Outreach: Community Service
- Published: Monday, 04 August 2014 18:28
Summertime means many things. If you're used to climbing at Mission Cliffs, it might means stocking up on puffy jackets and trying to remember what blue sky looks like. But for Diablo Rock Gym members in Concord, it means sweltering temps and an living life from one air conditioned room to the next.
Diablo Rock Gym, which is blessed with air conditioning, is a great place to beat the summer heat. We end up hosting a handful of summer camps that are looking for a cool place to hang out. (Get it? Cool?!)
In June we hosted 38 young climbers from Pinole City Summer Camp. Pinole City offers a variety of camps where elementary age and middle school youth enjoy safe, supervised fun at the Pinole Youth Center. They focus on homework help, arts, sports, cooking, computer access, games, workshops, and youth leadership.
But sometimes, they get to leave the Youth center and come climbing! When the group first entered the building, they were dumbstruck. With necks craned backwards and fingers raised, they oo'd and ahh'd over our 40 ft climbing walls. "Are we going to get to CLIMB that?!" said one girl incredulously. "You sure are!" said DRG staffer and coach Michael P. Hershburger. "I wonder who will be able to climb highest?" To which the whole group collectively broke into yelps of 'Me! Me! Me!'
The kids separated into teams and divided up among the belay staff. Each were tied in with a figure-eight and started climbing! Their fellow campers cheered each climber on as they pushed their physical and mental limits. Each climber reached a different point on the wall, but every time a climber was lowered back to the ground the reaction was always the same. "This is my most favorite place EVER," gasped one boy. "Can we come here again tomorrow?!" said another.
They've been looking forward to this all week," said one of the counselors. "Climbing at DRG is definitely a highpoint. In fact.. mind if we try it out..?" Once the campers saw their counselors struggling up the same section of wall, they really lost it. "It was hard for both of us! I can't wait to come back and climb more!" said one girl.
Among the belayers for the group was none other than speed record holder and gym manager Hans Florine. "This is one of my favorite parts of the job," said Hans, as he happily belayed child after child. "I am constantly pleasantly surprised at the number of community members who bring in groups into Diablo Rock Gym. The energy people here put into introducing folks to climbing is so energizing. You know they love climbing so much they want to share it with others." Hans might be a world famous climber, but to the kids of Pinole Summer Camp, he was just another encouraging voice from far below.