Kids and teachers can agree — two of the least favourite words you’ll hear in an elementary school are: Indoor. Recess.
Our harsh Saskatchewan climate and risk of frostbite mean that students will spend dozens of recesses indoors throughout the winter. Board games, computer labs and gym games can only go so far before kids are yearning for self-directed play that challenges both the body and mind.
Enter rock climbing. The world’s newest Olympic sport requires strength, creativity and determination. It is a puzzle, a full-body workout and a way to challenge yourself. We talked to competitive athlete, instructor and all-around climbing ambassador Jason Holowach about the sport and why it’s a great addition to elementary school phys ed programs.
“People enjoy the problem-solving aspect of climbing, along with the physical side,” said Holowach. “You might get bored of the same gym routine, but there is always a different route or a different movement to try on a climbing wall.”
Holowach’s Saskatoon climbing gym, Grip It Climbing, turned nine this past fall. Over the years, the climbing landscape in Saskatchewan has evolved from a niche activity to a mainstream, all-ages and all abilities sport. Beginners can start on the easiest paths, making it a very accessible activity. There is usually a progression; people are naturally competitive and once they’ve conquered a problem, they want to move onto something that’s more of a challenge.
Grip It offers recreational classes for (almost) all ages; their six-and-under recreational class has had participants as young as two, and their oldest athletes can order from the senior’s menu. ? Their recreation classes run for eight weeks and climbers of any skill level can benefit from the group learning environment. Instructors walk the group through beginning techniques and safety considerations before help them reach new levels.
So, what’s the number one comment from new climbers? Hands down, the most common comment is: ‘Wow, that is really hard!’ “Experienced climbers make it look easy, and so people often can’t get over how challenging the sport is,” said Holowach.
While not every town has a great climbing gym like Grip It, communities can bring this interesting and challenging sport to their kids through smaller installations.
Venture Heights Elementary School in Warman commissioned us to install an eight-foot climbing wall in their gym this past spring. They were looking to add some variety to their physical education program, and a new wall fit the bill.
A small climbing wall is a great challenge for elementary school-aged children. Safety requirements call for gym mats, so no belay equipment or rope systems are needed. These walls can be easily retrofitted into an existing gym, adding serious play value and taking virtually no floor space.
Ask us for a quote on your new indoor climbing installation! At 1 Stop Playgrounds we have been helping to build strong communities since 2010. We provide recreation solutions like climbing walls, cross-ice rink dividers as well as turnkey playgrounds and splash park design and installation.