A Statement of Values For Guiding Our Future
As climbers, we understand the importance of not only connecting to the outdoors through recreation and adventure, but of mastering skill sets that can promote self-confidence and offer healthy alternatives to traditional sports. For many of us, our first exposures to climbing came when we were kids, through the efforts of teachers or other adults who embraced the outdoors and recognized the potential of nontraditional avenues of physical education. These experiences were more than “one off” events. They were situations where adults identified children who might benefit from mastering climbing and worked to give kids a chance to develop the mental and physical skills necessary to be successful—the definition of personal growth. The fact that climbing also provided a strong connection to the outdoors was an integral part of the equation. We know from personal experience how these opportunities can be life-changing, instilling values and passions that transcend the moment and the activity, and how they can provide a framework for future success.
Unfortunately, these experiences are sporadic and not typical of established curriculum or programming. The DCC believes the Duluth Children’s Outdoor Charter is an opportunity to foster a philosophy that will promote healthy outdoor activities and help to ensure they are available to any child throughout the city regardless of location or economic circumstances. By seeking to merge two of Duluth’s greatest resources, our youth and our diverse outdoor environment, the Duluth Children’s Outdoor Charter is a strong statement of our city’s values, a commitment to equity, and a valuable tool for guiding our community’s future.
Putting the Charter Into Action
In February, 2016, The Duluth Climbers Coalition was awarded a Northland Foundation grant to partner with Valley Youth Center, an after-school and summer programming provider, to develop a 6-month pilot climbing program for kids in West Duluth. From 2016 to 2019, the DCC has used a Duluth Parks Fund Grant and other funding to further this program, train volunteers to increase our capacity for youth programming, and broaden climbing opportunities for underserved youth. In addition, the DCC has facilitated outdoor climbing for Youth Outdoors-Duluth’s Adventure Series. The DCC’s summer climbing event, Flock to the Rock, is an annual family and kid friendly opportunity for outdoor rock climbing (all gear and instruction is provided free of charge). And as part of our yearly, mid-winter Duluth Ice & Mixed Fest, the DCC offers free ice climbing clinics for middle school and high school-age kids.