Becoming a Climbing Family

By Trisha Cloutier

There is a certain moment when a person undergoes a metamorphosis, transforming from someone who climbs to a climber.

For this family, their youngest son Declan was the catalyst for that transformation. Not only did Declan become a climber, but his family became a climbing family.

Now, Declan, his brother Eamon, and parents Lee and Rachel climb as a family as often as they can, and in some exceptional places! We asked Declan and his parents about their experience with rock climbing, Salt Pump, and life in general, here’s their story.

Tell us about Declan and his experience. What changes have you seen in him since he started climbing?

Climbing has become Declan’s passion over the last year. We try to make it to Salt Pump as often as possible, and we’ve been outdoor bouldering in Zion National Park and Rumney, NH. He’s read four or five memoirs of climbers, and he dreams about future climbing exploits. In terms of changes in him, Declan has really developed grit. When he first started climbing, he tended to give up or get frustrated relatively easily. Now, he sees possibility in every climb. He sees some that he can work on now and others that he will be able to do when he’s taller and/or stronger. It has been so rewarding to witness this development in him.

How was your experience with Salt Pump Summer Camp? Do you have any thoughts for parents thinking of signing their kids up?

Our kids loved it! Not only do the kids learn climbing techniques, but they learn perseverance, and they cheer each other on. When Declan and another camper wanted to learn to climb the crack [an advanced climbing feature in the gym], the counselors made a special effort to teach them. We were so pleased with the group and individual dynamics. It’s an excellent camp!

Declan and Eamon climbing at Rumney in New Hampshire Declan and Eamon climbing at Rumney in New Hampshire

Tell us about your first family climbing adventure and what climbing has meant to your family.

Climbing, both in the gym and outdoors, has given us another activity that we can do as a family. There is a lot of interaction in talking about technique, cheering each other on, and belaying.

We bouldered for the first time just outside the borders of Zion National Park.  We rented a crash pad and shoes for the boys, and they bouldered. The temperature ranged from 85 to 106 degrees during the times they climbed, but we just stayed on the shady side of the rocks, and the boys didn’t care. Of course, we parents were on edge any time they got very high, and they kept telling us to stop worrying–classic kid-parent dynamic.  We all loved it!

Declan climbing in Zion on family vacation Declan climbing in Zion on family vacation Declan climbing at Salt Pump Summer Camp – 2017 Declan climbing at Salt Pump Summer Camp – 2017

Declan, when did you first try rock climbing?

I tried rock climbing a long time ago, but I fell in love with it when I went to Salt Pump for the first time.  I liked it even more when I did a week of summer camp last summer.

And what is your favorite part of rock climbing?

Bouldering. All I need is a chalk bag and a pair of shoes.

We are very grateful for Salt Pump–not just for the climbing, but particularly for the staff.  They take an interest in our kids and interact with them in really positive, humorous, motivating ways.  We all love it there and recommend it to everyone.

Declan, what has climbing taught you?

It’s taught me that when I can’t do a climb the first time I try it, I can keep working on it. I choose bouldering routes that I can’t do, and I keep trying.

What would you say to other kids who are thinking about trying rock climbing?

Definitely try it!

Family bouldering session in Zion Family bouldering session in Zion

For information about our Salt Pump Summer Camps and ways to bring your family together through climbing, please visit our Kids Homepage or contact our Youth Programs Driector, Trish Cloutier.