When Austin Beck-Doss joined our NAC team a year ago, he chose Utah based on specific criteria; access to the outdoors, proximity to a city and its resources, and a job that enhanced the lives of others.

“NAC’s belief in the positive, healing, beneficial, restorative powers of the outdoors specifically drew me to work here,” Austin said.

participant posing with NAC recreation staff at a rock climbing route in Big Cottonwood Canyon
From Left: NAC program staff member Brayden, participant Sam, and NAC Rock Climbing Specialist Austin at the crag in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Salt Lake City, Utah during a 2019 summer session.

Last summer, we facilitated an outdoor climbing program in Big Cottonwood Canyon just outside of the Salt Lake Valley where Austin worked closely with participant Sam Steppan for six weeks.

“[Sam’s] first time climbing outside was our first time climbing together,” Austin said. “[There was] fear and challenge, but mostly success.”

Whether it’s slight or apparent, apprehension is almost always present when we try something new. Sam’s progression from day one (when he didn’t make it more than five feet off the ground) to sending routes by the end of the session was celebrated.

“All I want as a mom is: know my child, their limitations and their capabilities–and GO! Have fun!” Sam’s mother, Lisa Steppan, said.

Working towards goals with the same instructor week after week proved successful for this climbing pair.

“We had a great chance to build momentum,” Austin said. “If you can’t revisit the uncertainty, you can’t build upon doing something scary.”

When asked about climbing, Sam responded enthusiastically with, “I like going up high, climbing all the way to the top.” Lisa hopes Sam can get climbing outside again with the NAC soon and Austin looks forward to building upon last season’s success at the crag.

“I have a personal connection to the activity of climbing,” Austin said. “This one form [of recreating] is so special to me and the best way I could imagine facilitating healing through recreation in the lives of others and for families.”

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Limited summer programs begin at NAC on June 1. for more info check HERE, or call 435-649-3991.