When I selected my top five activities for early childhood development, I chose swimming as the number one sport that all children should know because water safety saves lives and that’s something no other sport offers. However, if we were to look at what other sports offer, I believe that rock climbing is a sport that offers many developmental benefits for children. I wanted my children to learn rock climbing not because I used to do it but because I believe that rock climbing can teach a child many valuable lessons.
Although some of these lessons can be learned through other means, I find that people learn best when they discover things on their own and when they learn it through doing something rather than being told it. For example, rock climbing taught me that you don’t have to be “strong” to be able to climb well. Yet, not matter how many times I tell a new rock climber that, I don’t think they really believe me until they learn it for themselves. Of course it helps to be strong, but when you don’t have the strength to make a move that stronger climbers can, you compensate for it by being smart about how you climb. I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage – “the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong”.
The Benefits of Rock Climbing
It helps to develop:
- muscular endurance
- dynamic muscle strength
- mental and physical focus
Rock climbing also teaches children:
Through climbing, children can learn to cope with fear and stress, and develop self-reliance because when you are climbing it is about you and the wall. Through belaying (the action of securing the rope for the climber in the event the climber should fall), children learn about taking responsibility for others.
Rock Climbing Outdoors
If you take your children climbing outdoors, they will also get the chance to develop an appreciation for nature and the great outdoors. In this day and age of concrete jungles and advancing technology, children are starting to lose the feeling of playing outside. More importantly, “a recent study published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology reported that outdoor activity appears to have a protective effect against the development of nearsightedness (myopia) in children“. Although researchers are still uncertain as to why this is so, they postulate that:
- Being outdoors gives children more chances to look at long distances. Animal studies have clearly demonstrated that animals deprived of long distance vistas tend to develop nearsightedness and that myopia can be prevented by providing opportunities to look into the distance.
- Outdoor light intensity causes the pupil to constrict allowing for a larger depth of focus. The range in which objects appear clear is greater and there’s less blurring of images.
- In response to intense light, the retina of the eye releases the neurotransmitter dopamine which inhibits growth (Myopic eyes are longer from front to back than normal eyes). This may mean that the higher intensity light of outdoors actually inhibits the growth of the eye and minimizes the chance of myopia.
Since we’re on the topic of vision and children’s eye care, I thought I should add that the old belief that too much reading causes myopia (short-sightedness) has been proven to be false. In the study, “children with more hours of outdoor activity do not necessarily spend less time reading and using computers.” So even if you decide that rock climbing outdoors is not for your child, it is still advisable to get them out of the house into natural sunlight.
Where to go Rock Climbing in Klang Valley
For indoor rock climbing, there is:
1. Camp5 in 1Utama is one of the more larger and more popular indoor climbing gyms. There you can climb top-rope, lead climb, or boulder. Check out the youtube video below for a tour of the gym.
2. Mad Monkeyz in Wangsa Maju. They offer bouldering only.
4. Shah Alam Extreme Park. This is an artificial outdoor rock climbing wall.
5. Putrajaya Challenge Park. They offer bouldering, top-rope and lead climbing. Check out the youtube video below for a tour of the gym.
For outdoor rock climbing, here is a list of places I climbed at back in my hey-day. A lot has changed since then but I believe many of these places are still available for rock climbing.