are not even affiliated with SLA and are just climbing at the gym will applaud or congratulate you when you finish a course and give you suggestions on what you can do differently if you don’t. Everyone there understands that failure is a part of learning.
“People are not jocks,” observed Mr. Symonds.
Another benefit to the club, as put by Mr. Symonds is “we’re not a team, come when you have time, you get a membership to a great gym, you decide when you can do it.”
The freedom and choice is something that is valued by many members of the club. Senior Mira Young, a member of the club, agreed that “it’s nice to just be able to go when you feel like it.”
The rock climbing club is open to all grade levels, but there are noticeably fewer seniors than there are students in the younger grades.
“I think that maybe the primary reason is that the seniors themselves are just so old that maybe their health has deteriorated at this point that they are unable to physically climb,” explained Mr. Symonds. However, Mr. Symonds wants to encourage seniors to join and remember that “just because they’re in twelfth grade doesn’t mean they’re too old to climb.”
Not all seniors agree with Mr. Symonds’ thinking. . Senior Oskar Glahn remarks, “word on my momma, I didn’t even know climbing club was a thing.” This could present an alternative explanation to Mr. Symonds’ as to why there are so few senior participants in the club.
The rock climbing club can be a lot more than just an enjoyable sport for many people. It can help them make new friends, get some exercise, and build their self esteem and confidence, no matter what grade they are in. If you are interested in joining, contact Mr. Symonds or Ms. Ustaris.