How Young’s Too Young?

I went up to the climbing wall today with a friends nephew’s to take them climbing, no whilst they weren’t the youngest kids I have ever taken my friends kids were, now after reading some of the responses to the UKC news item about Rock Climbing Related injury research, which I have yet to be able to find the ‘original’ paper to try and critique it. Anyway the youngest report ‘climbing’ accident in the US was 2 years old, which to me suggested the research is flawed as a two year old climbing is just stupid, or is it?

You would have thought by the responses that people thought the actual action of taken a 2 year old climbing was both irresponsible and dangerous, kind of playing with fire whilst juggling glass petrol cans, something dramatic could happen at any moment.

My friends two year old loved the wall, she ‘climbed’ as well, if climbing includes pulling onto a couple of holds and then asking to be lifted off. It is none the less climbing, she wasn’t forced into it she saw and copied, the classic ‘monkey see, monkey do’. Yesterday out on the rescue I was talking to someone whose 8 year old son was climbing at the cheeky monkey summer school at the Beacon Climbing Centre.

So where is the line? To me its about being realistic, I wouldn’t expect a two year old to ‘climb’ but I might expect them to ‘play’ at the wall. Similarly I wouldn’t be surprised if they clambered over rock outside. I would hate to see them forced into it though. I have taught very young kids to climb inside and typically, I have made some very big rope swings for them to get used to the harness and swinging about on the rope.

Now my friends daughter did have an accident at the wall, she was sat on a bench and started to look up at the climbers and over balanced and fell off the bench, with quite a thud followed by the screams of shock rather than pain. She came back into the main wall, and was energetically shouting encouragement at her older cousins. So hopefully she’ll eventually get into climbing, although I am sure she’ll play football, netball, run, skip, cycle, dance, paint, act, sculpt, gymnastic as well.

So whilst she’s too young to become a climber, she not too young to climb and enjoy the climbing wall, albeit under close supervision and for a limited time.

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