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April 12, 2016 by
Jay Medley
Stumped for an activity that your church youth group, sports team, scout troop, or class will enjoy? It’s tough to be the leader of a youth group, finding activities that will be seen as cool by the kids and wholesome by the parents. Plus, the outings should have a purpose, right?

Whether it’s building a stronger team mentality or developing new skills, it’s good to have a take-away lesson from an activity (and maybe one that isn’t so heavy-handed that the kids will even notice they’ve learned something.) Luckily, rock climbing checks all of the boxes on this list: it’s cool for kids and teens, wholesome for the parents, and on top of being great exercise, will also teach kids to come together as a team, solve problems, and build confidence.

It’s Cool

Kids and teens may not have been rock climbing before, but they’ve likely seen it in movies and on TV shows. Rock climbing just looks cool and will leave them with a great story to tell. They’ll boost their confidence as they climb walls they never thought they could, making themselves feel cooler, too.

Your group could stage anything from a two-hour safety and climbing lesson to an overnight lock-in. Climbing walls all night will sound like fun to any kid.

It’s Wholesome

Parents will be relieved to realize that their kids are engaging in an activity that will challenge them physically and mentally. This isn’t a sugar-fueled trip to an arcade; kids will be entertained without screens, just by the activity and each other. Plus, they’ll learn some new skills.

Builds a Stronger Team

Rock climbing fosters a team-like environment even though it initially looks like a solitary sport. There’s a lot of communication, teamwork, and support between the climber and belayer (if those in your group are over 14, they may be trained to belay each other, depending on your gym.)

Climbers and belayers will learn to trust each other to communicate their intentions, and the climber will trust the belayer to catch her if she falls. Plus, those on the ground waiting their turn often shout words of encouragement to climbers on the wall, or may help by suggesting how the climber might reach the next hold if she’s stuck.

Your rock climbing activities can be structured to bring a team closer together, whether it’s letting a new group get to know each other or getting everyone back on the same page. Activities during the event can include skills like goal-setting, timed races, and problem-solving exercises.

What if one teammate is blindfolded and another had to give her verbal directions for where to find her next hold on the wall? They would build communication and cooperation skills while having a great time.

Develop Skills

Sure, climbers will learn skills like how to tie the knots that will keep their ropes attached to their harness, but they can learn so much more that will be more applicable to every day life. They may set goals during the event, so they’ll learn about goals and achievements. Climbers need to have problem-solving skills to figure out how they will get to the next hold that can seem out of reach.

They’ll become more aware of their bodies and their abilities. Plus, as mentioned above, they will have to communicate with their belayer, so they will learn how important it is to make your intentions and needs known to others.

Whether you need to bring a team together or just give them a night out, rock climbing may be the right activity for your group. Most gyms offer everything from a few hours of climbing to an overnight lock-in, so talk to your local gym about package options. Your group will never forget it!

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