Changing For The Better
We’ve begun taking steps to be a more positive presence in our community.
First, we’re making our spaces more accessible to those who want to experience climbing but are financially unable to, by dedicating $500,000+ in sponsored access to Brooklyn Boulders starting October 1.
We are also reforming our management team to help create long-term change. You can read a letter to our community from our new Interim CEO here.
Internally, our People team is working to create more equitable processes for growth within our organization that will empower more people of various backgrounds to lead.
We are also hiring and welcoming new, diverse staff to join our culture, where we now give our team members formalized volunteer time off to encourage them to spend time on causes they’re passionate about in their community. We’ve established staff committees as well, so our local team members can be more involved in the decisions that impact them.
In the coming weeks, we’ll roll out new initiatives so that members of the BKB community can impact future club upgrades and community donations. This is just the beginning of the work we’re doing to make BKB more inclusive and climbing more accessible for all.
UNCOVER + UNLEASH
Brooklyn Boulders’ BKBeastmode is a national, partner-based competition set out to uncover the people across all BKB facilities who have chosen to push the needle forward in becoming the most well-rounded humans possible. Challenging teams of two in feats of strength, power, mobility, climbing, and strategy, BKBeastmode aims to break fitness stereotypes, test physical potential, and inspire meaningful human connections.
Already known for its off-the-cuff yet demanding take on holistic fitness, BKBeastmode continues to grow as a premier event that blends community, climbing, art, culture, celebration, and more, in one unforgettable night.
PRIMAL + PARTNER
Humans are social animals. With partners, we are able to develop bold strategies and consistent execution. We see their weaknesses as our strengths and we see their fortitude in our flaws.
We are able to climb harder. Think faster. Endure longer. We are stronger together.
THREE + STAGES
All ages and fitness abilities are welcome to participate. BKBeastmode is divided into three stages: Qualifiers, Semi-Finals, and Finals.
Qualifiers: Held at every BKB facility, participants of all ages and fitness abilities are invited to participate in six different challenges set to mimic elements one might encounter during Finals. Top three teams from local qualifiers — hailing from New York, Chicago, Boston, and Denver — will be invited to Semi-Finals.
Semi-Finals: The top three teams from local qualifiers will be invited to face unknown challenges that cover the gamut of climbing and fitness. From tests of mental agility to physical power output, teams of two will aim to qualify for the top four spots. They will be ready and willing to take on the final round only a few short hours later.
Finals: Through tests of teamwork, communication, physical endurance, and mental agility, the top four teams will tap into their reserves to fight for the ultimate grand prize: $2500 cash and a five-day, all-inclusive trip to Hueco Tanks, Texas–a world-renowned outdoor rock climbing destination
PROVE + YOURSELF
You’re already a Beast. Sometimes it takes lighting a little competitive fire to unleash your human potential. While a smaller percentage of your facility will advance to Semi-finals and then Finals, BKBeastmode is truly about repping your facility with pride, supporting the BKB community, and celebrating your best self on another level.
The fear of the unknown is trumped by the curiosity of our capabilities, and our desire for social interaction is satiated by the bond formed with our training partners.
Weirdly able to marry the worlds of climbing, fitness, and community with art and entertainment, the beauty in the beast is the unwavering and unparalleled connection you feel with your community. As an event that is founded upon our primal, human instincts, BKBeastmode is an innovative, and always mesmerizing, showcase of camaraderie, mental agility, and physical strength. Where other avenues have fallen short in providing a platform for diversity, creativity, and climbing to collide, BKBeastmode thrives.
Every year when Pride comes around I’m reminded of BKB’s support for the LGBTQ community. I would venture to say a higher than average percentage of the staff at BKB are LGBTQ (a testament to both BKB’s promise of cultural diversity and inclusion), yet it never ceases to amaze me the stance BKB chooses to take every year; one of genuine participation and unwavering support.
Gay or straight. Route setter or CEO. The question is never whether or not we’re going to participate in Pride, but rather an emphatic, “OK, guys! It’s April! How are we going to top last year?!” It’s on our national calendar comparable to the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving and celebrated with just as much, if not more, excitement, enthusiasm, and well, pride.
Working together in what most would still consider a “startup culture” can be tough and frustrating at times — there are a lot of voices to be heard, an abundance of ideas, conflicting opinions, and communication spread over multiple channels, time zones, and schedules. It can be difficult for us all to come together and agree on any one, given decision; however, to bring more light to our declaration of love for this time of year, I can confidently say that when Pride comes up, everyone’s response is, “Yep, I got it!”, “No problem, we can do this!”, or “Excited for this year!” Team members devote their personal time to leading initiatives, marketing managers carefully curate the most unique experiences, and creative design teams come up with new swag to top last year’s, month’s in advance.
All this to try and drive home…Pride is a big deal here at BKB.
As a gay man and a BKB employee, I have to take a step back for a second and appreciate my coworkers and BKB as a whole for rallying behind a great cause that has been a very personal experience my whole, entire life. There is no pretense or agenda behind it. It is truly genuine and subtle in it’s support of me.
Check out below what Pride means to our team nationwide and get OUT to Climb and spread the #bkblove this June. — Tim Ryan, National Events Manager for Brooklyn Boulders
Psychologists believe that it’s necessary to put your child in risk to stabilize their mental and emotional wellbeing. Gever Tulley, a founder of Tinkering School, recently gave an entire TED talk about how we fail to prepare our kids for the environment around them by being overly protective:
When it comes to climbing, most incidents are caused from an improper way of handling the equipment – risk that can be effectively managed. The benefits children receive range from learning the importance of responsibility (putting on a harness correctly), interdependence (learning to belay others), trust, communication and a positive attitude.
