If your child is interested in climbing or hill walking but you are not sure what the next steps are then read on.
The BMC is supporting the NSPCC with their Parents in Sport Week and so this week we will be providing guidance, support and ideas for parents who wish to introduce their children to climbing or walking, or for those who wish to develop their skills, and for parents with children who compete in climbing competitions.
There are many ways that a child may first experience hill walking or climbing – through a member of the family or a family friend, via a school trip to an outdoor centre, at their local youth group or at a friend’s birthday party at the local climbing wall. Whichever path is taken there is support available from the BMC to get to the next stage.
Kids Club, competitions & National Award Schemes
Most climbing walls will have sessions designed for young people from the age of 7-8 years old, some centres will even have sessions suitable for those as young as 4. These sessions will provide training to ensure that key skills are taught in a safe, friendly and fun environment. Many climbing walls will offer youth members the opportunity to then progress through the National Indoor Climbing Award Scheme (NICAS) and/or the National Indoor Bouldering Award Scheme (NIBAS). As the participants progress through the levels they will become a more competent and rounded climber.
For those young people who wish to compete there are a range of progressive competitions that the BMC runs and many climbing walls will run local events throughout the year. For most young people their first experience of a large competition will be the regional rounds of the Youth Climbing Series. Check out the guidance from the NSPCC about being the parent of a talented athlete and watch a film from the BMC about being the parent of an elite climber
For young people with a disability there may need to be some adaptations made and it is advisable for parents to chat with the instructors at the wall to look at the specific adaptations that will be needed. More information about inclusivity can be found in this article
The opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy hill walking or rock climbing are many and varied, and for a parent who may not have had much experience in these activities it can feel like a minefield. Fear not! There are lots of ways that you can support your child to experience the outdoors in a safe way
- Chat to the staff at your local climbing wall and find out about their outdoor courses
- Hire an instructor for the day by going to Mountain Training and search for an instructor in your local area
- Join a local club. Not all clubs will accept under 18’s without a parent or guardian present so check out to see what your local club offers
- Book on to one of the transition courses that the BMC runs to help young people make the move from indoor to outdoor climbing
- Check out outdoor centres for courses that are designed for young people
- For young people over the age of 14 consider attending a Hill Skills or Mountain Skills course, these are suitable for adults too so could accessed by parents too.
- Check out films on BMC TV that will back up skills learnt from one of the above options and act as a good reference point
Longer term opportunities
For those young people who wish to make a career in climbing and being in the outdoors there are many options available that are explored in these two articles that are useful for parents and their children to check out – Career paths of climbing and Jobs in the outdoor sector
For more details about instructor qualifications check out the Mountain Training website
If you're under 18 (or a student) you can join us for just £19.35 a year. Or, £16.97 for your first year on Direct Debit. With members discounts in over 600 outdoor shops, you'll start saving money as soon as you start buying gear.
WATCH: Just for Fun on BMC TV
WATCH: First Steps: Katy Whittaker on BMC TV
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