If you’ve been to our facility in Clifton Park, NY, then you’ve likely seen our rock climbing gym, The Edge Halfmoon. The walls stand an impressive 40’ at the highest point and provide upwards of 14,000 square feet of climbing terrain. Since its grand opening in November 2011 The Edge Halfmoon has seen more than 60,000 unique individuals come through its doors. In the six years it’s been open, The Edge Halfmoon has grown into a flourishing, well-known rock climbing gym. But we are often asked, how does a non-profit youth ministry come to own a business like The Edge Halfmoon?
A number of years ago, prior to our new facility, Capital District Youth For Christ partnered with Electric City Rock Gym in Schenectady to run a climbing and adventure ministry. When Electric City Rock Gym closed its doors, CDYFC began to consider building a climbing gym on their new property in Halfmoon which already hosted our high ropes course. The vision of operating a climbing gym was two-fold, to help supplement ministry expenses, but most importantly to continue to do ministry.
Youth For Christ as a national organization strongly stresses the importance of Authentic Christ-Sharing Relationships. The ministry that takes place at The Edge Halfmoon utilizes those relationships, whether with students on the climbing team, a kid and their friends at a birthday party, a member coming in for a climbing session, or somebody looking to learn how to climb for the first time. Adam Catalano’s (gym manager) vision for the gym is that there are Christian adults having intentional conversations about Christ with fellow climbers. One of the most impactful examples of this is a conversation one of our staff had with a climber named Derek.
Derek is in his mid-thirties and leads a very active climbing life, traveling all over the world, climbing in some truly unbelievable locations. When home, he claims The Edge Halfmoon as his home gym. Derek has spent the last ten years in an on again-off again relationship with a woman named Jen. They’ve struggled in their relationship, never finding peace or joy. Over time Derek has developed a relationship with two of our staff members, DeWayne Moore (climbing coach) and Tyler Kempney (previous climbing coach). In one of his conversations with DeWayne, Derek stated that the relationship DeWayne and Tyler shared with their wives was so much different than his relationship with Jen. He noted that there was true happiness and love. As he conversed with DeWayne about it, Derek stated that the difference must be in that DeWayne, Tyler, and their spouses are Christians. This lead DeWayne into a deep conversation with Derek about who Christ is and how He’s impacted his life. While Derek did not surrender his life to Christ, through his relationship with DeWayne and Tyler, he is engaging in conversations about who God is.
We also have focused ministry times with students on our climbing team. At least twice a week our team of staff and volunteers build relationships with students through coaching rock climbing. While these evenings are focused on climbing, a confidence and relationship builds between these students and adults, and it allows them to speak God’s truth into their lives. On our climbing trips, our staff carves out focused times each day to share about Christ, whether sharing the message of salvation, sharing an account from scripture, or sharing about their own personal encounters with Christ.
Yes, the mission of Youth For Christ is to reach lost 11-19 year olds, and The Edge Halfmoon does that, but they also have an impact on the lives of the adults who climb at The Edge Halfmoon too. They do this through leading a life that reflects Christ and being open to talk about how Christ sets us apart. What a mission field we have right here walking off of the streets and into our building, from the students to the adults! As you walk through The Edge Halfmoon take a moment to ponder the relationships that are forming and the impact that they will have on the kingdom of God, and perhaps take a few moments to engage with someone yourself.
*Names have been changed