An Open Letter from Coach Matt Skinner

With all the changes our society is going through, it’s important for youth development programs such as summer camps to continue serving young people and their families.

Summer camp is supposed to be fun, there’s no doubt. In fact, one of the first questions parents ask as they’re picking up their child is “did you have fun?!” The answer’s almost always a resounding “yes!” Summer camps are generally pretty good at “fun”.

But there’s a greater value to summer camps than just being fun. They’re a place for personal growth.

Campers learn the value of working with others. They learn the value of building meaningful relationships, appreciating respect, and developing decision-making skills. All of these life skills nurture independence and confidence, building a foundation which they’ll use to grow for the rest of his life.

Summer camps are an opportunity for children to be exposed to the best of the human character. A place where they can make friends in person rather than online. A place where children are encouraged to try new things and to challenge their understanding of who they are and who they want to become.

Each and every camp is different. Yet they all share a common goal: to support the development of our youth. They are wholesome, inclusive environments that add a spark of magic to a child’s summer. And each individual’s experience at camp is unique. Kids will learn from a full range of emotions and human experiences including homesickness, friendship, disagreements, team work, frustrations, jubilant success, and more.

The world needs the next generation of leaders to have a better understanding of each other’s views, beliefs, and cultures. We need people who can communicate, and people who can compromise. People who do what they say they’re going to do because they know others are counting on them.

Summer camp is a special type of community where this can happen.

As the Director of Member Experience at Black Rock Bouldering Gym, it’s my responsibility to lead the development of our youth programs with a higher goal of preparing our kids to be productive, independent, and capable young adults. To thrive in any capacity. Our summer camp offers a way for kids to start developing these skills in the best possible environment.

I’m always a little sad when our summer camp program ends, but I’m inspired by the fact I had the opportunity to help steer our campers in the direction of becoming healthier and more independent, curious, confident, and capable people. And I consider myself lucky to have the chance to catch up with them when they come back into the gym during the school year.

If ever there was a time when the world needed a generation of future leaders who understood the complex nuances of living in a rapidly-changing community, appreciating the value of others, and being open to experiencing things differently — that time is now.


Coach Matt Skinner is the Director of Member Experience at Black Rock Bouldering Gym. A Phoenix (and North32) native, he’s been competing in sports all his life and coaching for most of it as well. A natural athlete, Matt uses aspects from a variety of sports to ensure his students are building sound fundamentals of physical fitness across the board. Matt’s been climbing for years and believes bouldering is one of the best ways to stay fit while socializing, problem solving, and training physically. To learn more about Matt’s summer camp program at Black Rock Bouldering Gym visit camp.