REXBURG – Courageous Kids Climbing visited the Rock Gym in Rexburg on Monday for an afternoon of climbing fun for kids with special developmental and physical needs.
The event gave the kids a chance to challenge themselves, build courage, and discover abilities they might not previously know they possessed. Courageous Kids provided special equipment and assistance and The Rock Gym provided the climbing walls for free.
“It started as rock climbing was a fun event,” Jeff Riechmann, executive director of Courageous Kids, told EastIdahoNews.com. “But it is now also a therapeutic event. We find with some of the children with some of the intellectual challenges, the event helps them with their concentration skills. This helps them with their problem solving skills. He gets to work with their coordination: hand / eye, hand / foot, right side / left side. He is a confident builder and with many children it decreases their fear of heights.
The Rock Gym was thrilled to host the Courageous Kids event and to be part of the process of developing and acquiring new skills for these children. The event required special preparation measures to ensure the safety of the children and have a good time.
“This is our first event of its kind,” said Logan Hulstine, Rock Gym employee. “As for the special preparation for this, (Riechmann) came up with a lot of extra material. We have implemented a pulley system for anyone unable to climb and just wanting to reach the top. Riechmann and his accord are the only organization that allows anyone to get to the top of the wall with this system.
Hulstine says there is a noticeable difference in children between when they first arrive at the event and when they leave.
“It’s kind of an exponential increase in excitement,” he said. “They come in and sometimes they’re excited, buzzing, or they’re really nervous. Once you’ve put on their harnesses and shoes, warm up a bit. At the end of time, they have fun and aren’t even afraid anymore.
It’s a process that Reena Lyon saw her daughter, Izzy, go through during the event.
“I think (Izzy) was excited,” Lyon said. “I think she was a little nervous too. I think it has been a positive experience overall. She was nervous, she got over that nervousness and she managed a climb, even though she was four feet off the ground. It’s a victory for me.
“I think the next time it’s time to try something new I can look back and say ‘Hey you remember when we went climbing and you were nervous and you did when even and you survived? Now we can try this other novelty and you will survive it too, ”she added.
The event was also a success for Tyler Durfee, who participated in the rock climbing. As an avid climber who hadn’t climbed for quite some time, he enjoyed the chance to climb some walls.
“I haven’t climbed for a while,” he says. “I loved climbing when I was younger. I was in a bit of shape and had a harder time climbing because I couldn’t climb to the ceiling like I did when I was a kid. So I wasn’t that excited, but when I got here my hopes were high and it was so amazing.
Durfee said rock climbing sharpens many skills that people who don’t participate in the sport might not guess involved, including the ability to strategize for your next move.
“Think of it like chess,” he says. “I’m going to move this and then I’m going to move this here and then I’m going to move this here.” So maybe there’s a really tough point you need to get to, then you’re going to move your right foot and then you’re going to stand on your left foot and grab the big right boulder.
Residents of eastern Idaho who want to boost their strategy skills can contact the Rock Gym or other local climbing sites. They can also look forward to other Courageous Kids Climbing events later this year, one of which will take place in Driggs on October 23. Efforts are also underway to organize another event in Pocatello this fall. Visit the Courageous children climbing Facebook page to stay up to date.