By Andrea Arnold
A new adventure awaits the young people of McBride. The Outdoor Adventure Life Company has found a home and is presenting the first of many series of adventures. This first program, Adventure Rocks, is focused on climbing.
“The goal is to create healthy outdoor personal habits for the children and teens of McBride,” said one of the founders of the program, Laurella Gabert. “To build a stronger community among the kids through these programs. We want to show that we go further together.”
The Gabert family, along with other volunteers, have been hard at work transforming the main floor of 246 Main Street in McBride into a multi-use facility called “The Rock.”
The Gaberts have many great plans for the space, and the first phase focuses on preparing it for summer programming based on rock climbing. Some of the walls will be turned into short climbing walls where they can take kids through an introduction to climbing.
The broader picture will include a bouldering wall, possibly a ninja line, pool table, comfortable seating and other elements that may lead to a teen drop-in centre. They are focused on using durable building materials to keep the overall maintenance and upkeep minimal.
“We are sticking with tin and wood where we can,” said Gabert. “We will be using fun colors to brighten up the space.”
The program geared for younger kids, Grades 1-6, will begin meeting on Fridays after school on June 9th. Then in July, they will switch to all-day programming on Wednesdays throughout July and August (aside for the last one in August). Throughout June, the kids will learn skills and work on some aspects of fitness in preparation for the all day excursions during the summer months.
This first program had a limited registration due to the amount of equipment and transportation they have available. Gabert says they have already reached the registration max.
They are also offering a similar but separate opportunity for kids in Grades 7-9. The kids will spend each Monday in July learning climbing skills at different sites around the valley.
Gabert says if there is demand and commitment from the older teenagers in the community, they would create and offer a program option for them as well.
By bringing similarly-aged kids together in an environment where they are learning their own strengths and weaknesses alongside each other through team building activities, Gabert hopes to see cliques dissolve.
“There are things you cannot do without a team,” she said. “We will be there supporting the kids as they learn to support each other, building a strong foundation and a better future for McBride through them.”
The hope of Gabert is that these programs are available to every child in the community.
“We are charging enough to give value to the program,” she said.
However low the amount, they understand that there may still be a financial barrier for some children. She says that they have received some monetary donations that can be used to remove that barrier.
Adventure Rocks will be providing participants with the necessary climbing gear, helmets and harnesses. A future goal of Gaberts is to raise enough money to have a variety of climbing shoes available as well, but for now, regular runners will do the trick.
The kids on these first trips will be expected to bring a bagged lunch. The trips leave from “The Rock” at 10:30am, and return for pickup at 7:00pm. The Gaberts will host supper at their home in Loos on climbing days as it is pretty close to most of the places they will be exploring.
“We are planning to finish up the day there with food and games,” she said. “Or, we will go there earlier if our day is cut short due to weather.”
Support from the community is paramount, especially in the areas of spreading the word and transportation. Transportation is a big part of the daily activities, and Gabert said that parents have stepped up to cover rides for the first adventurers. However, she is asking if anyone has other suggestions or possibilities for transportation, she would love to hear about them.
Another future possibility for The Rock is to host evenings for select demographics. Gabert would like to see groups of similar-aged adults use it to learn new skills as well.
“McBride is an amazing community already,” said Gabert. “However, there is some division. We hope to help remove some stereotypes and the division. I want to help make it better by blessing the kids with the talents I, we, have been given.”