Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Outdoor Day at Rumbling Bald!

Last weekend, the courageous girls and mentors of CTC took a trip...over the river, and through the woods to the Family Wall at Rumbling Bald for our day of outside climbing!

The girls practically sprinted up the hill to get to the base of the climbs where we met Jason and Becca, our climbing guides for the day. They had set up two climbs and one climb/rappel (where you climb to the top and then get to rappel down). We quickly came up with names for our climbs - Ghost Bear Crack, Lady Longfeet, and the Rappel Route.

There were so many successes during the day - everyone left with something to be proud of. The pictures below do a much better job of showing what our day was about than words ever could.

Also, Monday November 28th is CTC Graduation! The ceremony starts at 7pm at ClimbMax Climbing Gym in downtown Asheville. Please join us to celebrate the accomplishments and growth of these amazing girls!

Up the initial hill, and the view from the top of the climbs - so rewarding and beautiful!

Big smiles all around!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Session Five - Halfway!

Well, here we are at Session
Five of CTC. Halfway done already, we're not quite sure where the time has gone! Girls and mentors are getting comfortable with each other and spent time this session talking about comfort, stretch, and panic zones. How do you know you're being stretched or in panic, and what can you do?

Everyone's getting comfortable climbing and belaying, too!

This week, we rope climbed and did some media analysis in Girls' Group. Each mentor/mentee pair looked through a magazine and found one picture to present to the group and talk about what it said about how girls and women are supposed to be. These girls had a lot to say about the media!

Everyone agreed that the ads in magazines portray a very narrow idea of what girls are really like, and don't showcase the amazing talents that girls have - mostly they showcase bodies that are someone else's idea of beauty and perfection.

We wrapped up the night by talking about ways to resist the messages that don't feel true - by writing emails, choosing what to buy, talking about it, and using humor to make light of media images that don't ring true. We're all excited for these amazing conversations to continue!

Check out the pictures below from Session Five, and the surprise birthday celebration!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Last Monday, the amazing girls and women of CTC headed out to the Asheville School Ropes Course. We started off with some games and introductions and then jumped right in.

First, Adventure Ed showed us how to use the ropes course safety systems. Being familiar with climbing equipment and gear use, everyone picked it up really fast.

There were five cards hidden in different spots on the ropes course - some on the highest level, and some on the lower level (which is still about thirty feet off the ground!). The group decided which pair would get each card. There was a lot of courage shown as girls and mentors spoke up about their fears and excitements.

And then off we went into the ropes course itself! Everyone climbed up the initial cargo net tunnel, and then departed to different sections of the course. Some highlights included a rope bridge with a missing step that took some problem solving to cross, the giant swing, the leap of faith to the trapeze bar and bell, and climbing up the cargo netting.

Back in the Lodge over a tasty dinner courtesy of Rosetta's, the girls opened up their cards to find some food for thought about the real meaning of confidence and courage. We took time to reflect on our own acts of confidence, and to appreciate what we had seen in others during the day.

Special thanks to Ed and the Asheville School staff, and to Becca and Sharlene for helping support this amazing day.

Below are some pictures, if you want to see more, 'like' us on Facebook for access to a more in depth album!

On the platform, getting ready to climb into the upper levels.

Just hanging out, waiting to head over to the swing.

Check it out - no hands!

What an amazing team!

Success and big smiles!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

CTC Fall 2011!

The Fall Session of CTC is up and running! We've got six amazing girls and six fantastic mentors. So far, there's been three sessions of games, initiatives, bouldering and rope climbing.

Our first session, the girls got to meet their mentors and we all started getting to know each other. We found common ground about our families, interests and lives. And we created a hand contract to symbolize the new girl culture that we're creating at CTC and talked about all the things that girls these days juggle - and manage to do so with amazing grace and style!

Session two is when we dove into things some more. We had an insightful discusison about gender stereotypes, and were so impressed with the wise input of the CTC girls. Everyone also got sized for climbing shoes and got hands on practice at the climbing gym. There's a lot of excitement about climbing in this group, as we can see in the pictures!

During our last session we learned about using some other climbing gear, and how to belay. Mentors spent time belaying girls, and girls belayed mentors. All the girls and women showed the courage and confidence to be both trusting and trustworthy - wow!

Stay tuned for updates next week, when CTC hits the ropes course at the Asheville School!

Monday, March 28, 2011

On Monday, March 21 the girls and women of Climbing Toward Confidence pushed their limits at the high ropes course at the Asheville School. It was a gorgeous, sunny day to be outdoors.

To start the day, the group discussed the value of moving outside of one's comfort zone and embracing challenge. After making a strategy for completing various elements of the high ropes course, the group moved on to the challenge course, where they learned the requisite safety skills. Then they were ready to climb.

One at a time, the group members entered the ropes course through the rope ladder. Once on the initial deck, they departed in mentor pairs to complete different tasks. Nine index cards had been hidden throughout the course; the team had to collect them all to reveal a scrambled message. In some cases, the adults were more timid than the girls -- but all of the mentor pairs worked to encourage one another to meet their goals despite understandable fears. They walked across tight ropes, jumped for trapezes and flew on a massive swing through the trees. Most importantly, each person took a step outside what felt comfortable and gained new confidence in her abilities.

