State of Metro Parks Volunteer of the Year Profile
Name: Greg Maney
Park: Scioto Audubon
How long have you volunteered?
I have been a volunteer for one year this summer! However, I’ve been climbing at the Scioto Audubon Park for about 3 and a half years.
What are your general duties as a volunteer? What is your favorite thing to do at the Metro Parks?
For me, these two questions go hand in hand. As one member of an extremely close but relatively small community; I help to keep the Scioto Audubon climbing wall in tip top shape. The wall was originally built by RockWerx, and it is constructed of molded fiberglass over a steel frame. As far as I know, the Scioto Audubon climbing wall is one of the largest, if not the largest, free-access artificial climbing wall in the United States. The attraction of this wall and its easy access draws climbers from all over Ohio, as well as from around the country. This wall has natural features as well as artificial plastic climbing holds. Over time, holds can become loose or potentially come out of their mountings altogether. This poses a potential risk for climber’s safety as well as the integrity of the wall surface. As a Wall Volunteer, I am part of the team that helps to identify weak spots on the wall, as well as help to keep the public safe and aware of the risks and requirements of this sport. Climbing is not without risk, but the thrills that comes with it is genuine and intoxicating.
The climbing community in Columbus cherishes our wall at Scioto Audubon and routinely go above and beyond to care for it and make sure that it is used appropriately. As a Wall Volunteer at Scioto Audubon I have the privilege of being one of the team who sets new climbing routes and maintains existing ones. As with any sport, one is constantly seeking new challenges and greater excitement. After a while, the routes that exist on the climbing wall become routine, and we climbers begin to crave new adventures. I thoroughly enjoy setting routes at the climbing wall; it is a way to push myself further and to improve my own skills, and I have also discovered an incredible outlet for creativity.
There is a very organic beauty to be found in the movements and the rhythms that are associated with climbing. Strength and agility and stamina all come together to allow one to perform a feat that is beyond the norm, and takes them beyond regular every day existence. In my opinion; having a vision for a series of moves and holds in your head, and then being able to create and actualize that dream is the most amazing catharsis. I don't know if I feel more joy than when I see someone attempt a route of mine at the wall and say afterwards that it was so much fun or that it was hard and makes them want to climb better themselves! The best thing about setting routes and being a Wall Volunteer is seeing how people from all walks of life and of any age, come together and join in a unique camaraderie in this shared love of rock climbing.
What do you do when you aren’t volunteering at the Metro Parks?
When I’m not climbing, I enjoy music and working with the youth group at my church. There are a couple climbers there also! My day job finds me at Grant Medical Center, where I am a surgical Nurse. I specialize in orthopedics and neurosurgery, I frequently scrub and assist surgeons while they operate. That’s essentially how I've become famous around the climbing wall. I’m never there without my trusty green scrub pants, they've become a bit of a trademark!
Please share one of your favorite experiences as a volunteer:
One of my favorite experiences was the Inaugural “Rock On!” Community Climbing Festival. Between the food trucks, vendors, and community organizations present, I have never seen more life and vitality around the climbing wall. There were so many avid climbers in attendance, along with their families, it was difficult to even move around! The climbing community also warmly welcomed new climbers and folks who just happened to pass by and decided to give it a try. There was such an amazing sense of friendship and joy at the Climbing Festival, it is hard for me to see why anyone wouldn't want to be around it! The Ranger staff at Scioto Audubon have always been very welcoming and accommodating to the climbing community, and they truly outdid themselves with putting on the Climbing Festival. I can't wait for the Festival next year!
What do the Metro Parks mean to you?
The Metro Parks are an amazing resource for our city and our community, the Scioto Audubon climbing wall doubly so. As climbers, our greatest privilege is also our greatest challenge: Access. The entire climbing community in Columbus recognizes what a gem and a treasure that Scioto Audubon is, and they are quick to lavish praise on it. That the city and county would be willing to take such a risk and open up an attraction such as this is not lost on us, and at every opportunity we try to do our best to preserve and sustain it. The Scioto Audubon Metro Park is an oasis for me personally. It is only ten minutes from my work at Grant, and I can go down there at any time and enjoy a reprieve from stress and hustle and bustle. It offers one of the most unique and breathtaking views of the city as well. The Scioto Audubon Metro Park is a nexus; not only for myself and others in the climbing community, but also for many residents of Columbus and Franklin County overall. On any given day, there will be folks down at the wall or on the obstacle course from all walks of life and from all over the greater central Ohio area. There is nowhere else that such a diverse community could possibly come together like we do here.
Why should other people become volunteers?
To become part of something bigger than yourself, and to open yourself up to the opportunity to expand your horizons. Our time in this life is so precious, a fact that is sometimes painfully clear to me in my occupation. But the time that is spent among friends, or making new ones, and doing the things that make you happiest are perhaps the best way to spend it. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone, and to share your love of the world and the things in it with others. We are all in this together!