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The Adult/Youth Instructors Track will explore best practices for working with climbers of all ages and abilities. From adult programming, to youth camps and climber meet-ups, this track is designed to improve your ability to help your members progress with their climbing and enjoy their time spent in your facility. You can expect to learn alongside your peers in similar roles in your region. 

You should register for the Adult/Youth Instructors track if you identify as:

  • Programs, coaching, or training staff

  • Summer camps and commercial youth programs staff

  • Commercial climbing instructors

You should register for the Climbing Wall Instructor Provider Certification course if:

  • You are responsible for managing and/or implementing your facility's new climber orientation procedures. 

Monday:  Workshops

All-day Session: 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM

The Power of Intentional Programming: how facilitating structured programming will support
member satisfaction and program efficacy

Facilitated by: Headwall Group

Headwall Group will facilitate a day of training for climbing program staff. The training will first establish best practices in structuring participant experiences, including tools for planning programming. These tools will be based in best practices of experiential learning. We will then demonstrate the best practices of facilitation and how applying these facilitation skills and implementing a learning-based structure can improve participant experience and outcomes while positively affecting member/participant retention.

Headwall Group will then lead participants through specific, scaffolded, activities that are applicable to an adult climbing program, a climber meet-up, and a developmental youth program. For each of these categories Headwall Group will provide specific and creative activities that help participants learn while climbing. Participants will have a chance to practice their own facilitation skills while trying out new climbing activities. Headwall Group will provide opportunities for participants to apply this model to their own programs, brainstorming creative ways to engage their participants in active and learningful climbing programs.

Participants will leave with planning tools that will help structure meaningful climbing programs for participants of all ages, facilitation techniques that make teaching easier, specific climbing based activities for all ages, and a new and creative approach to programming that engages participants in creative, active, and educational climbing programs. 

Monday Night:  Member Meetup


Tuesday:  Conference

Check back for updates, times and locations are subject to change. 

Morning Sessions

Opening Remarks by the CWA: 8:30 am - 8:45 am

Keynote: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Speaker: Chris Stevenson

8:45 am - 10:00 am

Great things happen when individuals come together for a purpose bigger than themselves. Goals are achieved.  Lives are changed. The world is a better place. In this inspiring and enlightening keynote, we explore effective ways to improve both personally and professionally, which includes discussing the habits and regimens of high level performers. From there, we learn how to take that individual greatness and mesh that seamlessly into a team environment. Attendees will leave understanding how to be the best they can be as individuals and as part of a team.  

Coffee Break: 10:00 am -10:20 am

Breakout Presentation: Effective Program Planning

Speaker: Headwall Group

10:30 am - 11:45 am

In this session participants will be guided through the process of planning youth/adult climbing programming.  Using the concepts, activities and tools learned in the previous day's workshop, participants will create a scalable program outline that they can take back and apply in their own programs.  

Lunch​ (provided): 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm

Afternoon Sessions

Adult/Youth Instructors Roundtable (Session 1 of 2)

Facilitated by: Headwall Group

1:25 pm - 3:00 pm

Join your peers for an engaging discussion on best practices for commercial adult and youth programs, engaging and retaining members with exciting programming, and growing your career as indoor climbing professionals. Come with questions and be ready to solve problems collaboratively. 

Afternoon Break: 3:00 pm - 3:10 pm

Peak Sponsor presentation: PETZL

3:15 pm - 3:45 pm

Supporting Sponsor presentation: MyClimb

3:50 pm - 4:20 pm

Q&A and Closing Remarks with the CWA
4:20 pm - 4:45 pm

Tuesday Night:  Happy Hour
4:45 pm - 6:00 pm


Climbing Wall Instructor Provider Certification Training

Facilitated by: Jesse Williams

Wednesday: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Thursday: 8:00 am - 12:00 pm

Gain technical certification for certifying your staff as climbing wall instructors. This certification course is ideal for front desk managers, gym managers, and operations staff in charge of facilitating new climber orientations and belay tests, and ensuring member compliance with facility requirements. 

