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I recently read about a Troop that has its own climbing wall. I thought this would be something to consider. In our area there are no commercial climbing facilities.


Do any of you have your own climbing wall? What are the pros\cons?






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The building where we meet (which was built with our input) has a large brick chimney, maybe eight feet wide, on the exterior of the building. The things that hold in climbing rocks are embedded in the wall and there is a mechanism for attaching ropes for belaying at the top (can't be more specific, I've never been up there.) A few times a year, a meeting will feature or include climbing the wall, and the rocks are attached for those meetings. Usually we have at least 1 climbing trip a year in the NC mountains. (Our leaders have extensive climbing experience and all the needed equipment.)

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The first Troop we were with had its own portable climbing tower.

It consisted of 3 levels of construction scaffolding covered with plywood with holds either cut into the wood or fastened to it.

The narrow ends had 2 sheets of 4x 8 plywood that mounted the long way which almost came to the top making it just over 16 tall.

The long ends were covered with 4 sheets each.

This allowed 4 Scouts, one each side and ends, to be on the wall at the same time.


At one time it was used a lot, but now due to the liability issues and the availability of local climbing center they only set it up every 3 years at the Council Camp-O-Ree.


The cons to owning this outweighed the pros.



They could climb when ever they wanted.



It took most of a Saturday morning to set it up if the Troop was going to use it for a meeting (and another meeting to take it down).

For the council camporee a group of Scouts and l2 leaders need to go up a day early to set it up.


It took at least 3 pickup truck loads or a large truck to move it.


The troop had a leader (even after his son was no longer in the Troop) allow them to store it at his business as it was to big to store in the Troop Room at the CO.


If it got set up to use for a troop meeting it needed to be some where out of the way or behind a fence so people couldnt climb it when no one was around.


Good climbing rope is expensive and it became costly to maintain and replace ropes when used often, along with the cost of helmets and harnesses.


The Troop also had a long-term ASM of 30+ years who at one time was a climbing instructor who had completed the required training that allowed them to use the tower.







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  • 3 months later...

I think that the pros for climbing far outweigh the cons. Sure, climbing equipment is expensive. For the two Crews that I work with, we have a pool of Crew equipment, including helmets and harnesses, and as we have a few climbers to help also a pool of private equipment which we use when we go to real climbing areas. I feel these are superior to any indoor gym, and usually as they are state or federally owned - well that means it is YOUR land.


Now before you book types get all excited, remember that the stringent rules BSA has apply to established climbing towers and generally for BSA camps. Individual outfits on outings to real rock climbing areas basically use industry standard (by no means less stringent, but more applicable) rules for climbing.


For my Troop, we would introduce the new 11 yr olds directly to climbing. These kids had no problems with learning knots, and were enthralled with the practice and preperation with real gear. As they progressed through more difficult top roped climbs, they were completely hooked. Mountaineering, caving, and backpacking followed with not problems. Retention was never a problem.


The big requirement is the experience of the adult leaders. What you really need are actual climbers, who climb for their own enjoyment. Though the BSA provides some instruction, including a climbing instructor course, these are nothing more than introductions to running a safe and successful climbing trip for your unit. I know, I teach them. After you cycle your adults through this, have them follow up by either helping to teach that course, or better to go climbing themselves (not with the kids) with more experienced climbers. Learning from a commercial or non-BSA course is also recommended, as the BSA courses in my view tend to lag behind the commercial ones.


The bottom line is that kids this age love and treasure adventure. That is the reason they join the Scouts. This same technique of teaching technical trip oriented skills works with rafting, canoeing, backpacking and many other skills. Don't waste your time with car camping or Scout camps (except to advance through rank). Throw away your chuck boxes and do real adventure! But as adults - you learn it first, or get someone with real experience who can teach it for you.



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