This summer, we added two new camps to our roster. These camps are empowerment camps aimed at inspiring the campers to be their best selves and reach their fullest potential. Last week, we hosted our first ever Girl’s Empowerment Camp and we couldn’t have been happier with how successful it was! Not only did we bond and share our stories of personal struggle but, we set goals and talked about issues that women face in today’s society.
“Having confidence is important. Don’t let others shoot you down. You define yourself.”15 Year Old Camper
We started off the week with a wonderful guest speaker, Shanell Robinson! Shanell had a rough childhood and home life but she was determined to change that. She worked her way through college at Sam Houston State. Since then, she has been successful working at Corpus Christi Animal Control and making a positive impact on the lives of local animals. She spoke to us about how she didn’t let her home life get her down and how she kept on pushing herself to do better. The girls (and staff) were really inspired by her testimony.
After Shanell spoke, we did an activity called the River of Life. We each drew a river that illustrated us and our past experiences that had helped to shape us into who we are. For example, a boulder in the river could represent an obstacle we had to overcome or a struggle we faced. Once everyone was done drawing, we presented our rivers to each other. This was an emotional time for most of us, but we were all proud of each other for opening up and sharing. This activity really helped us to bond and break down some walls we had built to protect ourselves. Now we were ready for the rest of the week to build ourselves back up, stronger than we were before.
The next day, we hit the ropes course to challenge ourselves, grow as a team and gain self confidence. During the low elements when we were working together we got to talk a lot about issues that women face in the work force and in society today. After some in-depth conversations and lunch, we started highs elements! The girl’s had such a blast on the two line bridge and the zip line. Some were a little fearful at first but everyone pushed themselves to accomplish more than they thought they could. The girls had earned themselves some down time, so we headed back to camp to decompress and enjoy dinner together.
“I learned that surrounding yourself with positive people allows you to be positive.”13 Year Old Camper
Our second guest speaker, Carolina Sizemore came to talk to us the following morning. She shared her passion with us, which is keeping young girls safe and empowering them to reach their goals. Carolina is a local Corpus Christi Life Coach and motivational speaker. She is also very involved in human trafficking awareness campaigns, and often speaks to law enforcement groups about how to help and identify young women in trouble. After Carolina motivated us to set goals and never stop working toward them, we started our Legacy Activity. Everyone got a wooden puzzle piece and drew their goals, aspirations and who they are/want to be on them. These girls had some big goals and we are proud of them for taking steps to achieve them!
On our last full day of camp, we took a break from all of our hard work and relaxed at Lake Corpus Christi. We had a good time playing games, swimming and grilling hot dogs for lunch! It was a beautiful day and the water was nice and cool. After getting back from the lake, we showered and relaxed around camp and just enjoyed each other’s company before building a campfire to make dinner.
Graduation was bittersweet. Everyone was pretty heavyhearted to have to say goodbye to their new friends. We had bonded so well as a group, it felt almost wrong to leave each other so soon. But nonetheless, we said our goodbyes, reflected on the week and of course exchanged phone numbers and Instagram accounts.
“I love that we talked about celebrating who we are as girls, because I definitely struggle with embracing who I am sometimes.”17 Year Old Camper
We had more than a couple of campers who were nervous about this camp. They were scared to open up to their peers about struggles they’ve faced and they didn’t know how to feel about getting introspective and learning about themselves. In the end, all of these girls did a phenomenal job at facing those fears. At the end of the week, we all noticed them holding their heads up a little higher. This camp was a total success! So successful in fact, not only are we planning on brining it back next summer, a winter empowerment retreat has been discussed. This will be a great way to revitalize our youth year round. Tomorrow, we kick off the counterpart to Girl’s Empowerment, OutdoorsMEN camp. We expect the boys to have a great time and gain the confidence they need to reach their goals.