Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

First campout climbing partners

“Nooot a big deal!”

My 11-year-old, Bo, went on his first Boy Scout campout to try rock climbing at Sand Rock in Alabama.

The outfitters gave all the boys instructions and then they lined up to climb several different top ropes that were set. Despite Bo’s bluster and bravado that he couldn’t wait to climb, I knew when the time came there would be some pushback.

After some procrastination on his part (stuff like “I’m gonna head back to camp to brush my teeth” or “Can we go do some homework first?”), I encouraged him to give it a go.

Bo climbing3

Dear Life, this is me holding on!

He strapped on a harness and tied onto one of the ropes with an, “On belay?” to the instructor belaying him, followed by “Climbing!” as he started up.

Shortly into it, he ran head-on into a lack of confidence moment and let his fears lead to tears. Those were followed by head shaking, which I knew to be his saying, “I can’t do this so let’s call it a day and grab lunch.”

I sat back, watched and tried to be removed from his moment. However, about the time I could tell he was going to give in to his emotions and desire to quit I calmly said two things.

“Stop crying. Take a breath.”

Bo climbing

Now, we’re cookin’!

He went silent. Then did both.

And then, like a clear sky after a storm, he started to progress up the rocks. It wasn’t easy, as I did it with my own hesitations shortly thereafter. Several minutes of concentration and effort later, he made it up the rock face and kissed the top carabiner to signify completion of the task.

After he repelled down, he came straight to me. He put his arms around me for a hug of validation. He’d overcome his fear and accomplished what he set out to do. He later climbed it again for good measure. It was a good experience for him. And for me.

I like days like that.

Go. See. Be. Do.


About Matt Boettcher - Dads' Bucket List

Husband and dad to two boys who's always trying to enjoy the humor and meaning in the journey of fatherhood. Check out how things are going at: In addition to these responsibilities I'm also an avid (some would say obsessive) sports fan, very amateur gardener, aging but still active runner, and an always willing to experience a new country traveler.
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