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Joyce Endee

The Boys and Girls Club Goes Rock Climbing with White Mountain School

(From left to right) Amy Bannon belaying Ellie Maccini and Payge Emmerson belaying Merrick Maccini Photo by Abbie Keeler. (click for larger version)
May 09, 2014
BETHLEHEM—On Thursday, May 1 a few kids from the Boys and Girls club in Lisbon teamed up with students from the White Mountain School in Bethlehem to go rock climbing. However, they learned a lot more than how to climb.

Brian Tracy, a motivational speaker, once said, "Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new."

When the kids from the Boys and Girls club walked into the gym at the White Mountain School they were obviously uncomfortable. They had no idea what to expect. Some clung to their club counselor like it was their first day of a new school and were nervous to let go. One of the student volunteers, Payge Emmerson, helped them feel more at ease by explaining what they were going to do and how things were going to play out. They all entered and saw a basketball court. There was a tarp running from the ceiling to the floor, separating them from the other half of the building. Tomas Vaic and Harris Rothman, two other students from White Mountain, started the time off by playing a name game; in order to get to know the kids, but also to help them all feel more comfortable. Still feeling a bit timid, each of the kids would say their name and then jump in the back of the line, go up to the next person and get them to say their name. Some of them even forgot their own names, which made it even more fun for them and they were able to laugh at themselves. This moment seemed to break the ice for the kids and they all loosened up and were able to not only joke around and have fun together, but also with the staff. The wall-to-wall tarp was pulled away and revealed a huge rock climbing wall. Before the kids could begin to climb, Amy Bannon had to explain the terminology and safety rules first.

Once the kids knew what to do, they were able to either free climb, with someone to spot them, or they could belay. In order to safely free climb one child had to be the spotter. Meaning, one would stand underneath his or her partner as the other one climbed. Every single child did an amazing job spotting, but also finding their way up the wall and pushing themselves to do better than what they thought they could.

The student volunteers and their leader, Ted Teegarden, from the White Mountain School did a wonderful job teaching this group of kids how to climb. And perhaps unintentionally, they also taught the kids how to keep pushing on. A few times kids would say they couldn't go any farther, and the staff was nothing but supportive. They didn't pressure the boys and girls to go higher, but they did encourage them to do the best they could. One boy named James Maciver has a fear of heights, but he was encouraged by others, and pushed himself to overcome his fear. James said, "I have a fear of heights, but that is part of why I wanted to come. So I could get over it."

Teegarden spoke about the program he has been teaching. It is called Outdoor Education and Leadership. He said, "As part of the curriculum students are able to put to use the leadership theory learned in the beginning of the course in a practical experience facilitating The Boys and Girls Club. It has been a wonderful experience for my students and they really gain a lot from each program." It was clear that all the kids from the Boys and Girls Club had a blast with the students from the White Mountain School! On top of learning how to climb, the kids were shown how to work hard, and how to work as a team.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
Garnett HIll
Varney Smith
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