12.29.2020 Holiday Adventure Series: Educating and Climbing

I have been an educator for 15 years. I have been a climber for 3.  These parts of my identity have struck an unexpected synergy in 2020.

My journey as a climber is pretty non-traditional. Later than most, I started climbing in my mid-thirties. I also experienced a hefty injury early on in my development. Returning to climbing after this injury was a mental and physical roller coaster, with paralyzing fear 4 feet off the ground, and celebration of small accomplishments like learning to repel off Queen Vic, a gorgeous Sedona desert tower.  It is these small wins that have allowed me to return to the passion that brought me to the sport in the first place.

The dichotomy of fear and unrelenting passion I have learned as a climber transcends to my work as a seasoned educator. 2020 has asked more of educators than ever before.  The COVID  pandemic highlights the foundational role schools play in our society. As an educational leader, I have been brought to tears countless times as I see the teachers and support staff, at times paralyzed by their own fear, find a way to  show up for our students and our community. There is no road map to educate during a pandemic. Yet, educators rise up. Learning new technology, delivering meals, advocating for equity, innovating to continue to reach all students, and so much more.

Adrenaline as required by urgency has carried many educators forward, but without self-care this is not sustainable. For me, the outdoors is where I am best able to pause, reflect, and recharge.

During 2020 I have spent many days in the comfort of the limestone climbs at The Pit. This is the ultimate local crag and is accessible year round, although be ready for an icy approach in the winter.

I  carved out a few trips to Jacks Canyon and Hobo Jungle. Jacks and Hobo are climbing candy stores  with climbs that accommodate a range of abilities.

At both the school and the crag I am challenged, activated, and humbled. The knowledge, trust, and teamwork needed to tackle fear of the unknown are mirrored in these arenas. As is the peace and awe that are found when pausing to look over the trees during a repel, or when learning is ignited in a student across a screen or under a mask.  And so, I may not be Lynn Hill, but  I will continue to return to the rock to find peace, tension, and lessons that fortify me as a climber and an educator.

Written by board secretary Whitney Owens (who is also the new Camp Verde School Principal)