Climbing can be an intrinsically motivated activity where the child makes her own choice and achieves satisfaction from both the act of choosing and from the opportunity to act upon it. Kids learn to build a mental resilience; they may fail at first, but they learn that if they try again and again, they may be rewarded with success.
David Meyerson, an adolescent psychologist and a consultant for Tenderfoot, explains:
“If children find an activity to be intrinsically motivating, they are more likely to repeat it and succeed at it, which builds their sense of mastery and self-confidence. Ultimately, much is to be gained in terms of a child’s learning and emotional well-being. Rock climbing is one activity that kids typically do not have access to and thus may be an untapped resource for capturing children’s intrinsic motivation.”
In a world where kids are increasingly captivated by screens and technology, it’s even more beneficial to get them mobile and motivated. If your child is already climbing, here are two ways to maximize the experience for their development:
Build skills through climbing
Encourage them to take risks.
This gives your child an opportunity to discover the relationship between effort and success, between success and motivation, and to develop higher self-concept. Tasks with a moderate level of difficulty such as climbing easy routes with an instructor will challenge kids without overwhelming them. Then, it’s important for tasks to increase in difficulty based on the child’s ability, such as climbing more difficult routes or bouldering.
You can challenge children to compete against their own performance in the quantity and quality of their productivity, within a specific time frame or it can be used to increase on-task behavior or decrease inappropriate behavior. There are many problems to conquer on the walls and it’s always a personal challenge to get to complete one route, which can require many tries, before moving onto the next. The long term goal is to teach children to lose gracefully and use defeat as motivation to improve. Eventually children must be encouraged to see “failure” as a positive experience — developing grit.
Viktoriya Gaponski is a membership specialist at Brooklyn Boulders Queensbridge and a founder of Tenderfootnews.com, an app that allows children to discover news & their interests in a safe, curated manner.
If you’re looking for a new activity to challenge your child – try out climbing! Our extensive Youth Programs offer a variety of experiences, from after-school programs to day or week long adventure days to a competitive climbing team. See more information here.
In need of some Thursday #throwback dose of inspiration? Look to pro-climber Tommy Caldwell’s inspiring TED Talk that outlines his captivating journey to where he is today.
He begins his TED Talk by recounting his wild tale of being taken hostage on a climbing trip with his girlfriend at the time, involving machine guns, rifles, a rebel insurgency and six harrowing days of battle as human hostages. At the end of the journey, at the point of starvation, he suddenly was reinvigorated by his survival instincts: he killed his captor to save his group:
“We are capable of so much more than we could ever imagine. But we only find that capacity when pushed against the limit – the unendurable and existential threat. when we think we’re near our breaking point – when in fact, we’re not even close. Yes, I traded the life of one for four that mattered more to me, but within that, I gained a deeper knowledge of what our survival instincts can do.”
Not all of the hostages felt the same. Why, Caldwell posits, do some people come out of these experiences with post-traumatic stress disorder and some others experience post-traumatic growth?
For him, he posits that it was the experiential education and confidence his father gave him that gave him a strong foundation for embracing challenges, taking him on wild & difficult journeys as a child:
“He understood this idea of raising your children with grit – long before it became a parenting buzzword. He believed that you must prepare your children for the path, not the path for your children…The greatest gift that he gave me is that he reframed adversity as adventure and taught me to be bold. He showed me that if we allow ourselves to be exposed to challenge, then that challenge can energize us and show us who we are,”
Hardship was always taught as welcome for character building, and Caldwell’s hardship did not end after the hostage event. In 2011, he chopped of his left finger with a tablesaw and spent two grueling weeks in the hospital. His doctor told him that his finger couldn’t be saved, and that he could no longer be a professional climber.
That is a devastating statement to hear. But Caldwell didn’t accept defeat:
“When I walked out of that hospital a few days later,my finger just a swollen nub, I felt a drive. That drive became a maniacal focus. I started training 14 hours a day, I analyzed everything about how I lived. I honed new strengths, made changes. I searched out challenge in the form of big wall, free-climbing,”
He found a form of freedom in his pursuit of challenges, and in a moment of big wall free-climbing even after all he had gone through, a dream was born:
“Imagine a world where pain and pleasure merge. Where ego disappears. Where awareness grows upward, outward – in all directions. This was a powerful epiphany, and out of that curiosity…. I wondered, how far can I push this? I noticed when I was lost in pursuit, my world was full of wonder and color. It was only when complacency would encroach that it would cloud over.
So I decided I would have to come up with an elevated dream. Something that would completely consume me. And so was born the Dawn Wall project. It started as a spark, an idea. If I were to thought of it as a goal, I surely would have been too overwhelmed and given up. And so, it became a question: could there be a way?”
The rest, as they say, is history. If you were impressed with Caldwell and his Dawn Wall feat before, you may be more inspired by him now than ever.
What challenges are you facing? How can you shape your life, adapt how you live to meet your goals? As a community of climbers, dreamers, artists, entrepreneurs, take these lessons from Caldwell: don’t let anyone define what is impossible. Push yourself to your limits, challenge yourself, persevere and see what dreams can be born.
See the full TED Talk by Tommy Caldwell here:
Got grit? Join the BROOKLYN BEATDOWN competition On October 24th, 2015.