One of my favorite things about having kids is finding fun outdoor equipment for them. A Camelbak is cool for adults but when you find a miniature sized one for kids it’s….”Ah cute!” We bought a kids climbing harness about the time when our oldest turned three. I think I like it more than he does. It stabilizes their bodies in an upright position, preventing them from flipping upside down.
I just get so stinking excited when I can have our kids participate in the activities that my husband and I love to do. The people who make these things are genius in my book. What better way to bring a family together!
We set up a top rope climb (the rope is anchored to the top of the climb so if you fall you’re not going anywhere) and let the kids have some fun. We usually don’t need to use a belay device for our youngest because he’s so light. We just do a hip belay (rap the rope around my big bootie). The kids really like the overhang climbs. It allows them to swing more!
We’ve tried to teach them the correct lingo for safety reasons: On belay, climbing, slack, tension, rock! and etc.
Eventually they usually end up saying their own climbing lingo though, things like…”I want to do spinners” or “Where’s the spiderman chalk?”
We’ve taught them the basic rules for safety too:
Mom or Dad must double check harness before you climb
Don’t use your knees
Don’t step on the rope
Don’t put your fingers in the lead climbing bolts
wear a helmet
use your legs (they’re stronger than your arms)
*The key thing I’ve learned while climbing with my kids is not to force them to do anything they don’t want to do. Our oldest began crying on one particular climb because he got up as far as he wanted to go and didn’t want to go any further. We were encouraging him to go a little further because he was so close to the top, but he was definitely scared and ready to come down. We let him know that we just wanted him to have fun and he didn’t have to do anything he didn’t want to. He quickly calmed down and was eager to do it again the next time we went. I think it easily could have turned into a negative situation for him.
*We take small toys with us on our climbing trips. That way whoever isn’t climbing can play with trucks in the dirt or whatever.
*Our second child is 3. He doesn’t necessarily like to climb up but he likes to swing on the rope. He pushes off the rock with his feet and spins and hangs upside down and traverses across the rock wall. As long as he’s having fun that’s fine with me. That’s what Nature For Kids is all about.
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