In May, MetalMark staffer Riley Kane helped Boy Scout Troop 125 work to earn their Rock Climbing Merit Badges. Riley submitted this report to the Touchstone Climbing blog chronically the days adventures.
Sean, Tiberius, Sunny, Cooper, Liam, Matin, Alex, Christian, Matthew, Darius, Garrett and Cory lined up to take a group photo. Some were pushing each other to get better spots, others were putting their arms around each other. I walked to the middle back as their scout masters claimed the back left and right. Troop 125 closed in around me as if I was apart of the team. Click.
These twelve boys of different ages had just gone through the Intro to Climbing Class taught at MetalMark Climbing and Fitness, slightly amended for Boy Scouts. They learned how to put on a harness, how to tie a figure-eight follow-through knot, how to belay, and how to lower their partner safely back to the ground. Within an hour on the practice ropes they were ready to do the real thing. When I asked for volunteers, some shied away, but four spoke up. I had two of them set up on a 5.6 and the other two set up on a nearby 5.7. After seeing each of the twelve individually belay and instructing them one-on-one, and after each of them got to climb and be lowered without fuss, I was confident they had the knowledge needed to turn their mental skills to practical skills. Pairs of them broke off around the gym trying routes that at first appeared too difficult, but within an hour became possible. As their eagerness overtook my instruction, I knew it was time to set up the rappel line.
I set up the rappel near a 5.6 in the gym. One by one, I called upon each scout to climb the 5.6, set up their rappel, and rappel themselves to the ground while i backed them up. Some scouts had no problem with it. Others needed to practice setting up their rappel on the ground a few times. A few needed to repeat the exercise before grasping the concept. Some rappelled fast, some slow, some choppy, but all made it down. And within a few attempts, the fast, the slow and the choppy became smooth rappels. What more could an instructor ask for? There were multiple boys that came up to ask when they would coming back....
Riley is seen above leading a MetalMark Outdoors Trip, a program he helped found at MetalMark.