Pool provides off-the-wall activity

Oak Bay Rec launches aquatic climbing wall with help of a donation from Rotary Club

Janet Barclay

Janet Barclay

Aquatic wall climber extraordinaire Samuel Kessner earned the honour of being first up the new equipment at Oak Bay Rec.

The aquatic climbing wall officially opened on Family Day when Kessner clambered to the top and tore the ceremonial ribbon off.

“That really made his day,” said Dr. Jim Force, who first attempted the feat. Force earned first crack at the wall as president of the Rotary Club of Oak Bay that funded the $13,000 needed to get the “wish list” item for Recreation Oak Bay.

“(Climbing) is an activity where you have to be thoughtful. It builds their confidence and physical strength and ability,” said Force, who holds a PhD in education.

“It’s really self directed and makes failure OK,” he adds, noting that a fall means a splash and a return to the back of the line to try again. The lineup when it opened Feb. 9 indicates early success.

“I saw this huge lineup full of anticipation to get into the pool. They couldn’t wait to get in there,” said Janet Barclay, manager of recreation services. “It was really neat to see it in action … the mental and physical effort.”

For her the packed pool represented a small victory in the ongoing battle with “screen time” in the recreation world. It’s a battle Force feels Recreation Oak Bay, and the pool in particular, fights well.

“They have a combination of structured programs and the unstructured play,” Force said. “Play is a really important part of (a child’s) development.”

The wall is designed to maintain a little mystery for the regular pool-user with a four-panel system that allows for alterations, changing up hand and foot holds. It’s just one of the considerations that went into the purchase.

“We are a smaller pool. It really fit well and doesn’t take up a lot of real estate,” Barclay said. “We have a range of ages and abilities and it’s challenging for everybody.”

For more information on swim times, call Recreation Oak Bay at 250-595-7946 or visit  recreationoakbay.ca