Author: Alexis Willey

11 Amazing Reasons Why You Should Work for Go Girls! Camp

By now you might already know how amazing Go Girls! Camp is for the girls who join us each summer. Maybe your daughter continues to join us year after year. Or maybe you’ve attended one of our free webinars. Maybe you’re across the country, or the world, and while the Go Girls! in your life might not be able to attend camp, maybe you want to keep up with us anyway.

But what you might not already know is that working at Go Girls! Camp is just as fun as attending!

 

Help prepare girls to lead a Compassion Revolution

This one is a no brainer. Every day at Go Girls! Camp we use our own methodology to inspire and reinforce social/emotional skills in our campers. We do this in a variety of fun ways, and we break down what seems complicated into bite-sized pieces in our Culture Code.

 

Wear cool Go Girls! gear

Lets face it: Who doesn’t want to wear one of our amazing logos on every piece of clothing possible?! Our staff gets access to new designs, colors, and styles as well as an excuse to wear their gear as much as possible!

 

Make a play and change the world

Can a play really change the world? We definitely think so. Seeing the transformation many of our campers experience from the first day of camp to the moment they take their final bow is a pretty transformative experience for our staff members, too.

 

Gain amazing professional and personal development at staff training

We want our staff to feel empowered by their work at Go Girls! Camp, so our training is a lot more than camp policy and powerpoint presentations. You’ll immerse yourself in our program, Culture Code, and methodology as you make new friends and prepare your own play, just like our Go Girls! do.

 

Free massages mid-summer

At Go Girls! Camp we know that doing amazing, life-changing work is part of why our staff joins us and keeps returning for more. But we also know that work like that is HARD. So every summer our staff comes together for a little R-and-R, Go Girls! style.

 

Learn Kidpower

Go Girls! Camp works closely with Kidpower, an international leader in teaching positive, practical personal safety skills to protect people of all ages and abilities, both in our camps (during Kidpower sessions) and in our overall methodology. This partnership is great for our girls and staff members—we even find ourselves using Trash Can Power once in a while!

 

Work with an amazing team of artists

We think our staff members are the best of the best: inspiring leaders, compassionate teachers, and phenomenal artists. And you could join the ranks! Besides being talented in their respective disciplines, our expressive artists are generous teachers to campers and other staff.

 

End every day of camp with a dance party

Our camp days are pretty long and while they’re filled to the brim with fun activities, free play, and time to chill, we think the best way to end the day and prepare to start fresh in the morning is to have a camp-wide dance party! Now tell us, how many other jobs can offer that as a perk?

 

Practice mindfulness each day of camp

We love approaching all of our work from a place of mindfulness, but sometimes the day-to-day gets in the way. At Go Girls! Camp we not only emphasize this practice, we make special time for it. We think it’s a great way to reconnect, recharge, and avoid burnout.

 

Learn from Lynn and Allison

Our co-founders are amazing leaders and some of the most inspiring women we know. Working with Go Girls! Camp means working directly with and learning from Lynn and Allison. They’re always popping into camp, leading Kidpower workshops, and working with staff to make sure everyone is getting the most from their Go Girls! Camp experience.

 

Be celebrated for exactly who you are!

Our two-week camp leads up to the “big show” at each location, where Go Girls! not only create the story but also get to be who—or what—ever they want to be. Robot Monkey? Check. The President?  Duh. Robot Monkey President?  Why not? All we’re asking this summer is that they aim to #BeAmazing. And that goes for our staff members, too!

Are you sold? Check out our job openings here!

Dolls for All: Toys Like Me Campaign Pushes for Greater Representation

ad_169112219-e1431617156591The toy and game industry isn’t exactly a widely representative industry. There are a number of campaigns to remove the gender distinction from toys and to represent children’s interests, which are deeper than “boy” or girl.”

But another issue with today’s toys is that they don’t represent the multitudes of differences between individual kids. Toy Like Me, a Facebook campaign in the UK recently called for greater representation of children with disabilities. In response, the UK doll-maker Makies began producing accessories for their dolls, including hearing aids and canes, and developed a special doll with a birthmark.

Makie dolls are made-to-order dolls designed to look like their new owners and are available in both girl and boy characters. Gift givers can enter “Advanced Mode” to customize the doll down to the “ferocity” of its eyebrows (naturally the doll I created had incredibly ferocious eyebrows).

According to an article in Metro UK, Makies is currently developing a character with a wheelchair and hopes to develop a system for creating custom facial characteristics—meaning parents will soon be able to create a doll with the same birthmarks as their children!

While this is a victory for many, the Toy Like Me campaign is continuing to push for companies like Hasbro, Mattel, and other big companies to step up their representation, too.

What I Learned from All of My Life’s Mothers

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My momma and I. Look at that hair (and my lack thereof)!

My friends often joke with me about how much I love moms.

What I mean is, I love when my friends get to spend time with their moms (and dads and step-parents and the other amazing combinations of people who love them), and I love when I get to spend some of that time with them, too.

The most important thing I’ve learned while growing up is how amazing it is to have a positive relationship with your parents—and for me, as a woman, with my mother and the other women in my life. I know that everyone isn’t as lucky, that sometimes family just doesn’t meld well, or is a source of pain or stress or negative feeling.

