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Cliffs of Id was proud to host the LAPD cadets of the Wilshire Division through the Medicines Global Outdoor Youth Ambassador program. Outdoor stewardship is as near and dear to us as rock climbing—the two are inextricable. So playing a role in both introducing new climbers to the sport and teaching them ways to take care of the land was a mega-win for us! Thank you MGOYA and LAPD for joining us. Read on for their write-up of the program.

The Medicines Global Outdoor Youth Ambassador (MGOYA) program has opened the door to the world of bouldering and rock climbing to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Cadets of the Wilshire Division. Janice and Johanna Belson, a mother-daughter team, co-founded Medicines Global in 1999 and MGOYA in 2004.

MGOYA has been creating wilderness opportunities for Los Angeles urban youth for over ten years. In 2006 and every year since, Medicines Global Outdoor Youth Ambassadors have had the opportunity to camp, hike, and rock climb as participants of Climb Smart in Joshua Tree National Park.

Sgt. Kirby plans Cadet MGOYA Program at Cliffs of Id

MGOYA has provided various youth adventures with the LAPD. While out on her morning LEKI Nordic Walk at Pan Pacific Park, Janice Belson had a fortuitous meeting with Sergeant A.J. Kirby, Officer in Charge of Community Relations of the LAPD Wilshire Division. Sgt. A.J. Kirby and Janice Belson struck up a conversation about the history of MGOYA and a new collaboration began to form.

The Belsons are providing outdoor activities with an emphasis on climbing, hiking, surfing, and kayaking for the youth of Los Angeles. Sgt. A.J. Kirby works with hundreds of cadets and has an open mind to incorporating new ‘NEXT GENERATION WILDERNESS’ physical activities to the cadet’s already rigorous training programs.

This is where Cliffs of Id comes into the story with their determined focus to create a community of climbers. Johanna and Janice decided that after taking new groups of urban youth to Climb Smart in Joshua Tree National Park year after year, it would be important to provide cadets bouldering lessons before Climb Smart and to provide follow-up bouldering and climbing training after it. Through the years the outdoor youth ambassadors have had clinics with some of the great stone masters such as Lynn Hill and Linh Nguyen. To provide a climbing program for 2017-2018, Cliffs of Id was the perfect gym for cadets to continue bouldering, climbing, and completing Rope Certifications.

LAPD Cadets/MGOYA learn to boulder at Cliffs of Id

As soon as it was established that Medicines Global would take the LAPD Cadets to Climb Smart 2017, Janice introduced Sgt. A.J. Kirby to Remi Moehring, Manager of Cliffs of Id.

“I have reviewed many of MGOYA’s programs that have included several past outdoor adventures with the LAPD,” Sgt. Kirby said. “With extreme budget cuts for youth programs, it is the perfect time to bring innovative community programs such as Medicines Global together with local law enforcement.

Sgt. Kirby added, “The inaugural ‘NEXT GENERATION WILDERNESS’ program at Climb Smart 17 with MGOYA/LAPD Cadets will continue with further Cliffs of Id programs.”

LAPD Cadets/MGOYA learn to boulder at Cliffs of Id

The program was a big hit with the cadets, and many of them were kind enough to offer words of thanks. “Just wanted to give a big thank you for letting us come in and introducing us to bouldering,” said Cadet Stephanie Monroy. “This was a really fun experience. The beauty of it being difficult is that it is a learning experience because I did not give up. At times I wanted to, yet I kept trying. I was able to use strength in me that I never knew I had. I can’t wait to try it once again!”

Cadet Jennifer Santiago was especially grateful to have had a chance to learn climbing at Cliffs of Id before going outside. “Bouldering at Cliffs of Id was a really wonderful experience and it was really helpful for our rock climbing trip to Joshua Tree,” she explained. “I really loved the peace and quiet of Joshua Tree…it was my first camping experience and I loved it.”

Cadets Leslie Mendoza, Jesse Rodriguez, and Nicolas Samayoa agreed. “Rock climbing in Joshua Tree was very challenging,” Mendoza said, “but our lessons at Cliffs of Id gave us a good idea of what to expect and everyone had an amazing time together experiencing nature and the night skies.”

LAPD Cadets/MGOYA at Climb Smart 2017 in Joshua Tree

For Cadet Tatiana Pineda, the experience was a dream come true. “When I was a little child I used to watch movies about climbing and I always wanted to do it. Janice gave me that opportunity by bringing us to Cliffs of Id.”

Tatiana was especially happy to get get a chance to work on developing new skills and self-confidence. “Bouldering at Cliffs of Id and rock climbing in Joshua Tree is a great way for the cadets to show that we are confident and that we work hard every day to be better and stronger. At Cliffs of Id and in Joshua Tree I saw the cadets’ faces when they made their way to the top for the first time. I saw their happiness and surprise that they’d accomplished something they never thought they could have done, especially the shy ones…But they proved to themselves that they can be just as strong as anyone else.”

LAPD Sgt. Kirby with Tim Richards at Climb Smart 2017

The program was not only a success for the participants, but for the folks administering it as well. Sgt. Kirby was pleased by the success of the program and the opportunity to provide new skills through the Rope Certification courses. “Climbing enthusiasm is keen,” he said, “and the love of Joshua Tree National Park has given the cadets an appreciation as the ‘NEXT GENERATION WILDERNESS.'”

Superintendent David Smith of Joshua Tree National Park was also pleased by MGOYA and the Wilshire Cadets. “Park users should resemble the population of America,” he said, “as we are all owners of our national parks. This means bringing a diverse youth population to the national parks. We rely on our non-profit partners to help us do that.”

Mentor/Guide Superintendent David Smith with LAPD Cadets/MGOYA at Climb Smart 2017

As for Johanna Belson of MGOYA, this experience was not only an effective way for cultivating ‘NEXT GENERATION WILDERNESS’ ambassadors, but to also just give kids a chance to get outside. “We want to provide outdoor adventures for as many youth as possible. Hiking, climbing, bouldering, breathing the desert air; it’s all unforgettable and the ripple effect is endless. We are eager for our next outdoor adventures with the LAPD Cadets and are extremely grateful for the fun and super important climbing and bouldering lessons at Cliffs of Id.”

Thank you MGOYA and the Wilshire Division LAPD Cadets!

If you think your nonprofit organization would benefit from climbing with us at Cliffs of Id, get in touch with us at (424) 543-3820