By Matt Kroschel

CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Some adults are coming together to teach student leadership skills and empowerment to middle school girls in Chaffee County.

(credit: CBS)

With each reach, Caroline Woddell inches closer to the top of the rock wall face of the mountain.

Woddell is one of 21 middle school girls taking part in the “elevateHER” program in Salida and Buena Vista this summer. The nonprofit focuses on training young girls on how to build meaningful relationships through outdoor adventure and challenges together.

(credit: CBS)

It’s the brainchild of Kristen Van Norman who says in their first year they have already noticed the difference the program is making in the community, and the word is getting out.

Now girls in Leadville want to take part, but the funding isn’t there just yet to allow that to happen.

(credit: CBS)

“This allows you to push yourself out of your comfort zone. It’s challenging,” Woddell told CBS4 as she rock climbed Tuesday.

ElevateHER teaches important life lessons through outdoor adventure like rock climbing, rafting, yoga and healthy eating.

CBS4’s Matt Kroschel interviews Kristen Van Norman. (credit: CBS)

“You can just see so much growth. The personality… They have more confidence. They’re willing to push themselves,” Van Norman said.

The program costs these girls $50 for an entire summer full of adventure, and they meet three times a week. Local businesses and private donations cover the rest of the costs associated with making the program a reality.

(credit: CBS)

“We wanted to create a program that brought girls together,” Van Norman added.

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Meaningful relationships built while out in the wild — learning from the adults who share their knowledge about the extreme sports and so much more.

“I have a waiting list, and it is significantly longer. A bunch of girls from Leadville want to get on the program, but we just don’t have the capacity. We just don’t have the funding to do so just yet.”

LINK: elevateHER

Matt Kroschel covers news throughout Colorado working from the CBS4 Mountain Newsroom. Send story ideas to and connect with him on Twitter @Matt_Kroschel.


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