Are your kids climbing up the walls? Perhaps its time to consider some actual rock climbing venues where they can learn how to do so, but properly equipped! Rock climbing is an exhilarating sport that can be practiced indoors or outdoors. Furthermore, it has great benefits, such as increasing motion and flexibility, and providing a full body workout. And, because it is such an exciting and fun activity, it is great for kids.
Although all the harnessing and heights might give you the idea that it might not be a safe sport for kids, rock climbing has actually been statistically proven to be safer than traditional sports such as hockey and rugby. Of course, as with all adventure sports, being adequately prepared and guided is paramount. And of course, kids will require a lot of carefully supervised instruction, specially young kids, when they begin rock climbing. But you can rest assured that they will love it, and it will help them in building both a healthy body and mind.
Marie Lollok Klementova is a UIMLA-certified guide in the Czech Republic that offers guided rock climbing programs for adults and kids. Read on to find out more about what she has to share about her experience teaching rock climbing skills to children!
At what age can kids start climbing?
Officially, climbing courses usually ask that children be 5 years or older to start training. This is because 5 is the age at which kids can start following instructions and have more autonomy. However, there is no actual physical requirement that stops kids from starting earlier. Although they have to be supervised, children as young as 2 already have sufficient motor skills to start acquiring basic movements in the form of play. Of course, at such a young age, they always need the proper supervision and company of their parents.
"My kids started to climb (real indoor and outdoor climb) at the age of 2+. They did not climb 10-20 meter height and not hours and hours. But they liked the movement and the feeling that they were doing the same thing as their mummy."
What are the benefits of rock climbing at an early age?
Both indoor and outdoor climbing offer many benefits to anyone who practices this sport. Because children are developing their bodies and motor skills, practicing rock climbing at such an early age can be specially beneficial for their development. It allows them to build strength in their arms, legs and core, and helps with coordination, balance and stability. "What is the next move?" is also a question they will learn to make themselves and answer. Additionally, climbing teaches kids patience, confidence, trust and increases their concentration. However Marie advises against having too many expectations with young climbers:
"I would advise parents not to have great expectations from their children. For children of up to about 10 years of age, climbing will not be the main target itself. Children want to play and if they stop doing well, they lose interest in the activity. It's good to let everything go. It's good if parents join their children – it doesn't matter if they have no experience. A parent is always the greatest model (pattern) for a child."
And indeed, another great aspect of rock climbing for children is that they can enjoy the activity with their parents and siblings. Programs such as this indoor rock climbing training for families are a great way for parents to bond with their kids and vice-versa. And because it is such a fun activity for all ages, everyone who participates has the chance to enjoy it.
Last but certainly not least, outdoor climbing gives kids a chance to interact with wilderness environments. In a world that is increasingly becoming desensitized to nature, exposing children to outdoor adventures is a great way to get them away from the tablets and out in the sun.
What does a rock climbing program for kids consist of?
Teaching kids rock climbing skills involves different steps. To begin, they have to get acquainted with the sensation. To do so, on the programs she offers, Marie lets the children climb low to get the vertical wall motion such as in bouldering. At this stage, they don't need to be secured with a rope yet. Then, after a first approach to the wall, Marie shows kids how to get used to a climbing harness.
"For fun, I swing them in the harness and I teach them to get used to being lowered down."
Finally, the last stage of the training consists in explaining first some safety techniques including how to place hands and feet so that coming down on the rope from any height is safe. And then, after that, Marie shows some basic climbing techniques which the children get to practice!
Indoor or outdoor?
There are benefits to both indoor and outdoor climbing options. Indoor climbing is great for kids because it provides a more controlled environment for them to start acquiring skills. However, climbing outdoors gives them a chance to interact with nature and relate with the environment on a different level. Marie suggests starting indoor and then working up to build the necessary techniques and confidence needed to climb outdoors.
"Personally, I'd rather start indoor. Children can better see where to place their hands and legs, and often the grades and holds on the walls of indoor climbing gyms are marked in color, or modeled as animals and other attractive shapes. Additionally, children are more supervised, and gyms usually have climbing corners so the child can more easily combine climbing the wall with playing."
Furthermore, although it is more beautiful in nature, when going climbing with children, finding the correct paths and walls on which they can feel comfortable is not always so easy. Therefore, it is very important to give them proper instruction first in a gym and then take them with an experienced guide to the great outdoors.
This indoor rock climbing program in Brno for families is a great place to start, and then once the whole team has the basics down pat, this half-day rock climbing program for kids in the Moravian Karst is perfect to continue the climbing experience outdoors.
Marie also offers other amazing outdoor family adventures including this 4-day moms and kids hike in Jesenik, this 5-day holiday program in Hallstatt near Salzburg, and this family week in the Dolomites, with camping and easy hikes near Cortina d’Ampezzo!
Rock climbing is an exhilarating sport with many benefits for the whole family, regardless of age. It is great for building both a strong body and mind while enhancing relationships to self, to others and to nature. Make sure to check out the many rock climbing excursions and options worldwide featured at explore-share.com and start planning your adventure adventure!