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The Expedition Orientation

Today was the Orientation day at the YMCA for the kids rock climbing camp coming up in July. The goal of the orientation day is to give the kids an idea of what to expect, the gear and essentials they will need and be using, and allow them to ask questions and get comfortable with the whole thing. 
 The program is run by the YMCA of Seattle through their Bold &Gold Leadership program. Since the twins are 11 they were eligible for 3 different expeditions,  2 being backpacking and the third focused on rock climbing, which is what we signed the twins up for:  “Sea to Summit”.

Their rock climbing expedition will have 9 kids, two adult instructors, and a teen who has graduated the full leadership program and is a graduating High school senior. The Expeditions are separated boys from girls, which minimizes the distractions and issues a coed trip might have.

 I’m not sure of the quality elsewhere, but the YMCA programs here in the Seattle area are top notch. Both of the kids have previously attended summer camp at Camp Coleman and loved it. Jackie will be doing another week there this year while James opted for a different agenda this summer, but more of that another time.

So, today’s orientation was at the Cascade People’s Center in Seattle and was easy to find once we got through the Seattle Rt 5 traffic.
It was a pretty simple setup with tables around the edges, each arranged as a different station. At check in they got their name badges, checked out some of their recommended books on hiking, rock climbing, and how to limit your impact on the environment by leaving the area as you found it.

Moving on, we got a briefing and the Q&A on the check in process for the day of departure from base camp (the Y) for their expedition and what the schedule would be for their week. The Y has a very wide range of rock climbing and wilderness hiking/ camping expeditions, with increased difficulty and skill requirements for older kids.
The twins trip is a 1 week beginners rock climbing  Expedition at Mt Erie in Anacortes, WA, staying in tents at camping facilities with no major hiking and backpacking involved, just all about rock climbing.

The next station was with a National Park Ranger discussing the various National Parks in the region across the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges, including our local volcanoes, Mt Rainier and Mt Baker.

The following station had a long line and we skipped it, but it consisted of maps pointing out where the specific Expeditions traveled to.

We then got to the equipment station where the guide went through all of the required equipment and clothes the kids would need. The great thing is that for a nominal fee they have all of it available for rental, so what we can’t pick up over the next several weeks for a reasonable price we can rent for the week.

The guides here were awesome, painting a clear picture for the kids of the whole adventure. Having successfully completed the rock wall climbing on our Holiday extended family Cruise aboard the Oasis of the Seas, Jackie was very excited. It’s sometimes hard to tell with James, but he said he was as well so we went with that. We will see ;)

The YMCA Bold and Gold Leadership program is geared specifically for kids ages 11-18, exposing kids to some of the most beautiful and natural places in the region through their expeditions. It is meant to inspire the kids to be their most courageous and confident selves as they learn new skills, make lifelong friends and challenge themselves to run towards adventure.

Your local YMCA or other kid focused organizations may have similar programs. We feel that in today’s world of hyper focused attention on technology and competitive sports our kids benefit from exposure to different experiences in different settings with different people.

Each Sunday morning in June the kids have a rock climbing class so By July when they go on their “Sea to Summit” Expedition they should have some basic skills and confidence under their belt and be able to focus on the experience and environment itself.

Every parent has a different idea of what would be good for their kids. Physical, mental, and experiential learning in different circumstances is where we try to focus them, your methods or intentions may differ.

Look out for the updates in June on their Rock climbing classes and experience.


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