A note to our son Sam, as he’s training to be a climbing instructor at Scout camp. I share it here because it was too long to text. Pfft, writers.
I know you had your eyes set on the aquatics director role and how you were disappointed when circumstances beyond your control prevented it from happening this year. However, when I heard you were moving to the rock wall, I thought, ”Now THERE is a role that perfectly suits Sam.”
And so, if you’ve forgotten how much you loved climbing as a kid, I wanted to share three climbing-related moments from your life.
The first happened when you were three, which would have been the Summer of 2003. You were playing in the backyard, and me, still a relatively new parent, assumed you were safely contained by our six-foot stockade fence.
You weren’t. When I opened the front door in response to a tiny knock, you stood there, smiling and oblivious to any of the thousand perils my worried parent’s mind instantly conjured, not least of which were the dangers of traffic or falling onto the concrete pad. To your mind, an obstacle three times your height was a trifle. And a fun one.
Feel free to share that story at camp. 🙂
The second happened at a water park at the Wisconsin Dells. You weren’t so much climbing up, as climbing off a slippery waterslide. This time you did meet concrete, and painfully so. Alright, alright, this isn’t quite a climbing memory like the first one, but this is my post and I make the rules. However, I think you learned an important lesson about balance and I don’t think you’ve taken a spill like that since.
And that brings me to the third memory. You were a regular chimpanzee on playground equipment. It wasn’t unusual to find you scaling the frame of the swings, crawling across the top of the monkey bars (instead of swinging across from bar to bar), or sitting on the roof of the fort. It became clear that you were sure-footed enough that you wouldn’t fall. No amount of raised adult hands or sharp inhalations of breath was enough to stop you.
If there is one other reason for making three points, it’s this: in climbing, there is a rule called ‘three points of contact’ for which you always have two hands and a foot or two feet and a hand in contact with the climbing surface.
You have been climbing, always climbing, your entire life. It doesn’t matter if the thing was made for it. Oh no. It could happen so quickly, it was like magic, and no adult had enough eyes in their head to prevent it. More than once, I found myself thinking, “There’s a thing he won’t climb” only to find myself soon proven wrong.
Come full circle to your new role at Scout camp, I think of your lifelong connection. How you have climbed across rope courses, down into caves, and up onto mountains, and you have also scaled the ranks from Tiger Cub to Eagle Scout, earning achievements like Arrow of Light and Order of the Arrow along the way. Always forward, always up, always reaching the top.
Similarly in life, we are making forward progress, even when it feels like the opposite. Sometimes we sink or swim. Sometimes, we get knocked down, only to return to our feet.
Sometimes you climb.
And we’ll always be here to encourage you to climb higher. Love, Dad
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© Michael Wallevand, May 22, 2022