Child's Play: Climb your way to an afternoon of family bliss

So, you've got a kid, huh? Whether it's your own rambunctious preschooler or the bratty nephew you've been charged with keeping alive for the next five hours, the most important thing is leaving your house where valuables are liable to be destroyed and seeking refuge on somebody else's property. In this series, we'll be exploring fun, local, and quirky spots that are kid-tastic and adult-friendly, too.

Forget all the jumping, climbing, kids-only spots where parents are relegated to holding coats while sitting on greasy chairs. Both locations of ROCK'n & JAM'n feature a playful and safe environment where kids can bounce around while parents and caregivers get a killer workout. Plus, it's never cold, dark or raining at these rock-climbing gyms, which means you and your kids can enjoy ROCK'n & JAM'n 1 or ROCK'n & JAM'n 2 no matter what the weather is outside.

See also: Local yogi Casey Feicht is changing the world one down-dog at a time

For kids ages five to eighteen, programs range from parent-child bonding classes to competitive climbing courses. Climbing is all about technique and helps youngsters develop both fine and gross motor skills while simultaneously instilling a passion for fitness. Plus, the challenge associated with solving the mental puzzle of bouldering or climbing is good for brain development.

"It's also a great confidence builder," says youth programs coach Tim Rice. Unlike soccer and baseball, climbing lets children compete against themselves, which is a great supplement to team sports and helps kids learn about their own limits and gain self-respect.

"Kids can set goals for themselves, which can be as simple as getting ten feet off of the ground," Rice continues. "If they get nervous, they can just come back down."

Both gyms offer introductory classes for adults who need to learn how to belay. "We also have auto-belays here," says Rice, so a family that has no knowledge of climbing can walk in and enjoy a day of it without having to first be certified. What's more, all requisite gear can be rented, so you won't have to make a big investment upfront.

Bouldering's great for newbies and youngsters because it doesn't require a rope, harness or experience. There's a padded landing zone for added safety, though you won't ever get too far off of the ground. For every paid adult, one child five or under is admitted for free and can romp alongside their bouldering adult. Off-hours, before 3:30 p.m. on weekdays, are especially great times for young kids to explore.

Kiddos ages six to eleven will pay $12 for a day pass; those twelve and up are subject to adult pricing, but can also graduate from bouldering to climbing. The adult rate is $15, or $12 for off-hours. There are also punchcards and monthly pass deals.

Both ROCK'n & JAM'n locations -- at 9499 Washington Street in Thornton and 7390 South Fraser Street in Centennial -- are open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Check the Rock'n & Jam'n website or Facebook page for class schedules and more details.

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Jamie Siebrase is a Denver-based freelance writer, and author of the forthcoming Falcon Guide Hiking Wth Kids, Colorado: 52 Great Hikes for Families.
Contact: Jamie Siebrase