CSS climbing tower challenges campers to scale new heights

This summer campers at Camp Solomon Schechter were introduced to a new challenge – a 45-foot climbing tower. The structure, nestled against the woods at the end of the sports field, features two different walls, one for beginner-to-intermediate climbers and the other for advanced-to-expert climbers.

“Having some variability in the difficulty on each wall has been great,” says Executive Director Sam Perlin. “Campers can test their abilities by trying the more difficult side of the wall, while still being able to move back to the easier side to complete a successful climb.”

The climbing tower completes Schechter’s five-year plan to create a robust program that progressively teaches the campers – in a Jewish setting – team building, self-confidence, social skills, problem solving and other youth development skills, along with inspiring campers to improve their agility and physical coordination. The other two legs of this program are the Challenge Course (built in 2010) and the Zip Tour (installed in 2011).

Aleph campers complete the simpler low elements of the Challenge Course and the “tamer,” a single-leg zip line in the Challenge Course area. The Bet campers participate in the harder low elements and the simpler high elements on the Challenge Course, the Zip Tour and the beginner-to-intermediate wall of the climbing tower. The Gimmel campers test themselves on the more advanced high elements of the Challenge Course and the advanced-to-expert wall of the climbing tower. And the Oded program utilizes all elements to teach these counselors-in-training how to lead activities in this program and to learn about leadership, team building and the group process.

“The climbing tower has been an amazing addition to the summer camp experience at Schechter,” says Assistant Director David Furman. “There is nothing so rewarding as seeing a camper’s awestruck, and a bit nervous, face when they first look up from the bottom of the wall as I hook them onto the belay rope. This is followed by the intense concentration as they choose their path up the wall. Then their beaming smile and hoots of joy as they ring the bell at the top!” The climbing tower at Camp Solomon Schechter was made possible by grants from the Samis Foundation in Seattle and the Holzman Family Foundation in Portland.

Jef Nobbe is the development director of Camp Solomon Schechter.

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