The rock climbing wall is both a metaphor and real-life challenge. It signifies both a physical feat that requires strength, endurance, and flexibility, and a testimony to the growth that kids who attend overnight summer camp go through on their way toward becoming young adults.
Most kids can not climb the rock wall when they first show up, but in just 4 weeks, many do. During the course of it, they go through a few phases.
Spying the Monster
Upon first spotting the rock wall it seems like nothing more than an insurmountable task. Sure, the older kids can do it, but not all of them. Some of the counselors can, too.
This is an amazing accomplishment that only truly incredible people can do. However, this point-of-view changes when someone quite normal does it.
It can be Done!
Nothing helps someone succeed like seeing another person complete a task, especially if it's someone who they should be able to do things better than. At coed summer camp, boys see a girl climb, and then they are all suddenly like the runners who followed Roger Bannister into the glory of running sub 4-minute miles.
By being exposed to new groups of people and challenges that are not present in their daily lives, children find that when they go to camp they are doing things that would have been otherwise unimaginable.
This is transposed in all aspects of their lives.
Succeeding in all Things
When children get to the top of the mountain (or rock wall) they get a different outlook on life. Everything that was a certain way before they achieved this feat is no longer the same. Something in them changes from what they knew they could not do into an endless list of open possibilities.
The view from the top really is different.
Successful Campers who Climb the Rock Wall go on to Climb Other Mountains
Among the many great success stories of those who have climbed the rock wall is David Katz. David grew up in New York City and is the younger brother of Matthew Katz, whose accomplishments are so long that listing them here would make this piece unreadable.
Always standing in the shadow of such an amazing sibling, it was hard for little David to see the opportunities one can only spot in the sunlight. However, one day at camp, away from his big brother's influence and glaring spotlight, he decided to attempt the rock wall.
Naturally, he was not able to ascend the great beast on his first try, nor the second, but counselors and campers alike began rallying behind him, cheering him on, and suddenly it was as if his success was their own.
Encouraged by this esprit de corps, David spent many hours working his way up, meeting small goals of climbing to just the next grip on his way to the ultimate goal. And when he did, the entire camp came together for a grand celebration.
David Katz has since climbed greater mountains (Columbia University being one of them), but this first one is the one he remembers as truly the ultimate challenge.