PHOTOS: Casper Rotary Club Hosts Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for New Boulder Park
Three-and-a-half years ago, the Casper Rotary Club had an idea.
"What needs can we meet?" they asked themselves.
And so, the boulder park at the Crossroads Adventure Playground in Casper was conceived.
"We've recently completed a bunch of improvements to the Rotary Park up at the Garden Falls [near Casper Mountain] and we were looking to do another big project," said John Griffith, a Rotary member and the leading foreman in the construction of the park. "One of the things that kept coming up down here at Crossroads is that the Adventure Playground is great, but if you're over a certain age, there's not a lot for other kids to do."
So, Rotary members decided to act. And they opted to create a boulder park for burgeoning rock climbers.
"We saw a bit of a niche that wasn't being fulfilled or being utilized," Griffith said. "So we asked ourselves 'What needs can we meet? What can we come up with that's unique and different?' Rotary does have a pillar about living a healthy lifestyle, but we also asked 'What can we do that our community doesn't have? What can we do to help service the tourism aspect of this area?' And so that's when we ended up landing on the idea of a boulder park."
Griffith said the idea for the boulder park has been in the works for the last three-and-a-half years, and it was decided upon by a committee of about 15-20 people. Casper Rotary partnered with the City of Casper, who actually owned the land and donated it to the Rotary for the purposes of the boulder park.
The Rotarians, themselves, constructed the park after purchasing the boulders from a Colorado-based company.
"They came from a really great partner of ours, El Dorado Climbing Walls, out of Colorado," Griffith said. "They're a great team to work with. They actually came up here one time and modeled the texture and the aesthetic of the rocks after the rocks in Fremont Canyon. But as far as the excavation, the foundation work, the setting of the rubber chips - all of that kinda stuff was all done by Rotarians."
And they did it for the simple reason of just caring about the community; of wanting community members to be proud of where they live.
"As Rotarians, we're a service organization," said Miamie Sleep, the President of Casper Rotary. "So our biggest goal is to do good for the community and help people out; to fill that niche that is not here and to be a good support for the community."
Griffith and Sleep agreed that the boulder park is not only good for the adolescents of Natrona County who want to exercise and have a little fun; it's for anybody who wants to get involved in the world of rock climbing.
"One of the things that we really looked at when we were going through this and asking ourselves what we could build was that we wanted something that would help attract other folks, like from a tourism side of things," Griffith said. "Because there's a tremendous climbing community here. Some of the best climbing in the world is 30to 45 minutes away from where we sit. And not that many people know about it, unless you're actually into it. But bouldering or rock climbing, if done right, is a lifetime sport. You don't have to be a certain age; you can do it for a lifetime and it's an amazingly health activity. But it's also one of those things that could be a little intimidating. So we wanted this to serve as a jumping off point for folks to get into the climbing world a little bit."
Judging by how many young people, on that day and on any other given day, were climbing the boulders, it's easy to say that the boulder park may have just created an entirely new generation of rock climbers.
The community gathered on Wednesday for the actual ribbon cutting, and to honor the memory of those to whom the park is dedicated: Tom Thorson and Bill Mortimer. Thorson and Mortimer are fellow Rotarians who, unfortunately, passed away in the last year. But their legacy will live on in the boulder park.
Video of the ribbon cutting ceremony, as well as photos from the event, can be seen below: