Climbing Out, runs 5 day outdoor activity programmes aimed at rebuilding confidence and self esteem in young people who have been through a life changing injury, illness or trauma. The programmes offer a wide range of activities. All the activities are bespoke to the needs and capabilities of individual participants, so it doesn’t matter how fit you are, or what physical limitations you may have, all the activities are adapted to suit the group, so everyone can take part and have a go. Nearly 6 months ago I attended one of these programmes.
My first challenge of the week actually started before even arriving at camp. I got a puncture from the slate edges at the side of the road in the lake district, after already haven driven over 200 miles it was an eventful few hours getting my tire sorted and I eventually arrived at camp at about 5pm (4 hours late….) Within about 30 minutes I really wondered if I should have come, I was the only one with obvious mobility issues out of the fellow young people attending the course. On the first evening the leaders took us to Cathedral Cavern. The walk down to the cavern was tough, quite a steep hill. Once inside I felt as though the walk was worth it as had never really seen something like it. We continued to walk further into the cavern and then had to scramble up huge rocks and a steep climb, at this point I wished I was anywhere else but this dark cavern. I actually cried, I had no idea how I could get up these huge rocks, how I would get out and why the hell I even said yes to coming to the camp. I felt incapable of being able to achieve the task ahead of me but the leaders made it clear they were there to support me and get me to the top. I actually made it and once over the top I had an overwhelming sense of achievement. Still with adrenaline rushing I then had to navigate through the dark tunnels of the cavern to get out and trek back up the hill to the minibus. I slept well that night!!
The next couple of days were a whirlwind of emotions, physical excursions and mental battles. Kelda’s own personal experiences have helped shape and develop what Climbing Out is about and what it aims to achieve. Over the course of the week not only do you battle physical challenges but mental ones. Learning how to overcome anything you come across. The toolkit that you leave Climbing Out with enables you to move forward with your life no matter your circumstances. For me it was the ‘easy’ tasks that were my most difficult, I would happily abseil down the tallest cliff edge but the trek to the top was my battle. At the time I attended Climbing Out I was using a prosthetic knee that I had lost all trust in, I was tentative and held back so to achieve everything I did was a great personal battle. Before arriving at Climbing Out I didn’t realise how much of my self esteem that I had lost, without realising I was holding back on doing a lot so this experience truly came at the right time for me
At the end of the week we all completed a task where there were cards out on a table with words/phrases on such as ‘positive’ ‘happy’ ‘energetic’ ‘strong’ and we were told to pick ones and give them to the other people in the room and explain what you saw in that person and why you picked that card. There were a lot of tears doing this from everyone. The words I got were: Adaptable, positive x 2, fun, just do it, persistent, fearless, awe inspiring and solid. We had to explain which we were most surprised to receive and I picked positive as on the inside I really didn’t feel positive and for me it was very emotional to know that I came across positive.
So after a week of, scrambling, trekking, abseiling, canoeing and most importantly confidence building and learning about myself I felt ready to take on anything, I felt like a new person (perhaps not physically at first as I was ready to sleep for a week!!) It would have been easy for me to rave about what a wonderful experience it all was days after coming back but what I really wanted to see was whether Climbing Out would have a lasting impact on my life, my journey and the way that I see myself.
So 6 months down the line I can safely say that Climbing Out has taught me so much in how I see myself and where my path has led me. I push myself to do more physically and this is so evident in the progress that I have made with the gym, running and walking. Before Climbing Out I was happy to live comfortably and not push the boundaries but now Climbing Out has aided me to push through barriers that I face. Each of the young girls I spent my week with have all overcome different life experiences whether this be illnesses, life events etc and all have taken away that same message that they can do anything and that it is just about adapting the way you approach life. In the facebook group you get added to after attending you meet other young people who have completed the programme and it is evident from these people that Climbing Out is still impacting their lives so positively.
I truly think its unbelievable how in 5 days one lady and her team can make such a lasting impact on so many young peoples lives.