It was almost two years to the day since the first youth bouldering competition was hosted at West Kings District High School in Auburn, NS. In those two short years we have seen a new wall built (at NKEC in Canning), two extensions built to the existing wall at West Kings, new holds and volumes purchased, the creation of sustainable and successful after school climbing clubs, and immersion of climbing curriculum into the school physical education classes.
The scene at the wall on Sunday 11th January 2015 marked one of stark contrast from 2013. A veteran group of organizers, seasoned by many hours of running these competitions, now sat back in relative calm and with immense pride as the kids crushed their problems left right and center. Seeing this small community climbing club grow is proof that the youth really are the future, both literally and figuratively. Funded by Canning & Kings County Recreation, the after school climbing clubs are co-led by the young climbers who have come through the programs themselves. They are now coaching and inspiring their peers and, in one case, even getting a job at the local climbing gym.
Setting for the competitions always starts early the day before, and usually runs very (very, very, very….) late into the evening. This is not because the setters are slow; it is because, unlike setting for a commercial gym environment, they focus on creating problems that are going to be climbed for whole semesters and by a wide range of ability levels. Most importantly, they need to focus on problems that can inspire, challenge and maintain interest. Competition day is now fairly routine. By now the kids know the drill, they’re excited rather than nervous, and we now have to break the socializing in order to get started! Unlike most competitive sports, the youth all help one another to do the best they can, and anyone new to the sport is automatically spotted and given beta on problems by the more experienced kids. It really is a phenomenal atmosphere that never ceases to inspire us.
From the nine youth that competed in the first competition, the valley circuits now draw up to twenty-five youngsters from Halifax to Annapolis Royal. It has become an event that is almost as highly anticipated by the parents as it is the kids. Let’s not forget that without them it would be a heck of a walk from HRM! Its fair to say that climbing has gripped an ever-growing generation of truly inspiring, grounded and humble young athletes.
The next event is tentatively planned for April of this year, so keep an ear to the ground! Its still important to mention that these events would not be possible without the hard work and continued commitment from volunteers, sponsors, parents, and of course the kids!
Thanks to Climb Nova Scotia, The Trail Shop, Canning & Kings County Recreation, Annapolis Valley Climbing Club, Jedi Richardson, Heather B, Bekah Reagan, Adam Conner, Derrick Smith and guest setters Kyle & Mike.