Why You Should Embrace All Opportunities
Girl Scout alum Maureen Beck is a 33-year-old award-winning paraclimber. She’s never let anything keep her from following her passion for climbing, including the fact that she was born without a left hand and forearm.
Maureen was just 12 the first time she climbed—at Girl Scout Camp Natarswi in northern Maine.
“There was a 30-foot boulder to climb,” she recalls. “My counselor said I could sit it out, but at 12 when someone says you don’t have to do something, you want to do it even more.”
“I wanted to prove that counselor wrong, and while I probably did terribly that day, something about climbing stuck,” adds the proud Girl Scout alum, who was active from Daisies through Juniors and went on to become a camp counselor.
To date, Beck has won six national paraclimbing titles.
Paraclimbing, a form of rock climbing designed especially for people with physical impairments like Beck, is relatively new but gaining traction. In Tokyo this July, the sport will be featured for the first time at the Summer Olympics; Beck hopes to be a coach in 2028.
When Beck isn’t training, she works for a company that builds climbing walls and for Paradox Sports, an adaptive climbing nonprofit that offers accessible climbing experiences for people with disabilities. In 2017, she also started chairing USA Climbing's Paraclimbing Committee.
“Fear can be a reason to say no, even if it’s a social occasion,” says Beck. “Because of my disability, I don’t look like someone who should be climbing. There are tangible fears almost every time I climb, but what I’ve learned [from climbing] is that you almost always end up learning something, which is more than a good enough reason to say yes to things.”
In fact, Beck now says yes to nearly every worthwhile opportunity that comes her way.
“If you keep saying yes to opportunities and disregard your fears, it leads to more opportunities,” she says. “I think the world can detect someone who will always say yes.”
Speaking of fear, Beck is a big fan of telling people, especially girls, that it’s okay to feel scared.
“When it comes to climbing, I always say that there are a bunch of ways to baby-step it. If you’re afraid, go to your climbing gym and just try out a small section. My friends and I have a saying: ‘go for it—you’ll always have a top rope, so what’s the worst that can happen?’ That has always guided me.”
Girl Scouts of the USA and The North Face have partnered to develop 12 new Outdoor High-Adventure badges to inspire the next generation of female explorers. Maureen Beck is featured in the Snow or Climbing Adventure badge booklet for Ambassadors.