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"He who would travel happily must travel light."

- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, French writer & aviator

Rock Climbing Opportunity for Balinese Youth

By Mark Chaves on 22 January 2013

The last time I wrote, we were just about to conduct our first rock climbing class with our local junior high school youth on Bali, Indonesia. Here is a quick recap: we developed a rock climbing outreach program and teamed up with a local junior high school to recruit some participants. Again, we thought it was important to give back to our community and I grew frustrated trying to make effective changes through established NGOs. There are other benefits: the junior high school we teamed up with has an outdoor adventure program but no adventure teacher, we rely on local talent so we can showcase and cultivate skills that are in demand, and lastly, we felt it important to grow altruistic qualities in our team.

So, let me back up and describe what we put in place. First we decided to ask the school to nominate 10-15 students based on school standing (i.e. attendance, grades, good behavior, good physical standing, adequate English speaking skills). The nominated teens had to write a short 200 word essay to 1) introduce themselves and 2) write why they want to learn how to rock climb. Only six were selected to participate in our first outreach program due to the space of the rock climbing area and availability of the guides.

The rock climbing instruction program consisted of 5 one hour sessions which were conducted once per week. The individual classes are broken down as follows:
1. Introductions/ice breakers, basic traverse, what is Top Rope (TR) climbing, gear, safety, climbing, and TR climbing routes
2. TR belay, pair-up and climb in teams
3. Rappel/abseil
4. Teaching TR climbing to new classmates (3 additional classmates were invited to be the new rock climbing students)
5. Fun climb, rappel, and graduation

This experience has been a win-win for everyone involved especially the kids and their guides. Everyone “grew up” just a little more. The students became our teachers. We learned from them just as much as they learned from us. Now everyone is asking us when is the next one.

Mark is a Yoga Instructor based in Bali. Prior to moving to Bali, Mark lived in America working in software and teaching Yoga, surfing, snowboarding, and rock climbing. Mark actively volunteers his time teaching community Yoga classes, working at animal shelters, teaching rock climbing, and supporting local coral reef conservation projects.

About the author

mark l chaves

Independent Consultant, Writer, & Photographer

Mark became a consultant, writer, and photographer after working in the software industry for 20 years in Fortune 500 companies. He recently transitioned from his roles as a Wellness Consultant and…  Read full bio