Last night our student ministry kicked off our “Summer Nights” 2-day event by taking the middle schoolers to “The Crag” – a local indoor rock climbing gym.  I used to rock climb quite a bit (as in, 15 years ago I went somewhat frequently), but it had been quite a while since I strapped into a harness and scaled the walls.  I expected to be sore the next morning (which I am) and to thoroughly enjoy it (which I did).  What I didn’t expect was how some of the students stepped up in the face of a good challenge.

Since I had experience, I was one of the belayers – a person with a special tool to keep the rope slack down so students could climb without fear.  Most of the students wanted to climb the walls with the “auto-belay” system, which eliminated the need for 2 people.  A few of the students got brave, however, and took their chances.

Here were a group of students – most of them around 14 years old – that were completely OK trusting their lives with someone else.  And they didn’t hesitate – as soon as we gave the word (“Climb On!”) they started scurrying up the wall.  They were mice after the last slice of cheese, and nothing would come between them and their goal.

Once they reached the top (“Take!”), we’d reel in the rope (“Gotcha!”) and they’d float gently to the ground, their full weight being balanced by the belayer and a few pieces of special equipment.

I saw something amazing happen.  I saw our students – kids whom I’ve known for a while – push themselves to the point of sore arms and tired fingers just to see how far they could go.  A few of them even “bouldered” – climbing special walls with no harnesses or ropes – and I was even more amazed at just how they kept going and going.

There’s nothing really quite like seeing a group of students push themselves like that.

If you have a nearby rock climbing gym, it’s a fantastic way to burn off some energy.  The local gym here (the Crag) was extremely patient as the students scaled wall after wall in their quest for the top.

And make sure to stop at the top to take a photo.  If you can make it to the top of the walls, the view’s pretty amazing.

Rock Climbing

My selfie from the top of the Crag’s “medium difficulty” wall