When we built an addition on to the Hayward Wesleyan Church, I knew that I eventually wanted to install a bouldering/rock wall along the back wall in the new, large programming room. However, I didn’t know how to go about accomplishing such a task. I do now!

Here is how I requisitioned a bouldering/rock wall for my children and youth ministry:

1. I got in touch with smart people.

I made two initial phone calls to get the ball rolling.

The first phone call was to a rock climbing gym in Duluth, MN that had a bouldering wall. I wanted to know what the height limitation of a bouldering wall was. I did not want to have to have the students secured in harnesses. I just wanted the students to be able to jump on the wall and climb. The person I talked to was very helpful. He told me that the general rule of thumb for those who are bouldering is to climb no higher than one’s shoulders. This became one of our rules. I also wanted to know how to build one. Basically he told me that heavy-duty plywood, the handholds themselves, and a crashpad were the main ingredients for an indoor rock wall. He gave me some information on what companies to research and then I thanked him for his helpful information.

The second phone call was to our insurance company. They love questions like this because they get paid more to insure our church for more things! I asked what they needed from me to insure something like this. She told me to create a proposal that included what I wanted to do, how it would be built, what it would look like, how would it be managed, and how it would be secured when it wasn’t in use. Here is a copy of that proposal.

2. Then I started to share my idea with people.

I needed to start informing key people as to what I was thinking about. I had no idea, yet, what something like this would cost, so this wasn’t any kind of formal proposal, but rather just sharing a dream about something fun.

  • I talked about it with our pastoral staff.
  • I mentioned it briefly in one of my reports to the board.
  • I talked with a couple of contractor friends who I knew really liked rock climbing.
  • I shared the idea with most of my children and youth ministry leaders.
  • And I even shared it with a few students, who thought it was a great idea!

This stage took the longest. In fact, nothing happened for almost 3 years since my initial idea. During that three years, a local sports camp shut down and I was able to get all of their rock wall handholds for free! Super cool. I was also able to get some foam padding for the ground for a really, really cheap rate.

3. Formal Proposal

I had acquired the handholds, the mats, and the expertise to manage the wall, now it was time to formally request permission from our church board and trustees to move forward. Since I had been sort of talking about a rock wall for over 3 years, most of the people on the board weren’t surprised to hear me ask for permission. I think they probably thought they had already given me permission. One man on the board asked if it was a good thing to do in the room or not, seeing how it’s going to be a permanent fixture in the room. I didn’t even have to say anything. Another board member asked him if his two grandsons would enjoy climbing on it. Once that thought was put in his head, he readily agreed that it was a good idea and that kids would probably have lots of fun with it!

Because I was planning on using budgeted money to pay for the building materials (structural cost and labor), it was just a matter of obtaining board and trustee permission. The vote was unanimous.

4. Building the Wall

With permission secured, it was on to getting our contractor scheduled to do it. This took a while because Hayward was experiencing a surge in new construction and remodeling since the economic downturn. I was finally able to pin our contractor down to a date in February 2014. They pulled their gear into the Main Street Theatre room and went to work.

 

It turned out great!

We put some rules on the wall to govern how to use the bouldering/rock wall.