Why I Volunteer
by Sue Carkner
There are many benefits to volunteering for parents. For me, as the mom of pre-teens and a teenager, the biggest benefit is the chance to be part of their world. I know what happened at a comp, I know who was judging and organizing and routesetting, and I know the other climbers. When my daughter starts talking to me about climbing, I know what (or who) she’s talking about and I can contribute to the conversation. Not only that, I now have my own friends in the climbing community. Going to a competition is no longer a long, lonely day of standing around a gym hoping for a glimpse of my child on the wall…now I go to the competitions to catch up with my own friends. (I still get to see my child on the wall – the organizers make sure every volunteer gets a break to watch their own child climb). And, perhaps it sounds cheesy, but I like the feeling of contributing to a sport that means so much to my daughter.
Volunteering also helped me develop my own skills. After taking turns at various positions, I realized that I really love judging at the competitions. I still do other jobs from time to time – for example, I often spend at least a few minutes at the registration desk. At a recent comp I learned how to enter the scores into the computer. It’s fun to try out different jobs and develop different skills. But judging is still the volunteer job I love best, and it gives me a little boost of confidence to feel that I’m good at this. I have helped to train many prospective judges, and I’ve come to realize that not everyone likes judging. That’s okay – there are lots of different jobs available, and everyone can try out different volunteer positions to find one that they enjoy, not just at the competitions but also behind the scenes with the OCF.
Climbing is a growing sport, not just in Canada, but around the world. With climbing short-listed as a potential Olympic sport in 2020, we can expect more youth to enter climbing and competitions to become larger for the foreseeable future. It takes volunteers to make the sport run smoothly, and I strongly urge parents of young climbers to help improve your child’s competitive experience by getting involved! You won’t regret it, I promise. And hey, I wouldn’t lie to you – I’m a judge.