WALL-CLIMBING: How to make it a family adventure


William Roberts didn't make it to the top of the climbing wall the first time he tried.

He didn't make it the second or third time either.

But when Roberts rang the bell at the top the fourth time he attacked the climbing wall at the Victory Family YMCA, he was excited.

"I thought, 'Man, I'm so proud of myself. I have to do that again.' " the 10-year-old says.

David Nguyen sees that a lot as climbing wall coordinator at the Victory YMCA in York County.

"Climbing builds lots and lots of confidence and self-esteem," he says.

"It teaches kids problem solving. When the kids make it to the top, they say 'Wow. I can't believe I did that.' "

The first climbing wall was created in England in 1964 as a way for climbers to practice ascents in a controlled environment.

But gym climbing didn't start to become popular until 20 years later, and today it is considered its own sport with its own following.

The climbing wall at the York County YMCA is one of several indoor climbing facilities available on the Peninsula.

Experts say that climbing teaches kids problem solving skills as they assess where to put their feet and hands to push and pull themselves up the surface. Climbers also learn teamwork, as they work with their belayer, the spotter they are connected to with ropes, to reach the top.

Climbing is also good exercise, Nguyen says.

"You might think you are using your arms, but you use your legs more than your arms," he says. "It's a great full-body workout."

Jimmy Pesquera says it took him three minutes to get to the top the first time he climbed the wall.

"I was a little nervous," he says. "It seemed a little high,"

But during a recent try, Pesquera figures he went from the bottom to the bell in about a minute.

"It's fun," he says.

News to Use Places on the Peninsula that offer climbing: Bass Pro Shops Address: 1972 Power Plant Parkway, Hampton Phone: 262-5200 Fees: $3 per climb Requirements: Climbers must be 75 to 300 pounds. Victory Family YMCA Address: 101 Long Green Blvd., Yorktown Phone: 867-3300 Fees: Individual climbs are free for members. Nonmembers can pay $54 for eight one-hour classes (members pay $25). Requirements: Children must fit securely in a harness. West Hampton Community Center Address: 1638 Briarfield Road, Hampton Phone: 896-4687 Fees: $5 a year for membership. $10 a month for unlimited climbing or $1 per climb. Requirements: Climbers must be 6 years old and weigh at least 50 pounds.

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