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Climbing down
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Ice bath
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First Sgt. Rhonda McDonald, of the 120th Adjutant General Battalion, glances at the top of Victory Tower as a young girl hesitates to finish rappelling down.

Shielding her eyes from the rays of the beaming sun, McDonald yells at her for encouragement:

"You can do it! You've got it!"

About 50 rising 10th and 11th grade girls from Columbia College's Summer Leadership Institute

traveled to Fort Jackson's Victory Tower July 14 to help build up their confidence in themselves.

Victory Tower is used as a tool to instill confidence in Basic Trainee Soldiers. It stands 40 feet

in the air.

This is an opportunity a lot of young girls don't get to experience.

"I wanted the girls to have an experience that they might not have otherwise," said Ashley Pullen, Program Coordinator for the center of Leadership at Columbia College. "I wanted them to be able

to experience something outside of their comfort zone and come together in teamwork."

Pullen said the majority of the girls in the institution are on financial-need scholarships.

"This kind of activity is important for young girls because it helps them see and build their strength," said McDonald, one of the escorts during their trip.

Rebeca Paz, 17, who's originally from Colombia and wants to eventually go back to her country to help fix the education issues, said she had a lot of fun and wanted to go through the course at least

two more times.

Kamryn Jenkins, 15, response to going through the course was "Oh, man!"

"I was really terrified of the high ropes, but now I like them," she said.

Staff Sgt. Crystal Matthews, of 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, one of three female drill sergeants supervising the event, said that the safety procedures they use for the girls were the same procedures used for Soldiers.

"A life is a life," she said, "There are no special treatments given to one group and not the other. We do our best to make sure any person is safe."