raising little ones in the great outdoors

Tips for Climbing with Kids

I read a lot.  Maybe too much.

That is in part some of the reason why I wonder a lot about my parenting skills. My wife, Cyn, and I believe in having fun with our kids. We take them everywhere, and they have been able to participate in all the sports we do. But our favorite is climbing.

Cyn and I have climbed all over the world and love to do it as a couple. We want our kids, Mayah age 11 and Will age 9, to be able to enjoy what we do and hopefully take some of it on as their own in the future. Of course, when climbing is all you do, your kids have a way of not liking what you do.

We’ve figured out a few tricks to help make the fun last:

1)   Playtime antics. Find out what your kids like about being outdoors and incorporate it into your playtime. For our kids, they both love to camp so we make sure the trips have a lot of camp time mixed in with our climbing time.

2)   Snacks. Make sure you have the things they like to eat!!! Both our kids are skinny as sticks, but both seem to eat all the time. Cyn makes sure we always have a stash of snacks. It doesn’t matter if we are out for the day or the week snacks are always close by.

3)   Bring friends. No, not your own, although that does work if they have kids. We let our kids invite their friends along on the trips and make it fun. You’d be surprised how cool climbing becomes when the friends think it’s cool the parents climb.

4)   Know when to say when. Even though I might want to climb all day, I would rather spend that time engaged with the people I care most about. As a family we usually climb for 5 or 6 hours, then screw around. Whatever they want to do, we can usually do it! Since we’re not in a hurry to get anywhere, hanging out is easy. Since most camp areas have a stream in the area, it’s always fun to play in the water. Sometimes it’s really silly stuff. This past summer Will and I wandered around Shelf Road collecting dead deer bones. The highlight of our travels was a fully intact spine, which he still has displayed on top of his bedroom dresser.

Incorporating these few things into our lives has made time outside a more normal part of the kids’ lives. And it increases the fun we have as a family.

-Craig DeMartino

Mayah and Cyn at a belay at Combat Rock

Mayah and Cyn at a belay at Combat Rock

Will climbing at Combat Rock

Will climbing at Combat Rock

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One Response to “Tips for Climbing with Kids”

  1. Pete Hill says:

    For the first few years of climbing with our daughter, I would belay my wife and daughter up the same climb, at the same time. They would have a great time generally talking and laughing their way up.
    We did lots of climbs that way and had a great time, and removed a lot of the fear of it for our kid. It also avoided the dreaded, half way up the climb, no longer having fun, start to cry, hard to focus on getting down, syndrome. My daughter is 6 1/2 now and is super comfortable with heights and ropes, but still enjoys a climb with Mom.

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