Written by Maddy Westbrook
Earlier this month SheJumps partnered with a local non-profit organization in New Mexico. Cottonwood Gulch is an organization that “sponsors educational wilderness expeditions and outdoor programs in the American Southwest that promote personal growth, scientific, historic, and cultural discover.” As a part of our North Face Explore grant, SheJumps sponsored an all girls youth initiative led by Cottonwood Gulch guides that focused on conquering fear, reaching goals, and having fun.
We took 10 girls ages 10-12 years old rock climbing at the Socorro Box Canyon climbing area. We had 3 top ropes as well as a repel rope set for the girls to use. Our day started off with excitement at the Cottonwood office parking lot, and as we reached our destination that excitement didn’t ever disappear. We went over safety, climbing instructions, and equipment before we began climbing.
Part of our instruction was to have each girl set a goal before they began climbing a certain line. We wanted them to visualize a part of the wall that they wanted to reach, once they reached that goal they could make the decision to come down or to continue climbing. After finally being fitted with helmets, shoes, and harnesses and after we checked equipment it was finally time to start climbing.
The girls had a blast climbing, and exploring surrounding caves and trails while accompanied by an adult on the trip. Laughs, and giggles, and encouragement bounced of the walls of the canyon and the excitement was contagious, not once did a smile leave any of our faces. The girls were encouraging each other and helping each other to find new footholds and handholds and to climb a little further.
At the end of the day after rallying everyone back together and removing equipment we had 10 smiling girls in front of us still laughing and talking excitedly, there faces covered in chalk and dirt. We debriefed after the day and talked about something about the day that was the most exciting and something that was also the most challenging. Almost all of the responses were that they most exciting part of the day was also the most challenging. We talked about conquering fear and having fun outdoors with other awesome girls.
SheJumps is incredibly excited to continue working with Cottonwood Gulch on future youth initiatives as well as other Outdoor Education events for women in New Mexico.