Seattle Union Gospel Mission Movement Event (7/15 & 7/26)


Here’s a great recap of our most recent event from one of our awesome Movement Team Leaders, Ryan Casella (aka “Scruffy”):

August 19th was another marvelous Movement Event. Thanks to the generosity of Seattle Bouldering Project we were able to host Seattle Union Gospel Mission. Their Program focuses on recovery through discipline and physical exertion, usually in the form of running. Team Mission was a little older than our typical movement groups. We weren’t going to let something like age stop us from spreading the gospel of climbing.

As with most first-time climbers, they entered the gym with a mixture of excitement, hesitation and anxiety. As soon as the waivers were finished and the climbing shoes emerged, the excitement started building amongst the group. A few expressed concerns due to their age or past life choices. They didn’t think climbing was an activity for them. Luckily Vertical Generation fully believes climbing is for all. Our amazing volunteers were there to reassure them of that.

The group made it downstairs where name games, limbering up, and snacking happened. The Fig Bars, graciously donated by Nature’s Bakery, were a big hit. They were a perfect match for a group constantly on the move but health conscious as well. After a brief safety briefing we were off to pull on some plastic.

It was instant love. Not five minutes passed before a few adventurous new climbers were chugging through green and red routes. Thankfully Friction Labs has our back with the best chalk on the market. It was a sweltering day for Seattle, nearly 80°, and these first timers were going hard. There wasn’t a dry shirt in the group. As always Friction Labs kept us going strong and dry, hooking us up with some . It became so crucial for these new climbers that even when challenged to a no hands climb everyone chalked up first.

There was little down time for the first hour of climbing and even less for the second. These new climbers were hooked. By the time we were about to break for food even the most hesitant of the group was working with the volunteers to find one more send before the break.

As we gathered to discuss the day things departed from the ordinary movement. Who knew adults in recovery would have a very different perspective than our typical youth demographic? Though the reasons were different, the broad strokes were the same. Every Movement group starts with hesitant reservations. But today it was brought on by new hurdles, like age and substance abuse. The group was concerned that they couldn’t physically hang with the Vertical Generation crew. Thankfully we have the best volunteers in the world. Between the beta and the endless encouragement Team Mission succeeded gloriously.

Some of the highlights from the group were topping out, sending projects, and the general support they felt from each other and us. Such support was something they considered hard to find these days. To gain a real perspective of the day though you only needed to hear the common low point from Team Mission’s self-reporting. They were bummed that so many people weren’t able to attend today. For a few of them it was a new goal to strive for, for others a reminder of what true support from strangers felt like, for one it was just the proof that age didn’t mean new things were off the table. Across the board the main takeaway was drive. Climbing with Vertical Generation offered them a reminder that there are new and beautiful things in life. Wonderful experiences they can’t even imagine yet, things that make sobriety worth all the effort.

Drive is also something we need to thank our volunteers for. It takes a special kind of person to spend a spectacular PNW day inside with Vertical Generation. We hope they all are able to take the stoke from Team Mission and make their own strides. As one of our volunteers put it: “it’s like falling in love with climbing all over again.”

Seattle Bouldering Project

Nature’s Bakery

KIND Snacks

Friction Labs