Submitted by Darrin Johnson, General Manager of New England Base Camp
The first time I went rock climbing was at summer camp. You had to be 13 years old and they only offered it on Thursday morning. I skipped Reptile Study Merit Badge to go and to give it a try. After all, I had been waiting to try rock climbing for 3 years. My response was an instantaneous love of the sport. A love that would stick with me for almost 30 years. We went back to the campsite and tested out our new skill using bailing twine and the cliff next to our tent. Needless to say, that did not go well.
The next 25 years I would go climbing with the Scouts at summer camp, weekend climbing with friends and worked in the industry for a while. When my oldest came home from a school trip to the local climbing gym and wanted to go climbing all time, was when I determined that I needed to refresh my best practices. Even though I had learned new skills along the way, I knew that I needed to get better and safer.
Picking the right climbing course (or any course for that matter) is not easy. I did not want one that was too basic. I also did not want one that was way over my head. I looked all around, and in the end I decided on the Spirit of Adventure Climbing Course. For me, the reason was convenience. The timing of the course worked and the location was right for me. I was not sure what to expect, but my goal was to refresh my skills.
I sat by two people that I did not know. On my left was a person who had never gone climbing before in her life and just wanted to “give it a try.” To the right of me was a former White Mountain Guide who wanted to get his certification to take his Scouts climbing. I was pretty much right between the two of them in my skill level, so the seat was perfect.
The course succeeded with something that is not easy to do at all- they managed to relate and to teach at all the different levels. The person who had never climbed before, now takes her Scouts climbing regularly, helps out at Base Camp and is planning on taking her COPE certification. The former guide added a ton to the discussion during the course, helped everyone, learned several new safety skills and now teaches Climbing Merit Badge for units, districts and at Merit Badge University.
I got something out of the course that you really cannot put a price tag on. I did learn a ton (more than I ever thought that I would) and it did help make my best practices a whole lot better. The biggest thing though, without question, is that I feel safe taking my daughters climbing. We have gotten closer by climbing together on the weekends and bonding over the difficult climb that they managed to climb.
Come join us at New England Base Camp to become a Climbing Instructor and learn how to impact not only your life, but those of countless youth as well by registering HERE