Note of Caution – Once you finish reading this article you will most likely have to change your travel plans.
Living in Guatemala, my son’s school schedule revolves around the Southern Hemisphere. This means that they only get two weeks off for summer.
For years, us parents have been working with our private school to change their schedule to be more international friendly since most of the kids are from all over the world. Finally this year they gave us six weeks off for summer, from mid-June to the end on July.
I was so glad that my sons were finally going to be able to experience what summer camps in the US are like.
We used to take advantage of those two weeks by visiting my family. But, since my parents moved to the Metro NYC area, New Jersey specifically, our options for fun grew exponentially!
Summer Camps and Vacation Plans – How Everything Changed
It all started when I had already prepared the whole itinerary for the trip– or so we thought.
My 14-year-old son was ready and so excited to go on a mini-camp program for first-time sleep-away campers. We signed him up for one week, but he did so great that he would have liked to stay for the whole 8 weeks that it lasted.
On the other hand, my 8-year-old son decided he wanted to go to the YMCA travel camp. This was his first time at a US camp, with over twenty kids in a group.
Aside from those week-long camps for my kids, I had also planned about two more weeks of activities for the whole family.
But then I discovered Gravity Vault.
Why Rock and Indoor Climbing
My husband and sons are all into climbing. They have been practicing it for at least five years. Because of it, a couple of years ago we ended up in Siurana, Spain, one of the best climbing spots according to some of the most recognized climbers of the world. It is one of those places where you could live for years and not have to repeat the same route twice.
In Guatemala, even though there are places to go climbing, it isn’t super accessible. The closest climbing gym is 1.5 hours away from our house.
Then a few months ago the Guatemalan Climbing Federation opened a gym in our town. So now we have a full climbing community in our town. My sons gladly joined the club.
The facilities aren’t that great, but they are good enough for practicing and the climbers have become a close-knit community. The coach, on the other hand, is amazing, truly one of the most inspirational people we can get.
So before going on our trip to the States, it crossed my mind to see if there was a place nearby where they could climb.
That is how I found Gravity Vault and immediately got in contact with Andres. He helped me figure out all the options for kids, especially in the summer months. That’s when plans changed!
The options were almost endless:
- Private Classes
- Team Practices
- Weekly Camps (certain weeks only)
- Climbing on your own
I ended up rearranging most of our plans, the only thing that stayed was the camps. Everything else was either moved or canceled so my sons could spend as much time as possible at the gym.
For my youngest son, I booked private classes and training sessions with the team. He was also enrolled in the two-hour break camp.
My older son got signed up for a one-week-long rock climbing class and one team practice.
Expectation vs. Reality – How different was the gym from what was advertised on the website
My family and I have been to some cool gyms during our travels. Some of them have been designed by the top climbers in the world, such as Chris Sharma, Adam Ondra, and Alex Honnold.
We thought we knew what to expect, but walking into Gravity Vault, it was like nothing we’ve seen before. It was impressive and immense!
Gravity Vault is a chain of gyms in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
The one in Hoboken was the one closest to my parents’ house. The gym has two floors, one for climbing with ropes and one for bouldering.
There was a ton of people there but due to its huge size, it never felt cramped or crowded. This also allowed my kids to climb the whole time they were there without having to wait for their turn.
The biggest issue at the federation gym back home is that there is only one wall. So you spend more time waiting than climbing. Even with a great coach you never get the most of your time.
Camp Rocks Climbing Camp
This is the one week camp that my oldest son got enrolled in.
Three of the five days are spent between climbing sessions and games at the actual gym.
If the weather allows it, the other two days are spent at the rock and an obstacle course. Sadly, when my son was there, it rained during the second day of rock climbing. So they spent the whole day at the obstacle course. They also went to another Gravity Vault gym which had much harder bouldering walls.
This particular camp is for ages 7 – 14, and all levels. My son was able to connect with other kids that climb at his level. It helped them all push themselves.
After this amazing experience we decided that during the winter break, we will be going back. They want to do some climbing at that gym on December for a few weeks.
We still don’t know what the schedule for the Hoboken Gravity Vault will be like in December. But we are hoping they coincide without holiday trip.
If you or your kids are interested in rock climbing I would highly recommend Gravity Vault. They have something for all levels, from complete newbie to expert.
We love being part of the universal climbing community and this is one great place to fit right in.
General information for Gravity Vault
Each of their facilities is custom designed and has its own unique layout. You won’t see the same walls anywhere else.
- Key Holes
- Climbing Walls
- Rope Stations
- Extensive Bouldering – Dynamic Lead Climbing
- Cardiovascular and Strength Training Areas
- Lounges – Pro Shops
- Private Party Rooms
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