As any father will already know, apart from the biological imperative of passing on your valuable genetic material for the Greater Good of Mankind, the other main point of having a child is for them to succeed where you have failed.
Thus, as a VORC (Very Ordinary Rock Climber) it’s only natural that my dream for my first born is for him to succeed in the endeavour of rock climbing where I have failed. From the very first (in fact, as he scrambled out of the womb [at least grade 30, though the grade is unverified as the feat is awaiting a repeat), I have been watching him for early signs of climbing talent, and, of course, encouraging him to pull on at every opportunity.
I quickly realised that equipment would play a central role in nurturing The Boy’s natural climbing talent, and let’s face it, equipment is key to most parenting activities. You can hock almost anything to new and anxious parents, so think of how easy it is to sell them something that is practical, useful and encourages the right behaviour. To prepare the way I have gotten him a harness, a CAMP Bambino, full-body jobby in fetching red and yellow.
For those that don’t have much experience with kids and harnesses, young children need a full body harnesses because they don’t have much in the way of hips to anchor them if they tip upside. (They are also excellent if you like to dehumanise your child by keep them on a leash.)
Now I know some hippy-types may say it’s that at two-and-a-half-year it’s too early for getting my boy into a harness, but to be honest I am more worried that I might already have left it too late. After all, Tiger Woods started playing golf at two, thus six months have already been frittered away, and I am relying on exploiting the boy’s talents to fund my retirement.
So far the signs have been good. The boy seems to enjoy wearing the Bambino around the house, particularly matched with a red fireman’s hat, which is great conditioning for a purpose-made climbing helmet later on and a sure sign I am a responsible parent. Although it hasn’t all been smooth sailing as early on he took an unreasonable dislike to me hanging him from my fingerboard to test the harness’ comfort.
On the subject of comfort, the Bambino doesn’t have any padding, but generally the boy seems to find it very comfortable and hasn’t complained about any ‘Owies’. Perhaps it is because of the cushioning of his puppy fat. At present he refuses to climb more than two metres off the ground, however, he loves using the harness for swings set off a tree branch.
According to the CAMP website the harness is designed for kids three to eight years old (its max size recommendations are: chest size 86cm, leg 64cm and weight 38 kilograms), however, my son is MASSIVE and so it fits him fine despite his relative youth.
Compared to other full-body kids’ harnesses, the Bambino is one of the most adjustable on the market, meaning you will get greater longevity from it as your kid grows (and we all know they grow like weeds on the modern high-calorie diet). It also has just a single attachment point, which keeps tying in simple. The attachment point is nice and high, so that the child always remains upright (or immediately flips the right way up if they do happen to invert). All the adjustment buckles are pre-threaded (although they are loose enough that they can come apart, so always check them, this kind of checking you should already be familiar with as per Parenting 101) and auto-locking, so the harness is very easy to adjust, even when your child is wriggling like an angry piranha.
So far the boy’s talent on rock is not encouraging me to quit my day job, but I am sure that his regime of early mornings, cold showers, rigorous fingerboarding, 1000-chin-up days, Ab Ripper X core workouts and four-hour power-endurance sessions at the gym will soon sort him out. Bring on early retirement.
CAMP is distributed in Australia by Climbing Anchors, the Bambino retails for $74.95.