In today’s age of growth and improvement, we realize more and more each day the importance of educating and encouraging our youth. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s research shows that ages 9 through 11 is a critical age range for guiding young girls to bright futures. Seeing this need, Focus Empowering Women set out to empower girls in the Mobile community.
Camp Girl is a one-day camp presented by Focus with the goal of educating and empowering young girls in the Mobile area. With the help of Distinguished Young Women, a national scholarship program that strives to give every young woman the opportunity to further her education and prepare for a successful future, 14 girls attended the first Camp Girl in July of 2018.
Camp Girl is a one-day camp presented by Focus with the goal of educating and empowering young girls in the Mobile area
The camp is designed to give the girls a lesson in all areas of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) and other essential skills.
Engineers from Mott MacDonald taught the girls what it is like to design and construct their own building. They were given a set of instructions and set off with their creative minds to create a stable structure that could withstand an earthquake. The girls drew out blueprints, consulted with an engineer, and came up with a supply list of what they would need. Supplies consisted of coffee straws and marshmallows. The girls used these unconventional building supplies to construct a tower, then set it on a pan of quaking Jello to test its durability through an earthquake. Each team built a successful tower, with a few even lasting through the “earthquake.” This experiment taught them the importance of having a plan before beginning a project.
Art is one underutilized outlet for young girls to use to express themselves. Artists Ardith Goodwin and Shauna Meiri showed the girls how to create their very own art journals. They began by finding their inspiration for their journal. Some girls were inspired by the natural beauty of flowers while others found inspiration in colors or animals. They painted their journals and pasted in magazine cutouts that fit with their individual inspirations. Finally, they added a more personal touch by writing in their journals. In the end, each girl had a journal that she could take home and finish with her family.
Author Emily Blejwas introduced the girls to creative writing and all the benefits that come with it. Blejwas says that creative writing is an excellent way to express yourself and to relax. They began by reading three poems and discussing the meaning of each. Blejwas told the girls that despite popular belief, anyone can write poetry, since it is all about the writer’s inner thoughts and emotions. Next, they sat down and wrote their own poems and shared them with each other. The girls learned that they don’t have to be professional writers in order to do creative writing. They went home with a skill that they can carry with them throughout their life in all types of writing.
In the growing world of social media, it is important for girls to know how to protect themselves online. Jennifer Eckman, director of marketing and communications at USA Hospitals and Mitchell Cancer Institute, gave a brief talk about how to stay safe on social media.
One thing that often gets overlooked with girls is having a voice. The girls got into groups for a friendly debate on topics such as pizza vs hamburgers and dancing vs singing. No matter which one the girls personally liked better, they had to debate on the topic that their group was assigned. This gave them experience in learning to come up with supporting evidence for topics that they may or may not support, which is something that adults often have to do in their daily lives.
Budgeting is something that not many people talk about with young kids, but it is important to instill it in to their minds while they are young. Camp Girl taught the girls the benefits of having a savings account over using a piggy bank, easy ways to earn money at their age, and how to start saving for college and even retirement.
To end the day, the girls got together for an empowering dance party with each other. After a full day of getting to know each other, the girls made friends who they otherwise may never have met. They learned about each other and found out that despite any differences they may have, they all had similarities.
Center for Disease Control & Prevention – Positive Parenting Tipshttps://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/positiveparenting/middle2.html