Youth Rock Climbing:
Grand river rocks
Picture regular counselling... but instead of talking in an office, we're rock climbing together, building trust, working on life skills side by side. This is about building self confidence, practicing mindfulness and focus, discovering strengths, talking about life, and coming up with practical solutions for home and school.
What do I need to know?
What is this all about?
Indoor Rock climbing is a fun way to challenge yourself physically and mentally. In our session together, we will use various adventure therapy practices to build confidence, overcome obstacles, practice life skills and discuss what is going on in your life. Each session will be tailored to focus on individual and family goals. There's never any pressure to talk or climb more than you feel comfortable with.
When rock climbing, youth often experience success, encouragement and trust as we both challenge ourselves together. This time climbing allows for an opportunity to practice managing risks, breaking goals down into small steps, building self esteem, and working through fear. It also helps with understanding 'big feelings' that can come up in climbing and in life. Rock climbing is all about facing challenges and problem solving. We will engage in activities to work on specific life skills, utilizing all the benefits of risk, community, exercise, conversation, connection with body, understanding our emotions, and facing challenges together.
We will spend some time talking together but a lot of that time you will also be climbing! Our therapists are belay-certified (this means we will keep you physically safe) and also certified counsellors (this means we will take care of your emotional safety). During our time together we will decide (along with caregivers) if we want our sessions to include bouldering, belay top-roping, and/or aut0-belays.
Check out this video for a quick tour of Grand River Rocks and an introduction to rock climbing.
How do I sign up?
The climbing gym is often loud and busy, which actually provides a great opportunity to work on focus, communication, and impulse control. If less busy and/or quieter times are better for you, please let us know, or generally book on weekdays before 5pm. We also have access to the gym in off-hours (6:30am - noon) so that may be a good time for a youth who requires a quieter or more private session.
Once you've signed up, keep on reading below to find answers to (hopefully) all of your questions.
What do I need to do before going?
You will need to fill out an online waiver specific for the Grand River Rocks Kitchener climbing gym. Anyone who is coming with you will also need to fill out a waiver (even if they aren't climbing):
Next, the two forms you will need to complete for Get Out Adventure Therapy are:
1) Informed Consent Form (know what you’re signing up for)
2) Intake Form (help me get to know you)
These two forms will be emailed to you after you book online. Please fill these forms out at least 24 hours before your session. By filling these forms ahead of time, you ensure that we use our time together for climbing not paperwork and we can plan ahead to make sure that you get what you want out of counselling. Please contact us if you do not receive these forms after checking your junk mail.
Where do I go?
We will meet at the front desk of Grand River Rocks, located at 50 Borden Ave S., in Kitchener, Ontario. Please note, there is a new Grand River Rocks location in Waterloo, but this is NOT where your session will be. Feel free to check it out on your own time though!
How do I get I there?
There is plenty of parking at the climbing gym if you come by car. The nearest ION stop is Borden Station and there are lots of bus stops nearby. There is bike parking on the side of the building closest to the main entrance.
Please note, there are steps leading down into the gym. If you have accessibility requirements please contact Grand River Rocks with any accessibility questions.
What do I do when I arrive?
Please arrive at Grand River Rocks (GRR) 15 minutes before your session begins to gather your rental gear from GRR staff so that you are ready to climb. Just let them know you have a session with Brandon (Get Out Adventure Therapy) and they'll set you up with everything you need (harness, climbing shoes, chalk bag). Please make sure you change and use the washroom at this time so you are ready to begin your session on time.
For your first session only, plan to come 20 minutes early as you will need to complete a climbing safety orientation with GRR climbing staff. This only needs to be completed once.
Brandon will meet you near the front desk. Check out his photo so you can easily recognize him because the gym can be busy. Brandon's work cell phone is 519 721 4465 if you need anything the day of your session (but please note he won't be able to answer phone calls or texts when in a session).
What should I wear and bring?
