Summer Camps at OTB

Summer is finally here! And here at Oaktown Boulders, that means Youth Summer Camps! This is our first summer here in the Artthaus building and it’s been a huge blessing to be able to serve the neighborhood by offering youth summer camps to the local families.

Growing up, I remember that I spent most of my summers watching tv and playing video games inside the house. I never got the opportunity to go to summer camps like a lot of the other kids, and as an adult, I realized that I missed out on so many experiences that other kids had. And that’s why I am so passionate and excited about Oaktown Boulders this summer- with this space, I can now give this opportunity to more kids that are just like me when I was growing up here in Oakland.

We’ve completed two week long summer camps so far this year and we still have a few more to go (click here to sign up). Summer camp runs the entire day 9am-3pm (5pm for those families that need it) and goes everyday from Monday-Thursday. You can also get more information here. Some of the activities that we do at camp include climbing, obstacle courses, speed drills, balance games, and much more. Through all of these activities, the goal is to give kids the opportunity to learn and challenge themselves. We work on facing their fears, embracing challenges, overcoming obstacles, learning from failures, working with other, and loving ourselves.

Quick shoutout to all of those who have been so supportive of us, from my family, to my friends who I have met through climbing, to my church community—you all have given so generously and we wouldn’t be able to serve all these kids without you. You all deserve a post of it’s own, but I know that’s not why you gave. Thank you all so much.

Now, here are some pictures from our first two weeks of camp!

Grand opening party

Last Saturday’s Grand Opening party for Oaktown Boulders was the first time many of my friends and family found out that I was opening a gym.

Throughout all the many steps it took to get to the Grand Opening of OTB, I was hesitant to tell anyone about what I was doing. There were the very real fears of ‘what if it doesn’t work out and everyone sees me fail’, and ‘what if people think it’s a bad idea’, but there was also something more deeply rooted than that. Climbing means so much to me and sharing it is so personal that my biggest fear of all was, ‘what if I offer the best part of myself to the world — and no one wants it?’

Creating what is now Oaktown Boulders, I had a lot of ways to distract myself with the tasks that had to get done to build the gym. Now that it was all done and I had to expose it to the world, there was nothing left to hide behind.

When the first guests — Nick and Warren — arrived, I was nervous and full of anxious excitement. Though you may not have realized it at the time, your enthusiasm for the space really meant a lot to me, and gave me a huge sense of relief.

As the night continued and more and more of you showed up, your support, excitement, and encouragement slowly eroded my anxiety. You all totally blew away my expectations by donating $1,000 for our kids programs and I felt so humbled that you came from all over the peninsula to show your support.

I had come into the night full of unknowns, and thanks to you, I left feeling hope for the future. Hope for creating a space that will make everyone feel welcome, hope for building a community that will support one another, and hope for learning how to just have fun together.

Here’s me talking about the journey of building this gym. I’m wearing what Michelle calls my “fancy” shirt because I always wear it when I want to look nice.

Here’s me talking about the journey of building this gym. I’m wearing what Michelle calls my “fancy” shirt because I always wear it when I want to look nice.

Thanks to everyone who came and climbed!

Thanks to everyone who came and climbed!

Furry friends are welcome too!

Furry friends are welcome too!

Shoutout to Nick: our first guest of the night and future Olympian rock climber.

Shoutout to Nick: our first guest of the night and future Olympian rock climber.

Story behind OTB

Hi, my name is Alex.

I’ve been climbing for over 9 years now.

One of the first things that got me hooked on rock climbing was how easy the sport made it to see progress every time I stepped into the gym. It felt like I was getting physically stronger every time. What I quickly came to realize was that the progress was actually coming from the fact that climbing involves much more than just raw physical strength. Realistically, people don’t get drastically stronger within a day, but the lessons that rock climbing taught me could be learned within 30 minutes—I would see myself be able to climb something by the end that I didn’t even think was possible at the beginning. So even though I started climbing with the notion of getting stronger, I started having to learn all those other lessons climbing had to teach me—though I barely realized what was happening at the time.

I was forced to learn this through many challenges that climbers face- plateaus, injuries, frustration, etc. Through these setbacks, I started doing my research about all the different aspects of climbing.

Sure, there was the physical aspect that I expected. But there was also the mental aspect. The technical aspect. The body awareness aspect. The movement aspect. The rest aspect. The community aspect.

To become a better climber, I needed to get better all of these things. There simply was no way around it, because climbing exposes your weaknesses and tells it to your face. If you don’t rest, your next session will feel more tiring. If you aren’t aware of your body movements, each move will feel desperate and you won’t know if you can do it again. If you don’t know exactly where to place your hands and your feet, you’ll make something 3x harder for yourself than you need to.

I began to become obsessed with learning anything and everything about climbing. This led me to becoming a route setter at my local gym. And then a youth coach for the competitive team.

As I was growing and learning all of these lessons that climbing was teaching me, my life around me was also changing. The climate was changing, the political scene in our country was changing, my personal life was changing. But even as the world was changing all around me, climbing was the one constant.

No matter what kind of chaos my world felt like it was in- I could show up at the climbing gym or the local crag and everything else would just fade away. In this period of time when I was climbing, nothing else really seemed to matter- I could just focus on climbing this one problem. And the rest of the world didn’t matter for that moment.

In this process, climbing evolved into becoming something more than just learning how to become a better climber. Climbing taught me about patience, grit, persistence, struggles, success, happiness, focus, and much more.

Some people might look at climbing as a distraction. What does it really do to change or make an impact on the world? What translatable skills can you actually learn from successfully getting to the top of a rock? For me, it’s taught me so many things- like how to have grace with myself. How to have patience. How to learn from others. How to listen. But for you, it can be completely different. I can’t really tell you what your journey will look like. What challenges and lessons climbing has in store for you. What weaknesses it’s waiting to expose. You have to find out for yourself.

For me, my climbing journey has been all about growing and learning. And even though I just learned about the term “growth mindset”, I feel like climbing has been trying to teach me this the entire time.

This is the reason behind Oaktown Boulders. Its purpose is to create a space where we can all grow and learn together. A safe space where anyone can come and be themselves. A judgement free space where everyone is welcome and we recognize that everyone is somewhere along their own journey. A space that doesn’t rob others of their opportunity to grow. A space with resources for those that are trying to become better climbers. A space that will in turn make the world a better place.

Come join me as I continue on this journey.