Climbing is evolving. Whether or not we choose to evolve with it is our own decision. The industry is growing, and with it, more people are entering our sport at a younger and younger age. The kids are getting stronger. It's a movement and we can either join or be left behind.
For the past two years I've been traveling the country teaching climbing clinics with Professional Climbers International (PCI). The organization sends pro climbers like myself, Daniel Woods, Paul Robinson, Kevin Jorgeson, Sasha DiGiulian and Angie Payne, to name a few, around to host gyms so we can share our knowledge and passion for climbing with the younger generations.
Most of us have been doing this for fifteen-plus years. Obviously we don't know everything, but who would we be as professional athletes if we didn't give back to the generations to follow? Not only sharing the experience we've gained as it pertains to training, but movement and competition strategy as well.
When I was a kid my mom drove five hours so I could take a clinic in Chicago, Illinois with Tiffany Campbell. I don't remember a damn thing she taught me at that clinic. The only thing I remember is at the end of the day she said, "You have great potential."
My goal with these PCI clinics isn't necessarily to turn young athletes into world champions. What I want is each participant to take something even more important away from their time with me--a positive memory that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. If not a single kid can recount my technique for heel hooks, or a pre-comp ritual I shared, but they leave with a smile and say they had a blast, then I've done my job. (Of course I want them to remember something! But I'll settle for a smile.)
We as professional athletes have been given a great opportunity to help shape the climbers of future generations, not only in ability but attitude as well. PCI clinics are a great medium for teaching, and a really fun chance for kids to not only learn from, but to just hang out and climb with their heroes.
I thoroughly enjoy working with kids. This is something I plan on continuing to do for as long as someone wants to learn from me, because honestly by teaching I learn just as much, if not more.