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A New Take on Rock Climbing


Adaptive Rock ClimbingThere are a lot of misconceptions about the world of rock climbing, and while it is still inherently dangerous, it’s growing popularity and therapeutic benefits have drawn one local facility to bring it to a rather unexpected audience. In the past three years, the Doylestown Rock Gym and Adventure Center has been developing an Adaptive Climbing Program for students of all ages with special needs. “Programs similar to this are popping up all over the country, but for the most part are completely unprecedented,” Gym Manager and Adaptive Program Coordinator Robb Krug reports, “my staff has done a wonderful job developing the program; combining their rock climbing know-how with input from various resources such as therapists, teachers and students parents.” 

The program’s staff designs a personalized lesson for each students depending on their goals, capabilities and limitations. “It’s difficult to find physical activities for my son to participate in,” one parent admits, “he’s gotten much stronger and confident since we started coming [to the Doylestown Rock Gym] almost two years ago. I never would have imagined him climbing 30 foot walls and using climbing lingo but it’s a great fit!” 

The program encourages the mentally and physically challenged to try this great sport and has made amazing adjustments to their facility to accommodate all. On an indoor Challenge Course, similar to those found outside in the trees at summer camps, students work on balance and play games to develop gross motor skills. A number of companies have developed various ‘full body’ or ‘sit’ harnesses for paraplegic students, on which the Doylestown Rock Gym has been integral in testing out and giving feedback on. 

“It takes some time to develop the necessary comfort with leaving the ground, hanging in a harness, and the many strange tactile stimulations found in the rock gym.” An Adaptive Instructor shared, “Seeing the kids having a great time up there is so rewarding, but almost better is seeing the parents react to their child overcoming these obstacles and having a blast!” 

As if the physical workout isn’t enough, rock climbing is a practice in problem solving and interpersonal relationships. Students learn the importance of communication between and climber and their belayer, the person holding the rope for them. It is an exercise in spatial relationships tempered with ones physical capabilities and encourages students to push themselves mentally and physically to achieve success. 

For more information on the Adaptive Climbing Program, visit doylestownrockgym.com or call 215-230-9085.