Okay, I admit, I was a bit skeptical about taking an outdoor, inherently risky activity and turning it into a safe, indoor sport. I’m not a climber, but as a fisherman, it seemed a bit like taking the experience of fishing a mountain stream for wild trout and moving it to a swimming pool inside a mall.

But the kids love our local climbing gym, and it’s proven to be a great, physical activity, especially when we’re short on time and good weather. Still…a competition? Skyla said she wanted to compete in “Sendfest,” which I knew almost nothing about. She persisted and ignored any attempts on my part to dismiss it.

So…I caved. Last weekend I took her to the competition, and what an experience it turned out to be. Teams from all over the region descended on Island Rock Gym, and the vibe was pure fun. Skyla and her buddies joined the fray and spent the entire afternoon absorbed in solving route problems, sweating and smiling. It might not be “real” rock climbing, but it is something good. And I’m all for that.