What Project Climb Brought to Sugar House Boys and Girls Club

Hey Friends,

We have loved having this community collaboration with Sugar House Boys and Girls Club. We wanted to provide an inside look at how Jaimie Dunn, the Director of the Club, has seen an impact on a couple of the students who have participated in the Project Climb program. This reaffirms our goals as an organization; as long as there are under-served communities we will do our best to expand their access and expertise in the outdoors.  Now enough from us, lets get to the amazing stories from Jaimie!

Quick Facts:

- The Sugar House Club opened its doors in 1968, and today serves over 2,500 kids annually through licensed child care and sports programs. (Source)

- We will be bringing Project Climb back for the SUMMER!


Impact on a 3rd Grade Boy

Alex has had a difficult childhood. He spent the first couple of years of his life homeless, living in a car and constantly on the move with his mother. His mother struggled with addiction and has been in and out of jail and his life.  Alex spent time in foster care and was eventually placed with his grandmother. He has attachment and abandonment issues and struggles to make connections with others. He has difficult behaviors that make positive relationships hard for him. Alex does not like to participate in gym or outside activities. It is difficult to get him to do anything that involves interacting with others and prefers to play on the computer or sit alone.

When the rock-climbing program started, Alex was one of the first kids I signed up. I was concerned about how he would behave so I made sure to go with his group myself. From the second we got there he was excited, jumping up and down in place. I was shocked to hear him asking for help and advice on what to do. He loved getting the positive encouragement from the others while he climbed.

Over the next three months, there wasn’t one Friday that Alex didn’t ask me if he could go rock climbing, even on the weeks that the other age groups were going. I have been trying to find something to motivate him for 2 years and this was it. Every Friday he was on his best behavior just in case there was an open spot for him to go. He would even participate in gym activities if I told him I would add him to the climbing list for that week.

To see this kid excited about something was wonderful. To see him gaining confidence in himself and having positive interactions with those around him in a new place was amazing. To the volunteers with Elevated Mountain Guides, I am sure Alex just seemed like a normal, goofy 8-year-old. However, coming from someone who has worked closely with him for 2 years I can honestly say that he was a different kid when he was climbing. This is something he would have never been able to do without Elevated Mountain Guides.

Impact on a Teen Girl

Terra is a girl that attends our teen center. We have really been struggling with her attitude and negativity towards her peers and staff. Her poor attitude makes it hard for her to make friends and she is bullied at school. Terra wants the approval of her peers so badly that she often lies or makes poor choices to get attention.

Terra was excited when she heard about rock climbing. She bragged to her peers that she had gone before and was really good. Everyone seemed to doubt that this was true. Her peers have a hard time trusting her and tend to ignore her.

When Terra went on the first climbing trip, she actually was really good. The volunteers commented on her belay skills and used her as the example of what to do. They also let her be the first teen to belay another youth.

The staff at the B&G Club have had a hard time making a positive connection with Terra because they have to get after her so often. It was great to give the staff an opportunity to give her positive feedback and encouragement.  While she was climbing, she kept yelling to our staff Brittney to look at how far she had gotten. Terra rarely initiates any positive interactions with her staff so it was exciting to see her calling out for her approval.

The most touching moment for me was when Terra was belaying another teen girl who is popular and doesn’t normally interact with her. When the other girl got down from the wall she turned to Terra and gave her a big hug and said in front of all the other kids “Wow I really had to trust you! My life was in your hands!” and gave her a hug. Terra looked so proud and happy at that moment I couldn’t help but cry! Little things like that go such a long way in the life of a teenager. I took a picture of the two of them together and posted it on our Facebook. Terra’s mom told me that she printed the picture and put it up in her room.

Terra may have had the means to go climbing at a gym but would have never been able to do this with her peers without Elevated Mountain Guides. This climbing program gave our youth and staff the opportunity to grow together. When this program started, I was most excited to give our youth an opportunity to try something new they would not be able to otherwise. I am always looking for ways to get our kids active and fit in a fun environment. Now I have realized that climbing is not only good for your physical health but also your mental health. The kids who participated have more self-confidence, they overcame fears with the help of the peers and they learned how to give each other encouragement.

Thank you all for supporting our program and taking the time to read these awesome impact stories! We love bringing this program to the Salt Lake area and cannot wait for the summer program! Please comment, share, and connect with us if you are interested in learning more about Project Climb!