Threshold Hosts NewView Oklahoma’s OWL Camp with Special Guest, Justin Salas!

In February of 2019, NewView Oklahoma reached out to Threshold to see if we would be interested in sponsoring the annual Oklahoman’s Without Limits (OWL) Camp. This is a free camp for kids ages 8-18, who are blind and/or visually impaired. NewView believes that every child deserves to have a summer camp experience, and Threshold couldn’t agree more.  

Threshold recently passed our second year of being open and as we continue to grow, we are constantly analyzing how to better serve our community in a significant way. As a purpose-driven gym, we plan on being a major destination for all abilities. This drive is a key part of our ethos—ensuring everyone feels welcome in an environment where they challenge societal and self-imposed limits. 

OWL Camp climbers with Threshold Member

The idea of working with youth who may not otherwise have opportunities to climb sounded like an experience we couldn’t pass up. But, before bringing the campers in, we needed to setup cross-training with the NewView staff. So, we asked NewView to provide sensitivity training at our staff meeting, and we spent half an hour learning in the classroom, and another half hour blind-folded—working with a sighted buddy to fully immerse ourselves in what it is like to have a visual impairment. Not only did we receive sensitivity training but NewView also shared ways in which we could make our facility more accessible to those with visual impairments. They did this by checking our braille signage for mistakes and walking through the facility sharing simple ways we can orient our guests more appropriately. Similarly, Threshold climbing wall instructors (CWIs), trained NewView staff on how to top-rope / belay and boulder. 

OWL Camper asking Justin Salas about his climbing process.

We wanted Threshold to be the best Camp the kids had experienced this Summer, so we began brainstorming ways to make it memorable. We immediately reached out to Oklahoma’s very own, pro-climber Justin Salas; a friend from Tulsa, Oklahoma who is a World Champion Adaptive Climber with vision loss. Both Justin and his sighted climbing partner, Matthew Frederick were happy to jump on board and bring even more excitement to the Camp.  

Climber on belay on top rope with instructor watching from the ground.

During the event, both Justin and Matthew demonstrated how they work and communicate on the wall, and Justin talked about his journey on earning Gold and Silver medals through the USAC and IFSC. OWL Campers were encouraged to ask questions about his personal journey.  

Justin and Matthew prepping for the climb.

The day of the event, Threshold Members offered their time to volunteer, and we all had the opportunity to collaborate, improve self-esteem, and learn together. For some OWL Campers, this was the first time they had ever climbed. Threshold staff and members watched as many of them reached the tops of the walls and kept coming back for more! 

Threshold Instructor and Member with OWL Campers.

Overall, the NewView staff taught us how to better serve our community. The OWL Campers taught us to push past self-imposed limits while adapting to your surroundings, and Justin taught everyone that if you train hard, and pursue your passion—nothing can stop you. Threshold feels grateful to have just taught and introduced climbing to the next generations of climbers. 

On August 24th, 2019 in partnership with Paradox Sports we hosted another Adaptive Climbing Event – stay tuned for another blog post talking about our experience working with and learning from them! To learn more about Paradox Sports visit: impact.paradoxsports.org

Thank you Threshold members for volunteering your time to help make this event such a success. A huge thanks to Justin Salas and Matthew Frederick for taking time to visit from Tulsa and lead this Camp in a meaningful way. And, finally, thank you to NewView staff for the opportunity to introduce rock climbing to the next generation.