Twenty-five years ago, six Portland Adventist Academy students formed the school’s first climbing club. Led by Mark Smith, a CAP teacher and renowned and avid climber at the forefront of the sport, the club has become one of the most popular on campus.
With many indoor climbing gyms in the Portland, Oregon area, PAA students are lucky to have a place to climb up to three times a week. In addition to weekly meetups, the club travels annually to Smith Rock State Park for an outdoor rock climbing experience.
This non-competitive sport has been a basis for deepening relationships between students and staff. “I love how we all work together to help someone achieve their goal,” said MacKenzie Hall, a sophomore. “The climbing club is like a family where we can talk openly and exercise.”
“As a co-sponsor and an amateur climber, the club gave me the opportunity to come into contact with students and even learn from them,” said Nathalia Parra, an English teacher. “Students have skills and experience that they can use to teach me. The bonds and connections that develop are the real core of this club.”
Over the past 25 years, hundreds of students have joined the club for friendship and exercise. “But the highest purpose of the club,” he said, “is to open up opportunities for character development, including facing and overcoming fears and personal limitations in order to achieve all that God wants for our lives. Climbing during adolescence is an incredible opportunity. to develop self-confidence, awareness and trust in God at a formative time in life. Climbing has changed my life, and c It’s rewarding to see rock climbing transform the lives of CIP students.
The variety of skills developed by the club has served many of its members. Several have gone on to earn degrees as Nationally Certified Climbing Instructors, and more than half of Walla Walla University’s climbing wall staff are AAP graduates who have reached their level of experience. thanks to the PAA club.
What began for many as a hobby and simple exercise has become a catalyst for success for these students. Parents also feel the benefits of the climbing club and are grateful for these opportunities.
“Climbing has provided Liz with the opportunity to really experience what she is capable of and push herself to new heights – literally and figuratively,” said Lynnette Struntz, a proud mother. “Liz loves to compete, and one of the many great things about climbing is that you can compete against yourself. Every week, Liz pushes herself to beat the best climb from the last week. Thanks to This effort builds her problem-solving skills and stamina.”
What started with just six climbers, the PAA Rock Climbing Club has grown to twenty-six mixed members in its 25th anniversary. It impacted so many lives as they witnessed a small glimpse of heaven on earth – growing and encouraging one another as we ascend to our eternal home.