This is a separate ticket from the Monday-Tuesday  event and is not eligible for discounts. 

Seats are limited >>


Meet our Speakers

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Chris Stevenson

Chris is a fitness industry leader with over 20 years of experience in the health and fitness industry. This experience ranges from personal training and group instruction, to owning and operating facilities. Chris has also been a presenter and speaker for national and international events for the last six years. He presented at the last few conferences and was one of the CWA's highest rated speakers.

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Headwall Group

Bix Firer (MA University of Chicago, BA University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) has worked in experiential and adventure education with national non-profits and school districts in Chicago, Milwaukee, Colorado, and Alaska since 2007. Bix has primarily worked with students who are traditionally under-represented in outdoor education. Bix is currently the Director of Outdoor Programs at the College of Idaho. His passion is facilitating challenging and fun experiences that help the next generation of educators approach themselves and each other with excitement, empathy, and a sense of adventure. While not working, Bix can be found exploring the rivers and mountains of Idaho by his own power.


Patrick Brehm (BA Marquette University) has worked in several capacities of youth advocacy, developing and delivering curriculum based in social-emotional learning, experiential education, and special education. He has passionately brought high-level, energetic facilitation and training to diverse communities of youth and adults in Milwaukee and Denver through various non-profits, schools, and community-oriented businesses. As a dedicated rock climbing instructor, Pat is passionate about sharing a unique perspective, encouraging groups and individuals to use rock climbing and other adventures to find connection and balance within oneself, community, and natural environment. When Pat is not teaching, you can find him climbing.

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Heather Reynolds 

Heather blends her knowledge of movement, physiology, education to develop a multitude of successful climbing programs designed to engage new-to-climbers and experienced climbers of all ages. Coaching hundreds of climbers each year to connect and reconnect with their potential and inspire their climbing, helping them improve their performance. Heather has created and shares simple activities to help climbers develop.

About CWA Climbing Wall Instructor Provider Certification 


Application: Please submit an application within 72 hours of registering for this course HERE.

The CWI Provider Certification Program is designed to promote industry self-regulation and assist owner/operators of climbing facilities in training staff to a minimum, consistent standard of care. The curriculum can be easily integrated into existing staff training and professional development programs.

The CWI Certification program may not cover all necessary topics required at a particular company, program or facility. However, the program should address the basic technical competencies for climbing wall instructors regardless of venue. The primary governing document for the program is the program policy manual which discusses the structure and functioning of the program and the responsibilities of the providers.

Any person meeting the pre-requisites to become a CWI certification program provider, and who maintains appropriate membership status, may stand as a candidate for certification to be a provider and is encouraged to apply. Eligibility is determined based upon review of an application, a current résumé or curriculum vitae, references, completion of a provider course, and willingness to complete an attestation and agreement. An interview may also be required.

Prerequisites for CWI Certification program provider include:
1. Current membership in the CWA

2. 21 years of age.

3. Current first aid and CPR (American Red Cross Basic - 5.5 to 6.5 hours, or equivalent).

4. A résumé or other document showing a minimum of 200 hours of work experience as a climbing instructor, showing expertise in indoor climbing settings.

5. Climbing ability: 5.9 top rope and 5.8 lead on artificial structures.

6. Current CWA Certified Climbing Wall Instructor.* (See Below)

7. Two non-related professional references, including contact information and phone number.

8. A signed agreement and attestation on file.

9. Proof of insurance.

* If the candidate is not a current CWA Certified Climbing Wall Instructor, the candidate may complete an alternative qualification procedure documenting that the candidate meets the requirements of becoming a provider but showing a minimum of 400 hours of work experience as a climbing instructor. Exceptional and wide-ranging indoor climbing teaching experience, prior experience as an instructor or guide, or other certification will be considered as evidence of qualification.

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