Rock Climbing, Turning to Teamwork: on the face of a challenge
A Real Life Changing Experience
By Suzette McPherson, LCSW
Life here at DRG offers so many opportunities for growth and development. I just wanted to share an experience I had with the girls when we went rock climbing. I hope to enlighten you as to what can happen when people allow themselves to be open, caring and supportive. I know this experience touched me. It inspired me to be my best and it is my hope that you can believe in the potential of your girls that I see.
The weather was amazing. The best backdrop for what I would say was an exceptional day; crystal blue skies, bright sun, not too hot, not too cold and just right. In the week approaching this activity several of the girls had expressed their fear and concerns about the trip. I challenged them to put aside their fears and step up. I reminded them that to overcome fears one can’t entrap themselves in their past mistakes. We must recognize our faults, plan, take our time and go forth with determination.
My challenge was accepted with an eagerness that surpassed my expectations.
Today, they worked together as a well organized, supportive team. Several confident climbers took it upon themselves to pair up with those who were inexperienced. Friends stood by friends and at times joined up to those who they might have called their enemy. The girls cheered for one another throughout the day. When one would falter and slip, I observed them to pull together, united with a single purpose: support and uplift. When one girl froze in fear, another stopped to assist. It didn’t matter that she herself was struggling with her own fears at the time, she wanted to help. It was a true celebration as they both crawled, inching down the rock face.
In my job, I’m often seen as a coach, cheerleader and even teacher to these girls. I love what I do and I love these girls. Their willingness to face challenges humbles me. I never ask them to do anything I wouldn’t do myself. So today, I climbed.
To be honest, I started out well. I moved along and worked through the obstacles inherent to climbing with ease until I hit the proverbial wall. I felt and believed I could go no further. I could see the end, it was within my grasp but I couldn’t reach it. My arms and legs were shaking. I was tired, I was exhausted and I felt defeated. I verbalize my feelings to the girls and I’ll admit I wanted to give up. Then, I heard their voices. They were coaxing me forward. They told me that they believed in me and that they had my back. At that moment I came to a realization, in order to continue to be their teacher, I couldn’t allow myself to give up. How could I give up when I knew all of those girls believed in me? How could I quit after coming so far with the end in sight? Would they still trust me? Would they still be able to face their challenges if I, their teacher, wasn’t able or willing to face my own? There was only one solution left to me: I had to finish what I started. When one is hanging on the side of a rock you don’t feel like you have many options available. You either finish what you started, or you quit. Hearing their cheers, made my decision, I had to push on. I had to live, practice, and be what I had preached. With their support, I took the necessary step and found within me the strength to finish. As I write this I am overcome with emotions and I can still hear their cheers echoing in my heart.
Today we started as a group of individuals going out for fun. We came home as a team. I am sad to say that many may not remember the gifts of self they gave so sincerely and so completely. But I will use today’s lessons as examples of their hidden potential to remind them of who they are. Young women full of hope, perseverance and passion. I am thankful for the opportunity I have to be in the lives of these truly amazing girls, and I know if I stand in my own time of need, they will be there for me.