High Hampton donates climbing tower to Summit Charter School

Students at Summit Charter School can now rope up and ascend the climbing tower recently donated by High Hampton Land.

Video courtesy of Summit Charter School.

President Brien Peterkin said High Hampton is known as a place for outdoor pursuits, recreation and exploration, and sharing that with generations young and old. When the approx. 40-foot climbing tower had to be moved for construction, donating it to a local school made sense.

“We are fortunate to live in an area where our kids can explore nature and the mountains right at their doorstep and we want to encourage that,” said Peterkin. “I hope giving them access to a climbing wall pushes kids to take risks and overcome fears while getting some fresh air. Climbing could end up being a passion for students, and now with the climbing tower it is more accessible than ever.”

A crane was used to raise the seven sections of the approx. 40 foot climbing tower on Summit’s campus behind the high school building.

Peterkin added that the granite faces in the mountains make for some of the best climbing in the country, and hopes the climbing tower teaches kids the skills to climb and gives them confidence to try climbing outdoors on actual rocks

Summit Head of School Kurt Pusch said the climbing tower will bring access to rock climbing as a supervised activity for students on campus and will be a significant boost to Summit’s rock-climbing club.

The final section is lowered by crane into place during the assembly of the climbing tower on Summit’s campus last week.

He added that the tower will serve as another unique resource on campus to support place-based learning experiences that engage students as learners beyond the traditional classroom.“Our place-based learning approach seeks to utilize concepts of inquiry and design-thinking to engage learning experiences through our local resources and community,” said Pusch. “The climbing tower will enhance hands-on, experiential learning opportunities that are central to our mission and educational approach.”

From left are Brien Peterkin, Melissa Hudson, and Kurt Pusch during the installation of the climbing tower.

Summit High School Principal Lauren Bennett is an experienced rock-climbing instructor and will be heading up programming for the climbing tower. Summit students and families will be updated with plans for integrating the climbing tower into the climbing program in the coming weeks.

Peterkin said High Hampton has a long-standing history of philanthropy in the Cashiers community and although currently closed, it’s still an important part of High Hampton’s identity. In 2019, High Hampton residents raised approx. $100,000 for 13 local organizations.

“When the property was operational, the climbing tower was used regularly by visitors and property owners,” said Peterkin. “The tower still has so much life and love left in it. Rather than moving it to storage or letting it sit unused, we decided to donate it to a local school. Many of our staff, members, and owners are longtime supporters of Summit with strong ties to the school. We couldn’t think of a better second act for the tower than to move it to their campus for continued, regular use.”

The climbing tower was installed behind the high school last week. Pusch said the new addition to Summit’s campus is a testament to the community and parent support that have been cornerstones of the school’s program since its founding.

He extended special thanks to Peterkin and Charlie Tickle of High Hampton for the donation, as well as parent Josh Crawford for donating his time and resources to transition the tower to Summit’s campus, and for coordinating a team of volunteers to ensure its readiness for use.

Also, special thanks to parent volunteers Roman Placko, Scott Westendorf, Eduardo Marquina, Edward Marquina (8th-grade student), Buz Stone (grandparent), and Patrick Holden for supporting this effort, and to community members Josh Young of Young Tree Service, Jeff Stillwell, AJ Morales, Kyle Buff, and Summit alum Chandler Stoltzfus for helping as well.

Pictured below are photos courtesy of Summit Charter School.

Disassembly at High Hampton

Reassembly at Summit Charter School campus

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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