Just as dusk was settling in, the group completed its tasks and returned to the Lodge to eat dinner and reflect on their day. The group appreciated one another for their courage, trust, communication skills and positive attitudes. They brought their nine cards together to reveal this message:

Jump into the middle of things, get your hands dirty, fall flat on your face, and then reach for the stars!

All in all, it was a successful day! The group left tired, confident and proud! Here are some images from the day:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Introducing the Mentors

Climbing Toward Confidence would not be possible without the crew of dedicated and compassionate women who volunteer to serve as mentors. Mentors commit to working one-on-one with a teen participant throughout the 3-month program to help her gain confidence and learn to speak assertively. Here are some of these fabulous women:

Leigha Dickens is a CTC mentor for the second time. Leigha chose to be a mentor again because she believes Climbing Toward Confidence is a powerful and important experience for teen girls. She likes being part of a strong community of women, and she also remembers her own struggles as an adolescent. Today, Leigha is a confident and fun-loving woman who enjoys reading and writing (especially about science), running, biking, climbing and working on wilderness trail crews. She says she's proud of her enthusiasm for "nerdy things," but we think she does cool things like working as the Green Building Coordinator at Delta Homes.

Stephanie Crosby works as a massage therapist and joined the mentor team because she wanted to do something beneficial in her spare time as well as challenge herself to try something new and difficult - learning to rock climb. She hopes to overcome her own fears and accomplish her goals while supporting a teen girl to do the same, in the hopes that it will bring about healing and empowerment. Stephanie found mentors in various places at age 13 including her French teacher, her aunt, and her younger sister, who taught her the importance of being a good role model. In her spare time, Stephanie likes to read, travel, enjoy nature, exercise and go
to concerts.

When Amy Borg thinks back to being a teenage girl, she can't recall any stand-out mentors in her life. She says that's the main reason she joined the mentor team at CTC - she wants to serve as a mentor to a girl during a time of life that was challenging for herself and when she wished she'd had a mentor. She wants to provide support to a girl who, like herself at that age, may not be able to see that life after middle school does get better! She hopes to impart in girls the knowledge that they can achieve whatever they want if they have determination. Amy is currently studying creative writing at UNC-Asheville, where she also works at the university's Unity Center. In her free time, she likes to read, write, draw and make jewelry.

Nicole Accordino already works with youth through her Americorps Project POWER position as the Volunteer & School Garden Coordinator at Vance Elementary School. Nicole says she sought out this volunteer opportunity because she believes in the power of prevention programs like Climbing Toward Confidence which support positive growth in girls. A confident woman whose passions drive her pursuits, Nicole is a great role model to encourage girls to follow their dreams. When she is not working at the Vance garden, she enjoys cooking, gardening on her own, doing embroidery, walking and reading fiction.

Angela Farnquist recalls looking up to female musicians as a teenager; today she actually sings in a band and plays guitar! Serving as a role model of a woman who has followed her dreams, Angela looks forward to lending an ear to a teen girl and enjoying the company of a great group of women and girls each week at CTC. By day, Angela works for Thermo Fisher Scientific, a medical manufacturing company, where she negotiates terms and conditions of contracts. She enjoys watching hockey, playing outside, running and doing yoga.

Courtney Johnson is a veteran of the Climbing Toward Confidence program. She was a mentor in the original session during the fall of 2008 and she served as Climbing Instructor for the program for two other sessions. She's returned as a mentor this spring because she missed the program - both because it is fun and because she knows it makes a difference in girls' lives. Courtney wants to show the girls that she believes in them, just as her sister Lori did for her when she was a teenager. Courtney spends her days tending to plants as the manager of a native plant nursery. In her free time she climbs rocks, practices yoga, makes art and crafts and works in her own garden.

Friday, March 4, 2011

More Girls Are Ready to Climb Toward Confidence!

The Spring 2011 session of Climbing Toward Confidence kicked off this week on Monday, February 28. Nine girls and nine adult mentors are enrolled in this spring's 11-week session. The girls, ranging in age from twelve to fourteen, hail from four area schools: Asheville Middle School, ArtSpace Charter School, Evergreen Community Charter School and Francine Delaney New School for Children. Check back next week for profiles of our volunteer mentors and program staff.

Despite the calendar's insistence that it is still winter, spring weather -- thunderstorms and tornado warnings -- kept the group inside on their first day together. The first moments spent in any new group are awkward. Teens and adults alike stuck to the people they already knew and eyed each other nervously. But the feeling of discomfort didn't last long as the group courageously introduced themselves to one another with a favorite dance move or pose. Laughing at themselves, the ice was broken.

Throughout the evening, the girls and women played games and took on a series of challenges. Working together, the girls managed to cross a boiling "chocolate river" safely. Reflecting on the activity, the girls agreed they'd like to work harder to include everyone's voice in their discussions. They'll take their learnings from this feat on to greater challenges in the coming weeks, such as learning to belay for one another and completing a high and low ropes course.

At the end of the night, "awkward" was no longer part of the group's vocabulary. Giggling and flushed, happy girls spilled out into the wet night, already looking forward to next Monday, when they will start to rock climb!

The girls and women of Climbing Toward Confidence would like to thank Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company for the delicious pizza they donated.