There are many ways for a young person to start climbing, hill walking or mountaineering.
Traditionally many young people have started climbing, hill walking or mountaineering within the family or with a friend of the family. It is not unknown, for instance, for a parent to take up one of these activities because their child has, or children have, expresed an interest. However, if that avenue is not available there are a numbers of others that are and some of these are discussed below.
Local climbing walls
Many climbing walls offer introductory and progressive classes at the weekend and on weekday evenings for under18 year olds with some walls offering sessions suitable for 4 year olds. The sessions are led by qualified instructors, and most walls will hire out equipment such as harnesses or rock shoes. For those who wish to there will often the chance to enter competitions or to proress through the National Indoor Climbing Award Scheme (NICAS) or National Indoor Bouldering Award Scheme (NIBAS). They're also a great place to meet friends and other parents. Check for a wall near you.
Offer grounding courses and taster sessions in many types of outdoor pursuits that could give U18's the skills to enable them to climb independently. Look for the many adverts in the back of climbing or walking magazines or search on-line. Some centres will offer family sessions too.
BMC Affiliated Clubs
Each BMC Affiliated Club has its own constitution and 'rules' for accepting young members. Around 50% of BMC club responses received to our questionnaire do accept young climbers. Some stipulate that parents must be club members or only accept 16-18 year olds. Some clubs will require that you have prior experience of hill walking or climbing, others will be happy for you to join with nothing more that enthusiasm to learn. Young people are often taken out by experienced and competent but not necessarily qualified club members. Normally a parental visit to the club will be necessary and attendance at one or several meets.
An increasing number of schools have a climbing or bouldering wall on site and are able to offer climbing training to pupils. Many schools still offer pupils the chance to go on a residential stay at an outdoor centre offering experiences in mountaineering activities and many other outdoor sports.
Youth and community groups, Duke of Edinburgh Award, Scouting and Guiding, and Air / Army / Sea Cadets
Many local or community based groups such as the ones listed above include elements of climbing, hill walking or mountaineering in the activities they provide. It is worth making enquiries to find out what activities such groups local to you offer.
Also read the BMC's invaluable little booklet Young People: Climbing, Hill Walking, Mountaineering . It is available as a free download.
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