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Wall that opens doors: a (climbing) wall built in a church basement has brought church and community together.

As contradictory as it may seem, Calvin Church, North Bay, Ontario, has built a wall to open doors. This wall, however, is a special wall located on the lower level of the church building. It is the Climbing Wall, built as part of the church's expansion project. It was completed at the end of 1995 and introduced to the public in the spring.

Imagine, a plywood wall 12 metres across and 3.5 metres high. The surface is not completely flat -- there are areas of relief where the wall comes out in an incline toward the climber, creating interesting corners to climb around. Numerous rocks of various sizes are securely attached to the wall with a bolt and T-nut system.

The object is to traverse the wall from one side to the other. There is more lateral than vertical movement. Technically, this type of climbing wall is called a bouldering wall. Routes can be set up to make the way easy for a beginner or difficult for the more technical and accomplished climber.

One of the visionaries of the wall project is Marty Molengraaf, Calvin's minister and an active participant of the North Bay Climbing Club. He points out that, although the wall may be located in the church, it is a community project.

The club's membership is a mixture of ages and professions ranging from students to doctors from the community. Financing came from Calvin, service organizations, individual donations and a government grant.

Calvin centred its goalsetting on being a caring church with a focus on youth. The wall lends itself to both objectives. From the outset of instruction, and through their personal-best challenges, climbers develop five skills: cognitive, trust, communication, problem-solving, self-esteem and self-confidence. Building on these five skills, climbing can enhance the development of relationships and the resolution of conflict.

The sport is new, attractive and gives young people a sense of living on the edge -- and, yet, it is safe. Insurance regulations require the presence of certified instructors whenever the wall is open. Climbing is not a free-for-all activity. It requires instruction, guidance, support and training. When these things come together, climbing is an enjoyable and rewarding recreational activity.

The wall has opened doors to the community and become a favourite gathering place for climbers and spectators alike.
COPYRIGHT 1996 Presbyterian Record
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Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Dan O'Neil
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Date:Dec 1, 1996
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