Hangar family member Nile Harwood-Jenkins has been using his climbing as a way to enjoy the United States for the last eight years, and gets to encourage kids’ passion and sense of adventure into the bargain through his work at Camp America. He told us more.

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I’ve been climbing for about ten years and while my current grade changes depending on the type of climbing I’m doing (I’m a fan of trad and winter mixed rock and ice) I’m around V5-V7 when it comes to bouldering.

I first got involved in the Camp America program during my first year of university. One of my room mates had just come back from a summer camp and had a lot of great stories. From that moment on it was no brainer; given my interest in outdoor adventurous activities and meeting new people, plus my love for travelling, summer camp sounded like the place for me!

Since summer 2010 I have been working (and I use that term loosely) at Trail’s End Camp, located in North Eastern Pennsylvania, and the experience has been life changing. As I’ve taken on more responsibility and discovered more about my skills and passions I’ve grown in ways I never could have imagined. Camp has developed my personal skills, technical knowledge and even inspired me to decide on teaching as a career.

Into the wild

This year was a particularly special summer. It’s rare for anyone to work at Camp for eight successive seasons, especially when you’re travelling from abroad and juggling jobs! So I was super-excited to have the opportunity to head out on the king of Camp trips – leading a group of forty 15-16 year olds as we spent four days hiking through Southern Utah’s national parks, four days rafting 100 miles on 40+ rapids of the Colorado River and two days touring Park City and the Winter Olympic facility.  WOW!

Up, up and away

My climbing experience has really helped me prolong my work at camp. It develops such diverse skills; interacting with people, problem solving, a passion for continuous development. Plus every climber loves a bit of shiny gear. Having a working technical knowledge of rope systems and high ropes courses both inside and out of camp has allowed me take on other work/travel opportunities and  instructor jobs, including a canopy zip tour guide position in India!

Never stop exploring

My top tip for kids trying climbing for the first time would be to stick with it. Climbing is more of a way of life than your other typical sports, and because of that it’s easy to hit a plateau in performance or to feel overwhelmed. But keep going – the pay offs are enormous and about more than fitness, strength and flexibility. My personal climbing quest has taken me to places around the world that I may never even have heard of, let alone visited. And when I think of how it has helped me grow and influenced my decisions, why wouldn’t you want to get involved?

My personal climbing ambition is probably more generic than most. There’s not really a specific list of mountains I would like to tick, or routes/problems that I have to finish. My personal ambition is to get outside more, have fun, enjoy climbing (boulders, rock, mountains or ice) and hope it takes me to more exciting destinations in the future!