New Beginnings

Ever since I was a kid, I have loved climbing: trees, cars, buildings... any object that I thought could be a fun challenge. I remember hanging out in trees as a kid. They made the best hiding spots in Hide-and-Seek because nobody ever looked up. I like that even when I climb something today, it still brings that child-like joy out of me.

I remember my first time stepping into a rock climbing gym. It was in Frankfurt, Germany with my youth pastor and one other kid my age. I was a freshman in high school. I loved the smell of the chalk. I loved the coarse, dry feeling between my fingers. I loved giving the call and response to let my youth pastor know I was ready to climb. The first climb, was relatively easy and I topped out. The next climb I was feeling confident, so I shot up the wall like a jack rabbit running from a fox. I got about 3/4 of the way up the wall super fast and at the first difficult part, my legs started to flutter up and down and my forearms got insanely tired! I had to let go and be slowly guided back to the floor. Though it wasn't a success, I was hooked on indoor climbing!

There are two parts of climbing that I want to bring to my town Lakeland: community and challenge. Climbing, though done solo, is rarely a solo activity. I love the conversations and team building that occurs with climbers as they watch someone climb and offer suggestions or talk on the floor about their strategy or even offer ideas about how to do a difficult move. I want to see people building up people in a way that only climbing offers. Most gyms breed individualism: you go do your own weights or a class and leave on your own. Climbing breeds community. I love the friendly competition that occurs when one climber tries to do the same route faster than another. It breeds a healthy competition and a natural drive to get better together. Not only that, but it is active problem solving as you figure out the most efficient way to move your body up the wall.

I am excited for this new beginning for Lakeland. As we grow, I want Lakeland to experience the same joy of climbing as I have had and hope that we can make a better community through our shared victories.

--Benjamin Arnold

Drew Arnold