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Planet Granite (Sunnyvale): Lisa Gregory, Youth Program Coordinator

November 22, 2009

From time to time, I am interviewing Camp Directors to get their opinions on how to plan your summer so that your child has a good experience, and to learn about what makes their camp special.

This week I spoke with Lisa Gregory who runs the summer camps at Planet Granite, a rock-climbing gym in Sunnyvale.  The gym is huge and inviting, and has both indoor and outdoor climbing space. Once I arrived, I wished I had brought a change of clothes and could test out the walls.  Here’s what Lisa had to share.

Is there anything special you need to do to prepare your child for a rock climbing camp?

You shouldn’t need to specially prepare your child for a climbing camp.  Most children like to climb. Usually when arrive, they’re excited to see the gym. Our staff are trained to work with children, and can handle issues that might arise. We can work with first time climbers, kids afraid of heights and separation anxiety. But in regards to climbing – most children are natural climbers. They gravitate towards using correct technique (climbing with their legs, not holding themselves away from the wall). You do not need to prep them for climbing camp.

Are there questions you should ask before selecting a climbing camp?

Yes! Climbing camp can be just the opportunity to climb, or it can be more that. Campers can learn technique, climbing commands, bouldering and more. Some key questions to ask include:

-Does your camp have a curriculum? What do campers learn by the end of the week?

-What is your ratio of kids to instructors? This is especially important in climbing. When kids are on belay, a high ratio of kids to instructors means that your child will spend a lot of time waiting, as opposed to climbing. (Planet Granite offers a  ratio of 5:1 kids to instructors)

-What training do you provide staff? Are all staff belay certified? What training do you provide for working with kids? You may want to ask specific questions, such is how do you help kids afraid to climb or that is stuck on a wall? You want the camp to have a response that indicates that the camp is prepared to address the issue.

What’s special about Planet Granite?

Obviously, our most unique offering is rock climbing, both on belay and bouldering. We’ve made some big changes for 2010. Our camp is moving from 2 hours/day to 4 hours/day. In addition, we’ve revamped our climbing curriculum for 2010. They’ll end the camp knowing all their climbing commands, how to assess whether a climb is appropriate for them, climbing technique and more. We have strengthened our instructor training, and our kids’ programs, with team building games and confidence building games.

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