My old-time friends would probably know that I used to spend hours on rock walls, especially on bouldering walls. I spent a good part of my JC and university days rock climbing with friends after school.
I told myself that I will continue with the sport when my kids are older, and I will bring them to climb with me. So whenever we pass by a climbing wall, especially in the playground, we will stop by for a quick boulder. This way, they get acquainted with the sport.
There is a particular indoor rock climbing gym known as Onsight Climbing Gym located along Guilemard Road which I have always wanted my kids to experience. Each time we drop by the Korean BBQ restaurant next door (Ju Shin Jung), I would drag them into the gym to sound out their interest level. Finally, they have grown old enough and Onsight has kindly arranged a Family Climb for us to experience.
Onsight Climbing Gym
Onsight Climbing Gym is Singapore’s biggest indoor climbing gym. Spanned over 10,000 sq ft, the gym hosts 2000 sq ft of bouldering surface, 43 lanes with over 100 routes and a 15m speed climbing wall.
Introducing Rock Climbing to our Little Ones
The gym arranged a 2-hours Family Climb program for the 4 of us (my 2 kids, nephew and myself). Minimum age to attend the program is 5 years old. 2 instructors were assigned to facilitate the program.
The instructors started off by introducing the harness and climbing rules to the kids. Both instructors were young but mature. Safety is their top priority and second is the kids’ sense of security. I am certainly impressed by their ability to communicate with the little ones, aged 6 to 7 years old. The children understood the safety rules well and couldn’t wait to start their adventure.Because the children are rather young, the instructors set achievable targets for them, starting from targets at 3 meters high, and gradually higher after assessing their fitness level and response towards height.We were introduced to 3 different types of wall, namely the 9-metre beginner wall, the 14-metre graded walls which provide routes with varying difficulty level, as well as a boulder wall for beginners.
There were many more walls which were occupied by seasoned climbers.
The children were jubilant and requested to climb there again soon! Indeed, many seasoned climbers bring their children to the gym as part of their regular family program. Thus it is quite common to see children on the walls on weekends.
The instructors recommended the children to return for top-rope climbing, rather than for boulder. This is because top-rope climbing is less strenuous for the kids since they can rest halfway with the belayer supporting them below. The element of height would also mean more challenges and train them to overcome fear.
For this, we can either hire a belayer for 2 hours or I can belay them myself. All I need is to complete a 7-hour Sport Climbing Level 1 program to learn the belaying technique. My last belay was 10 over years ago and I wouldn’t want to risk my kids’ lives with my rusty belaying knowledge.
Rock Climbing is beneficial for kids because…
Rock climbing brings a number of benefits to children, physically and mentally.
Needless to say, frequent climbing helps children build strong limbs. Do you know climbing also build strong core muscles that help children sit better in class and improve their ability to focus? I remember an article I read years ago on why kids fidget. The writer encouraged children to move around more so that they fidget less and stay focus in class.
Children these days do a lot more deskbound work and play. With lesser time spent on running around and physical play, it is possible that they have an underdeveloped vestibular system.
Other than our 5 senses, we all have another special sense supported by our vestibular system to give us balance and alignment. Without a healthy vestibular system, a child may move in an uncoordinated, clumsy manner, bumping into things, falling. He or she may not be able to fully walk or sit in an upright manner. He or she may also slouch at the desk or while standing, thus appearing weak or floppy. With a strong vestibular system, the child may sit longer and may not tire out easily. Read here for expert’s comments.
Thus I believe climbing, which trains up a person’s core strength, sense of alignment and balancing, can possibly help a child to stay focus and alert in class.
Climbing is scary, especially when it involves height. Climbing is tiring, we use almost every single muscle in our body to tackle a difficult route.
But confronting the challenges in climbing builds a person’s character. Climbing will help children face fear and literally think on their feet for their next move or otherwise risk falling. Repeated attempts help them face their fears, build perseverance and mental strength. Climbing in a group, which is required for top-rope and lead-climbing, build patience, humility and team spirit.
These are just my personal opinions which I gathered from my past climbing experience. Not all parents will agree with me for their own reasons, such as safety consideration. But as a matter of fact, indoor top-rope climbing is relatively safe as long as the gym maintains the equipment well and the belayer is mature and trained.
If you are keen to let your child/children try rock-climbing, you can visit Onsight Climbing Gym. They are located at 100 Guillemard Road, Singapore 399718 (Old Singapore Badminton Hall).
To join an introductory class like the one we tried, do give them a call at 65 6348 8272 to book them in advance.
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