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April 6, 2016 by
Jay Medley
When you host a child’s birthday party, it can feel like the children are climbing the walls. But, what if you could actually let them climb the walls instead with a rock climbing birthday party?

Many rock climbing gyms offer rock climbing birthday party options, which means that you don’t have to let those little bundles of energy run around your house as you try desperately to entertain them with musical chairs or whatever the hip kids are doing these days.

Rock climbing offers an original, entertaining party that kids will remember. I should know, I still remember the first rock climbing birthday party I attended nearly two decades ago.

A friend of mine in middle school held her birthday party at a rock climbing gym and I still remember it now, seventeen years later, though I can’t remember most other parties.

It was my first rock climbing experience, though not my last. I can affirm that rock climbing, even in one birthday party, can boost a child’s confidence, burn a LOT of energy, teach them new skills, and give them memories for a lifetime.

As a scrawny thirteen-year-old with very little athletic ability, rock climbing wasn’t on my radar. I also have a fear of falling, but my fears went away during the safety lesson before our climbing started.

Our instructor got us all into our harnesses, taught us to tie the knots that would keep our harnesses and ropes attached, then checked our knots for safety. He explained how we would be supported and that he and the other belayers would not let us fall. I learned a lot about trust that day.

Turns out, they also wouldn’t let us fail. The instructor and belayers gave us advice on which holds we could grab next, giving us encouragement on the way up. Suddenly, this little thirteen-year-old had scaled a wall.

As I looked down at my friends, my belayer, my instructor, and the whole rock climbing gym, it dawned on me that I had climbed a wall. I was finally cool and strong to my own harshest critic, myself (isn’t every thirteen-year-old their own worst enemy?)

During my rock climbing birthday party, we all climbed many beginner walls that day, chosen by our instructor so we would stay within our limits and not get discouraged. My friends and I bonded in a new way, one of encouragement and teamwork as we all learned something new about ourselves and our abilities.

I learned that my favorite part was rappelling back down, bouncing off the wall as I went, full of a sense of accomplishment and pride. I also learned that I really enjoyed rock climbing and I jumped at chances to go again with other groups and in high school gym class afterward.

Let’s not kid ourselves, an out-of-shape beginner doesn’t spend an afternoon climbing with no after-effects. I was really sore the next day, even after soaking in a hot bath, but it was the pain of accomplishment. My muscles were screaming because they had been used for something good and I knew it.

The other after-effect was confidence. I realized that if I could climb a wall, there were likely other things I could do that I just hadn’t tried yet. No other birthday party game ever stuck with me like that (though I was always too polite to get very far in musical chairs.)

So while you’re planning your child’s next birthday party, consider giving them memories and lessons that will last long after the celebration ends.

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