Outdoor exploration with kids: Eastern Mountain Sports Schools

EMS rock climbing

 EMS is one of my favorite outdoor gear stores, and I look to them whenever we need something new for backpacking, hiking, or climbing. But did you know that they have special “schools” for climbing (rock and ice), skiing (avalanche training, back country, telemark), kayaking, and biking? These EMS schools are located throughout New England and New York and are available to everyone from experts to newcomers. When you join a class, all equipment is provided (except personal clothing, jackets, raingear, etc.) so it’s a great way to get started in a sport without making a big investment. Half day, full day, and even overnight classes are offered. So whether you live in the area, or are spending some time here on vacation, check out the EMS website to see what’s available near you!

We recently took a half-day beginner rock climbing class in Lake Placid, NY after introducing our five-year-old to the sport at the local climbing gym. (Tip: we paired our EMS schools class with a stay at Lake Placid’s Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort.) Our instructor was friendly and great with kids, and was able to give instructions without skimping on fun. He knew of a great beginner site that was just a short hike off the road, and Homer got to try out a number of different ascents, ranging in difficulty. He must have climbed that cliff 15 times before he asked for a break!

An EMS climbing class may seem expensive ($350 for a family of 4 or 5 people, full day), but when you consider the cost of equipment, and the importance of an instructor who is going to do a lot of the grunt work for you (think of all the ropes that need to be fixed at the top before you even start!), the price sounds pretty reasonable. Overall, it was a great experience, and I’ll definitely check out what is offered by EMS schools before my next New England/New York getaway!

Check out their website to see what’s on offer near you. Classes are located in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New York.

EMS rock climbingDate last visited: August 29, 2013

Distance from the interstate: Lake Placid is pretty remote, and is not really on the way to anything, but it’s still worth a visit! It’s about a 2 or 2 ¼ hour drive from Albany, about 30 miles off Interstate 87.

Where to stay: Read our review of Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort!

Directions / Contact:

See the EMS website for information on an activity near you. The Lake Placid store is located at 2453 Main Street, Lake Placid, NY 12946; tel: (518) 523-2505

As we disclose whenever applicable, we experienced EMS Schools as guests of EMS, for the purpose of review.