It's recommended to wear comfortable shorts or loose pants, a t-shirt, and maybe a light long sleeve shirt for the winter. The climbing gym is normally kept at a comfortable temperature, but can be very warm in the summer.
You are welcome to use your own clean, closed-toe shoes for climbing, but there are climbing shoes available free of charge for your session, along with all other climbing gear needed. Feel free to bring your own gear if you have it.
Please make sure you have a snack and water bottle with you. There is a water fountain, storage cubbies, and snack food available in a vending machine on site.
Is it safe?
Indoor Rock Climbing is dangerous and it is important for you to be familiar with both Grand River Rock’s waiver form, and the form from Get Out Adventure Therapy. Please familiarize yourself with these, and bring up any concerns or accommodations you require to ensure your own safety (or that of your youth).
The informed consent for Get Out Adventure Therapy outlines the unique risks of Adventure Therapy including physical risks, interactions with the public, and no guarantee of confidentiality in this form of therapy (given the public spaces we use). It is important for you to speak with your healthcare provider to determine if indoor rock climbing is safe for the youth to participate in. Please let Brandon know of any concerns you have, or accommodations we can take to make our time safer.
What will the session be like?
Each climbing session is designed specifically for your needs, goals, and how your body is feeling that day. With that said, generally we will meet near the front desk, and your parent/caregiver is welcome to find a seat in the public sitting areas.
You and your therapist will find a semi-private space to stretch and do a check-in before we climb. This might include talking about how the week has been, what kind of stuff has been challenging, safety, and what type of climbing you would like to do that day.
During the climbing portion of the session, we will be talking, and engaging in simple exercises to work on life skills (like mindfulness, discomfort tolerance, frustration, communication, etc). There are times we will climb side-by-side, and other times where I will be belaying or encouraging you from below.
The session ends with us cooling down together, talking about how the session went and what we should focus on during the next session. We will then reconnect with the caregiver, and you will have the choice to share about your session, if you wish.
What about my parents/caregivers?
Parents/Caregivers are asked to allow this one-on-one time with Brandon to build trust and create space to talk about life with someone outside of the family unit whenever possible. Parents/Caregivers are welcome to wait in the seating areas during the session (seating areas can fill up during busy times) or return 5 minutes before the end of the session. There are also picnic tables to work at and wifi available.
Occasionally caregivers will be invited to come out on the climbing floor to watch youth from up close, take pictures, and celebrate the hard work the youth has been doing.
There are also optional caregiver written reflections, to write a letter to the youth during our sessions regarding the theme of the day (for example: reflecting on the youth’s strengths and abilities, etc). This can be a powerful experience for caregivers and youth alike.
What does it cost and how do I pay?
A 60 minute session costs $115 and a 90 minute session costs $145. The cost of your adventure therapy session may be covered under group insurance plans. Please talk to Brandon for more information. Brandon is also connected with WSIB, the Victim Quick Response Program, and PROPEL amongst other third party groups.
Payment is required at the end of your session through a number of means. An E-transfer can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Credit or debit cards can be presented in person, and you will only need to present your card once. All future sessions will be automatically and securely billed.
What if I can't make it?
Our cancellation policy is to give a full refund if the cancellation is done 48 hours or more in advance. Cancellations less than 48 hours prior to your session, or no-shows, will be charged 50% of your fee. Life happens, we know, so let us know if you need to reschedule and we will always try and work with you.
What do I need to do after my session?
Directly after your session you are welcome to continue climbing if you are accompanied by an adult that has completed the GRR Adult Waiver and has completed the safety orientation. There are change rooms and showers available if desired.
Depending on if our climbing activity is different than your normal physical exercise, you may feel sore the following day. Make sure to consult with your health care provider if you have any concerns, or have
experienced an injury during your session. Please inform me if you have hurt yourself in any way during your session.
You are welcome to continue booking Adventure Therapy sessions online at your convenience, and pending our availability. As always, if you are having trouble finding session times that match your schedule please write Brandon directly at