My name is Amanda and I am a fourteen year old girl who became interested in rock climbing through Climb and Conquer.
When I was twelve I began going to the indoor climbing nights the program hosts for children and their mentors belonging to the Big Brothers and the Big Sisters societies. I immediately became obsessed with the sport. The volunteers there were kind, encouraging, and praised me for my technique. I enjoyed the mental challenge of figuring out where my hands and feet needed to go to get me up the wall, and I liked listening to the tips the volunteers gave me, which I would have never thought of. I was in awe of the climbers there. I had been to a rock climbing event before, but had not understood how complex the sport is and had been unengaged and almost bored. However, because of Climb and Conquer I loved it. I agreed immediately when they offered to pay for me to take lessons.
Being involved in climbing came at a very good time for me. I was in the seventh grade and my teacher was loading homework onto my class while social pressures became more intense. I was struggling with schoolwork, friendships, and my self-image. My weekly climbing lessons at the Richmond Cliffhanger offered welcome relief. I was good at rock climbing (at a time when I was achieving in little else,) and received occasional words of admiration for how quickly I advanced through harder and harder climbs. I made friends with some of the other climbers (one of whom I still keep in touch with through email) and felt much more accepted there than at school. At school I became known for rock climbing, in the same way that many of my classmates were known for dance or piano or singing. It was one of very few things that I was achieving in. Climbing helped me maintain some of my declining confidence and push through into high school. I am now doing fairly well socially and academically, and am able to be a better role model for my younger brother, who is involved in social development programs, and my little sister. Also, at a time when most of my peers were relying on participation in volleyball and basketball teams (neither of which I can play) to stay active, it let me participate in an afterschool sport. One evening started all of that for me, and I’m sure the same would happen to many of the kids Climb and Conquer proposes to send climbing next summer.
It is truly a great sport for kids to experience, especially when experienced climbers are there to engage you in it. It teaches creativity and perseverance and stresses technique, which makes it more fun than many purely physical sports. It helps you overcome fears. It takes you to places you have never imagined. It introduces you to great and supportive people. As you become more involved in it, it pushes you to the edge physically and mentally. There is nothing like making it to the top of a wall of rock, with exhausted muscles and sore hands which smell like sweat and chalk, and finally gripping on to that hold which you’ve been trying for all along, and (if you’re outdoor climbing) maybe there’s an ocean panorama to reward you for making it up.
Climb and Conquer helps a lot of kids, some of whom come from low income families, and some of whom come from families which have no time for providing kids with new opportunities. Outdoor rock climbing may be one of their first introductions to the areas beyond the suburbs. This could spur their interest not only in rock climbing, but in getting out of the city in general, leading to a more active lifestyle for them and someday their children. Climbing should be an opportunity provided to everybody.
The idea Climb and Conquer proposes is efficient and unique. The volunteers who would help mentor the kids mean the cost of sending the kids climbing would be cut considerably. Also, because they have partnerships with so many organizations (Big Brothers, Big Sisters, PLEA Kidstart, Vancouver school Board, Richmond School Board, YWCA, etc.) it is easy for them to reach kids who will benefit from outdoor rock climbing. It is unique in how little support there is in Vancouver for financially disadvantaged kids who want to climb.
I think that what Climb and Conquer proposes has great potential to get kids engaged in rock climbing and the great outdoors. I know from experience how much kids can benefit from climbing. It would be great if you could provide them with funding for this project, so that they can continue helping kids, as they have previously done so well.
Sincerely, Amanda B.