April 15, 2010

Mt. Everest at 13?

I just heard a piece on NPR about a 13-year-old boy who's planning to climb to the summit of Mt. Everest, thus becoming the youngest to do so. Having spent several years teaching 13-year-old males, I have concerns about judgment, decision-making abilities, etc., which certainly must figure into the formula for successful mountain-climbing. I also don't understand the hurry to do something so monumental. If you scale Everest at 13, what would be next for you? What would you line up to surpass the thrill of that accomplishment?

I just don't get the drive to be the youngest--or the oldest, as is now the case for me--to do something. I think back to when I was 13 (yes, I can still remember back that far)--a freshman in high school, struggling to unlock the mysteries of Latin grammar, hold down my scholarship job in the school library and have a good time with my family and friends. My goals were pretty humble and always attainable and I set them mostly for myself. I can't think of anyone my age back then who aspired to anything as grand as scaling Mt. Everest.

I hope that Jordan stays safe and healthy and happy. I also hope that, if he reaches his goal, that this will not set off a wave of 12-year-olds trying to break his record.

Maybe kids should just enjoy life in the valley and save climbing mammoth mountains for later.

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