By Rachael Bailey (Faculty) in conjunction with Kate Jeanes ('20)
The outdoor classroom provides a unique style of learning for the students of Jesse Remington High School. On May 13, 2019, a small group of eight students and 2 leaders traveled to Rumney State Park, world-renowned for its natural rock formations, in Rumney, NH, to spend the day rock climbing. Outside rock climbing provides the students the opportunity to practically apply the climbing skills and belaying techniques learned during rock climbing club at Vertical Dreams, located in Concord, NH. The benefit of the activity is multifaceted. Rock climbing not only challenges the physical limits of the students but also their mental and emotional psyche. Specifically, the students learn to trust each other and develop their communication and critical thinking skills.
Mr. Dan Burgher willingly offered the use of his knowledge and gear to facilitate this opportunity. With the help of Luke Lowne, a former JRHS student, the two set up a total of five different climbs. The routes varied in difficulty, allowing each climber to be challenged. As the students prepared to climb, each belayer checked the climber’s harness, figure 8 knot and helmet. Before starting up the wall, the climber confirmed the belayer was ready by asking the “The Commands,” which are “Is my belay on?” and “May I climb?”. Once belayer and climber expressed their readiness, the climber ascended the wall, trusting the belayer to pick up the slack in the rope and catch any falls .
The lessons learned from rock climbing can be transposed to our spiritual lives as well. Not only did the students learn to appreciate God’s natural playground, but the lesson of trust is applied to their everyday lives. As Kate Jeanes, a junior at JRHS, expressed, “Our day at Rumney not only built character and community, but it also grew every climber’s trust…As students ascended each climb, they placed their trust in multiple [areas, such as their belayer and the equipment].”
Letting go of safety and moving toward the unknown is nerve-wracking; however, trusting yourself and others is the only way to ascend the physical wall in front of you, which acts as a metaphor to challenges that arise throughout life.
The value of rock climbing is evident through its long-lasting impacts. Moreover, as one of the facilitators of the trip, I enjoyed being able to encourage the students as well as teach them how to belay. Overall, the trip to Rumney was filled with laughter, character-building and the chance to rock climb on natural rocks.