This fall, AMI Ambassador (now Ambassador Team Manager, yeah she’s #BossAF) coordinated a free Mama and Babe Bouldering Bash in Joshua Tree National Park as her annual AMI Ambassador Project. Her goal was simple: make connections with like-minded MAMAS, get more MAMAS out climbing, and distract the kids with play so MAMA could focus on crushing. This woman is truly invested in helping women become their best selves. The bouldering event shows how committed Jackie is to empowering and supporting MAMAS, both those who attended and those around the world who need a good reminder that we can and should do hard, epic things.
Read on to learn about why Jackie decided to plan this event, what the kids learn in the process, her journey of overcoming the postpartum head game, and more.
CONNECTION & CAMARADERIE:
Real talk? One of the main reasons was that I wanted to get a bunch of climbing mamas together was to make friends.
I’ve always had a hard time connecting with ladies. I can be intense, fierce, and direct. I feel like women are either intimidated by me or they can’t handle my fiery personality…none of them seem to stick around. Before becoming a mother, I didn’t care that I didn’t have girlfriends, I preferred being one of the guys anyhow. But after having my daughter, something shifted. I found that I craved connection with other strong women. As much as I love my dude friends, just being ‘one of the guys’ wasn’t working for me anymore. As a result, motherhood initiated some of the loneliest years of my life. The feeling of not having connection or someone to relate to was killing me. So I decided to do something about– bouldering with other mamas was that ‘something.’
So yeah… I guess hosting the event was kind of a selfish act, but at the same time it was a communal experience. We all had something unique to gain.
There is a lack of mama companionship in the climbing community. Not only is climbing a male-dominated sport, but you also don’t hear of many moms who full-on crush outdoors. I wanted to create a space for women, mothers specifically, to feel safe to climb without judgment, where they feel empowered and uplifted with positivity, where they can connect with like minded women, and most importantly, a space where the kids are safe and happily distracted so mama can focus on her climbing.
RISK AND OVERCOMING THE POSTPARTUM HEAD GAME:
I remember when I was postpartum, I was so eager to get out and climb again, but my head space had changed. Nothing felt right or the same. Instead, everything seemed like a threat and felt extra dangerous. In the back of my mind, I was so worried about getting injured AND having to take care of a little human at the same time. I wasn’t comfortable taking risks and refrained from trying boulder problems that I normally would have done with ease.
Although my headspace isn’t quite back to where it was, I’m slowly working to get there. Climbing with other mamas and women who have had experiences make me feel like I am not alone. And this is why I wanted to gather all the mamas, I wanted to let them know they are not alone; others have had those thoughts and experiences. I wanted to remind myself, other moms, and the world that you can be a badass and a mama!
At one point, I remember stepping back and just taking it all in. The kids were running around the boulders, chasing each other in the afternoon sun as they played some game they’d just made up. Several mamas were climbing with spotters below offering up encouragement and beta. There were crash pads and diaper bags, chalk and toys. I just stood there for a moment, watching everything unfold– it was exactly what I had hoped. There was laughter and play, bouldering and community all beneath a big ol’ desert sun.
WHAT THE KIDS LEARN:
- how to build companionship, how to play, share, and take care of one another
- about the environment and how to interact with the ecosystem responsibly
- that mama deserves time to herself
- climbing skills by watching mama
- how to encourage and cheer for one another
- about setting goals
- that doing hard things and embracing challenge is fun
- how to be an epic badass, just like their mama
In the beginning everyone was just trying to get to know each other… sort of putting feelers out. But as we warmed up on the boulders, we warmed up to one another as well. Soon, that initial small talk organically evolved into deeper conversations. The kids though, they quickly found their groove, bypassing small talk altogether and jumping into wild play. I distinctly remember my daughter being upset when she realized all her new friends were leaving.
WHAT THE MAMAS HAD TO SAY:
“I think one of the most memorable aspects of our get together was the instantaneous sense of community. We converged out in the desert, a group of Mamas of diverse ages, backgrounds, climbing skills, and life stories, but nonetheless immediately found connection. Motherhood + outdoors always makes great group alchemy, and I felt like all the women I met were fast friends. I felt very fortunate to have attended and look forward to future events.”
“The day was a total hit. All the moms were able to get outdoors with their babes while being worry-free for child care when it was their turn to work the boulders.The kiddos got along great and had a blast being in the dirt. The woman were all at different skill levels with their climbing and were helpful about giving each other pointers and confidence.I am a first time mom trying to get into the rhythm of getting outdoors with my daughter while she’s young…I was able to meet other like-minded mamas in the same boat…They were super hands-on which was fun and welcoming. Motherhood can be isolating when you don’t have a tribe. I felt as if through AMI and meet ups like this I could have my tribe of women. Hoping Jackie will host another one! I would love to see everyone again!”
“I had such a great time and am so thankful for this event!…This group of women was so awesome, supportive, and like-minded… It was exactly what I have been looking for.”
“I loved getting together with other like minded moms at the Joshua Tree event. It was such a positive experience being able to climb with other ladies who have little ones.”
“I started with AMI in the Minneapolis area and I’m here in CA for school. I saw the event for Joshua Tree and…I HAD to go. I’m not a climber but I want to be…My 3 kids were psyched to go along once they realized what we were doing.”
Stay tuned, I’m going to plan more. I would love to coordinate something bigger and even a weekend event in Joshua Tree, we’ll see if I can score campsite reservations…
If you’re stoked on this concept, consider planning your own Mama + Babe Bouldering Event. Reach out if you want advice, tips, or suggestions on how to make your event a raging success, firstname.lastname@example.org