We talked a lot this week about setting goals and trying new things and one of the best examples of this that we can think of is the newest addition to our Athletics line-up, SLOCA’s very own climbing club: the Bouldering Bears.
We have our Director of Community Life, Michael Godsey, joining us again to share his reflections…
Starting from a place of ignorance, I had a lot of questions about rock-climbing this summer: Is it fun? Is it safe? Is it for all ages? Fortunately, it’s this kind of unknowing that can inspire some fruitful wondering. And now, after lots of inspiring conversations with Coach Mark, I can testify to the joy of watching so many kids learn a new skill while learning even more about themselves.
In just one trimester, Coach Mark has now taught at least 500 hours of rock-climbing lessons to over 100 SLOCA students in just the first trimester. In the process, we’ve been able to watch Grizzlies of all ages do their own wondering, in a way that is far more courageous. In addition to asking themselves the same questions (Is it fun? Is it safe? Is it for me?), they had to put their thoughts into action and actually grab the holds.
Some of the lessons are physical. The kids find out which ways their bodies can move, how far they can reach, and how strong they can be. They learn physical limitations, helpful tricks, and athletic moves. They also learn how to fall.
Some of the lessons are mental. The kids strategize their approaches, consider options, and improve their communication skills. They learn how brave they are, how careful they can be, and how long they can hold on. They also learn how to fall.
SLOCA just attended their first-ever climbing competition last month. My daughter Ellie, only 8 years old, was initially daunted by the entire scene, which led to some good talks about anxiety and frustration. Then, over the next two hours, she overcame several obstacles, both mental and physical. She attempted one route at least 20 times but kept running out of energy, climbing back down, or occasionally falling. In the end, though, she scaled the entire 20-foot route and touched the top, all by herself; on the way down, she shouted, “I did it!” We here at SLOCA want every one of our students to experience this kind of feeling.
Meanwhile, SLOCA students in black “Bouldering Bears” shirts could be seen all over the gym, strategizing together, sharing information, motivating each other, and congratulating each other. That was my favorite part, even though we also had a few students “medal” in their age group. I’ve seen a lot in 20 years of coaching different sports, but this new paradigm was impressive to me—I’ve never seen a sport so invested in promoting cooperation, sportsmanship, and character formation. In other words, it seems perfectly suited for SLOCA.
This rock-climbing adventure has been just one more reason for me to feel pride in SLOCA. I’m so inspired by our children’s courageous wonder, and I’m proud of the school for helping foster these character traits. It’s why our family is here, it’s why we’re staying, and it’s why we’re going to keep climbing.
What an exciting time for SLOCA! Thank you for inspiring us and keeping us WONDERing, Mr. Godsey! And thank you, Lindsay Hamill, for the incredible Bouldering Bears’ photos!
For our readers with current students enrolled, you are welcome to reach out to Coach Mark if you are interested in learning more about our Athletics program. Go Grizzlies!!!