CMC teaches teen-agers leadership through adventure |

CMC teaches teen-agers leadership through adventure

LEADVILLE – Sometimes it takes hanging off a rope or falling into whitewater to realize the stuff of which character is made.

Forty middle and high school students from western Colorado found that out in July when they participated in a six-day, experiential learning adventure that teaches leadership skills at Colorado Mountain College’s Timberline Campus in Leadville.

“The whole program is about leadership and using those tools you learned at home, in schools and in your community,” said First Ascent founder Mariana Velasquez-Schmahl, who noted the popular program is in its eighth year. The summer leadership program has been so successful it’s now expanded into a year-long leadership program.

The students came from middle and high schools in the Roaring Fork Valley, Buena Vista, Leadville, Vail, Salida, Steamboat Springs and Summit County.

The students were chosen by their teachers, principals and counselors to learn leadership skills that Fortune 500 companies pay thousands to teach their employees.

Students who participate in the First Ascent Youth Leadership summer program learn extensively about team-building. The various program experiences showed the students how to lead, be confident in themselves and become successful through goal-setting and persistence.

The week consisted of challenging outdoor activities as well as leadership and academic learning.

Students bunked at the Leadville campus dorms and got ready for a week’s worth of adventure, rock-climbing, rafting down the Arkansas river, climbing Mount Elbert – Colorado’s highest peak – as well as leadership group activities. The final day was reserved for closing reflections from each student.

Summit High School student Ali Kreamelmeyer said climbing Mount Elbert taught her that a positive attitude can take you far.

“I had never climbed a fourteener mountain,” she said.

“It was a tough challenge, intense. But it was fun because we went up as a team, and we were the first team to make it to the summit, and the first team in five years (of the leadership program) to summit as a team instead of individuals.”

She said their success was due to a positive attitude. “Not only does it help other people, but it helps you,” Kreamelmeyer said. “I notice that at work, that if I have an upbeat attitude, I can help others get through a tough day.”

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