5,000 square feet of climbing terrain, 53 ropes and 6 excited youths…BC Buddies’ first field trip took participants to new heights. A rock climbing activity was chosen as we wanted to challenge the youth in trying something new, exciting, and slightly daunting. This activity provided learning opportunities on advocating for accommodation and testing your physical and mental stamina.
At first there were a few nervous grins as the students’ eyes crawled up the 30 feet walls. The first lesson of the day was advocating for accommodation to ensure climbing was safe, fun and enjoyable. During the safety debrief, we mentioned it would be hard to hear the belayers (the climbing guides on the ground controlling the ropes) if they were to give us instructions on the ground while we were up in the air. Thus, it was decided that instead of the belayer saying “belay on” (indicating it is safe for us to climb) we would hold a thumbs up sign to indicate we were ready to climb. Likewise, instead of the belayer yelling “lowering” when they were ready to lower us, we would indicate a thumbs down sign. Using these hand gestures to replace verbal cues were critical as the rocking climbing venue was buzzing with over 50 people in the gym.
The second lesson was learning to test your physical and mental stamina. After one run up the wall the students quickly started to feel fatigued. Rock climbing will test your muscles that you normally do not use on a daily basis. The participants had to learn when to take breaks in order to pace themselves for the full two hours while also challenging their limits. At first the youth would make it a quarter up the wall but as time went on, everyone inched closer and closer to the top. It was inspiring to see that this drive to conquer the walls was self-initiated by the students – they kept going back to the challenging walls. This skill, of pursuing a difficult task, relates to problem solving in the real world in learning to be resilient in the face of personal challenges. Deaf and Hard of Hearing Individuals will face many challenges and it is important that one does not back down, but instead rise to the challenge.
BC Buddies would like to thank our volunteer, Tori, and the climbing guides at Cliffhangers who showed great patience and encouragement. Stay tuned for upcoming BC Buddies events in the Spring!
Written by Allison Lui