My daughter and I found a park in Santa Monica, CA called Tongva Park that has a kids playground complete with splash pad and small boulders to climb right next to rubberized ground like you would find on a professional track.
We were going to play at the park and enjoy the splash pad (hence the bathing suit and rash guard), but once she clambered up on to the rocks I knew it was going to keep her busy for quite a while.
She ended up spending over an hour mastering the activity. She started off very carefully using her hands (at mama’s suggestion) to stay safe and secure until she both grew more comfortable and got better and better at bouldering. It was absolutely fantastic to watch.
Look at her intense focus – you can see her self-confidence developing.
It wasn’t long before she was leaping and climbing like a champ.
What is Bouldering?
Bouldering is climbing without a rope on rocks. For adults and other experienced climbers this usually means large rocks that average 4.5 meters in height. Crash pads are placed at the bottom of these large boulders so climbers have a soft place to land if they fall.
I am not asking you to do this with your kids unless you and they have the experience to do so. I am asking you to consider finding a beginner (baby boulder) option like we found. You can find some suggestions in “How to Find Places to go Bouldering” below.
Benefits of Bouldering
Bouldering is a fantastic physical skill that helps develop strength, balance, flexibility, and self-esteem. See the following articles for much more information:
- How Rock Climbing Does Your Mind — And Body — Good by Abigail Wise on Huff Post Healthy Living
- 11 Awesome Benefits of Rock Climbing – And 1 very Important One from Transcend Your Limits
Get Outside & Connect Activity Week #30 – Go Bouldering
This was the first time that my daughter attempted baby bouldering. I call it baby bouldering because the boulders were very small compared to what most would consider bouldering. However, she has had lot’s of practice with tree walking so she was ready for this activity. She in fact choose it herself, which is usually an indication of readiness. Please make sure your children are ready and willing participants before offering this activity.
Look at my almost 3 year old scrambler go! I have to admit I was a proud mama. 🙂
Even though the boulders themselves were small I made sure she was safe and felt comfortable knowing the ground below was rubberized. You can bring your own crash pads to an area to make everyone feel safer. Another option is to allow your child to practice while holding your hand or being supported by you in some way so that you both feel comfortable giving it a go.
For more information about Get Outside & Connect click on the link.
Benefits of Risky Play
Bouldering can be dangerous, but there are many benefits to children that engage in risky play. With that said please don’t allow your children to do anything that you don’t feel comfortable allowing them to do. Or make them do anything that they are not comfortable with.
Taking risks in play is essential for children’s growth and development. Check out the following articles for more information on the benefits of risky play:
- Risky Play: Why Children Love It and Need It by Peter Gray, Ph.D on Psychology Today
- Outdoor Risky Play for All from Outdoor Learning in the Early Years
- The Benefits of Risky Play by Kenneth S Kutska, CPSI on Playground Professionals
- Risky Play Prepares Kids for Life by Adrian Voce on The Guardian
How to Find Places to go Bouldering
- Start by learning at an indoor rock gym before you take it outside. Ask about beginner local bouldering spots while there.
- Look for a modern green space park like we did at Tongva Park in Santa Monica, CA with small boulders available for bouldering.
- Purchase a guidebook for the closest outdoor bouldering area.
- Go to rockclimbing.com and click on “Routes” — Look for beginner-grade climbs.
Bouldering is a risky play activity that develops physical strength and flexibility, mental focus, and self-confidence. If you choose to engage in this activity please take necessary safety precautions and make sure your children are ready and willing participants.
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