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Hang Time: Go Rock Climbing With Your Kids


Rock climbing may seem out of reach (literally) and intimidating for a family outing, but my kids and I love it. It’s been rewarding to see them master the basic skills and scramble up a wall ahead of me. And it’s an easy activity to build a day or weekend trip around or to get you out and exploring places you otherwise might not on longer vacations. With with opportunities to rock climb popping up every week, or so it seems, here are some easy ways to take the first step and learn the ropes.

rock climbing on a cruise shipStart Indoors

First, take a few hours and check out your local rock gym. There’s at least one in every major city (and most minor ones). They have beginner classes and instructors to get you off the ground.

A few my favorites are Earth Treks with three locations around Washington, DC; MetroRock with two locations in Boston; and Rockreation with gyms in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and Costa Mesa, CA.

Don’t worry about gear. Climbing gyms all have shoes, ropes and carabiners you can borrow or rent (and buy if you get hooked). Just wear comfortable clothes and be ready for some fun.

Editor’s Note: Climbing gyms are sprouting up all over these days. Some have after school programs and camps as well as parent-child climbing classes. Here is a list of climbing gyms across the U.S. and Canada. Tiny Traveler and her dad use Brooklyn Boulders, which has four gyms in and beyond New York City. and we are dying to try the new outdoor climbing space the Cliffs Set up on the Brooklyn waterfront this summer.

Cruise ships and even some resorts increasing have rock-climbing facilities, which is an incredibly easy way to give it a try and see whether you want to pursue it more.

Head Outside With Help

Outdoor rock climbing is where my kids and I have really gotten to share unique experiences.

rock climbing challenges kidsTo be on the safe side, hire a guide for your first outing (any time you’re climbing someplace new).  Here a few suggestions. Near New York City you can hit the “Gunks” as the Shawangunk cliffs are commonly referred, to with Alpine Endeavors. Owner and lead guide Marty Molitoris has literally written the book on climbing in the surrounding area.  Yosemite Mountaineering  in California can give you taste of granite on the famed walls of Yosemite. They have introductory classes. But if you’ve climbed before and have a vacation budget as large as the shear 2,800 foot wall of El Capitan, they’ll take you up it for a cool $4,466 ($1.60 a foot!).  Outdoor gear retailer REI’s outdoor school offers climbing classes, including a family introduction class, in 14 cities across the US.

The Best Part

Keep in mind, your kids can’t bury their noses in video games and you can’t text the office when you’re rappelling down a rock wall, 50-feet above the ground. So if you’re looking for a hint of adventure on your next outing or just want the chance to “hang out” and connect with your kids, give rock climbing a try. It’s easier and closer than you think.

Pin it for later!

Rock climbing is a different way for dads to get outside with their kids. You can learn close to home, inside, and then add a unique experience to your next vacation.

Eric Cohen is the Chief Dad at Macaroni Kid, llc, the leading platform for local news for kids events and activities. He is a serial entrepreneur, family man, skier and rock climber. You can find him @macaronidad




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2 Comments

  1. Erin Patrick
    June 14, 2012 at 9:57 am — Reply

    Our family loves rock climbing. We have a couple of rock climbing gyms in our area that we like to visit! Thanks for sharing.
    ~Erin

    • June 15, 2012 at 10:19 am — Reply

      Kids are kind of naturals at it, aren’t they?

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