But having some positive adult influences in your life, even if its a mentor, a friend’s family, or a neighbor is so huge.

Because these mommas are superheroes. I mean, they carry you around and feed you for much longer than most people are capable of doing anything consecutively, and then they force you out of a tiny hole in a very uncomfortable procedure just to have you poop all over them for the next few years. And sometimes they do it again so you can have someone to play with. If that’s not a superhero, I don’t know what is.

When you can find even just one momma who uses those powers to propel their babies through the first days, the new allergies and old tricks, the heartbreak and flunked classes, homesickness and first times for everything, hold on tight.

I don’t remember when I started calling my grade school best friend’s mother, Momma E., but what soon followed was a number of “mommas” I could call my own while I was playing with their kids, or calling home on their big house phones (what are those?) to see if I could sleep over, or while they gave us a ride home from a party or school dance, or when they, like my own mother, stayed up to greet us with water and snacks after late nights, just to be sure we made it home alright.

These mommas dealt with our petty bickering and relationship troubles, they soaked up tears, became sources of unfair-ness, and of laughter (usually at their expense) for the many children they adopted when they said, those many years ago: “Why don’t you invite your new friend over for dinner?”

254179_2070985982955_4580363_nAnd my own mom has shared those feelings and has bonded with those other daughters and sons and mommas over friendships and prom nights, during graduations and tough times. She has come home from the grocery store with my favorite snacks and a message from another of my mommas she ran into. But this original momma, she is teaching me everything I need to know about being the woman I want to be. Because I see that woman in little pieces in all of my mommas, but they are all tethered together in her. She taught me to be the Go Girl! I am, she just didn’t know it had a name until now.

And I know that Mother’s Day is just another Hallmark Holiday designed to test the (spending) strength of the love for our mommas. But it’s also the day I use to reach out to all of my life’s mommas: the women in my life who may not be my mother, but who care for me like one. It’s a day to celebrate the love and joy they bring to our lives, and also a day to make them brunch. Pancakes are the least we can do, don’t you think?

Dress Codes, What are They Good For?

thumbnail.aspSummertime is quickly approaching, which, when I was in school, always meant that it was time to switch out my wardrobe for fun prints, flowing skirts, and lighter fabrics.

Now (as well as then, but much less so) it also means the beginning of the annual campaigns to “tell girls they need to cover up their bodies” and the nation-wide fight back against ancient dress code rules (with the latest attack falling on leggings).

Dress codes are not a new issue. I still remember the three-finger rule to measure straps of our tank tops as well as the arms-length check for our shorts and skirts. And by our, of course, I mean us girls. Because for some reason, boys got away with wearing their pants below the waist and muscle t’s and gym shorts. Their anatomy wasn’t nearly as distracting to us girls as our bra straps would be to the boys.

I have a vague memory of some middle school assembly during which a male teacher got up to make some awkward complaint about the cut of our (in hindsight, extremely unfashionable) camisole-based outfits. At the time, I didn’t register the feelings of discomfort and body policing his comments created within me. I just assumed that of course our new 15-year-old boobs and waistlines would be distracting, albeit it was a little gross to hear from a teacher.DRESS_CODE

But over time, I stopped letting people make excuses for their misinformed sexism. And so did other girls. That’s why we see girls and their advocates fighting back when they’re told their outfits are inappropriate. Because I don’t want to live in a world where girls are no longer given a choice as to what they can and cannot wear and be deemed “appropriate.”

And dress codes are important in a sense. Without them, there wouldn’t be any value of measure. Things might spiral out of control. Girls might show up to Social Studies with too much visible thigh. But a dress code shouldn’t take aim at one gender specifically. And sure, maybe girls are more “at risk” for exposing a part of their bodies that others would find “distracting” and that’s why they are policed more than their male classmates.

For this reason, a lot of schools are relaxing their dress codes, or re-evaluating them to reflect today’s standards of fashion.

But do girls really need their school administrations to tell them what’s “appropriate”? Especially when these rules are enforced through humiliating calls to the principal’s office (which, honestly, are probably more distracting than the outfits themselves). We need administrators to teach students how to respect their classmates, if they really think these outfits are causing issues. We shouldn’t have to sit quietly and dress modestly so as not to distract our male classmates. They should be taught that a female body is not a distraction or a source of their pleasure without consent.

These cultural distinctions are learned, and maybe if we didn’t teach children at an elementary school level that girl’s bodies are a source of lust and therefore need to be covered up, the issue wouldn’t arise at a high school level. Maybe kids would just see clothing as clothing, and bodies as bodies. Maybe they already do.

How does your school treat dress code issues? Have you ever fought back against these double standards?

 

The Magical, Post-iPhone World

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So much fun to be had on those newfangled touchy blocks (my impression of someone who has never seen and iPhone before).

Interning with Go Girls! has been a blessing for me in a number of ways (working with an amazing company with a mission I stand behind firmly, endlessly supportive staff, being able to watch with company as it grows organically). But one benefit I overlooked was that it offered me a semester free of commuting into and out of Manhattan two or three days a week.

But this past weekend I decided to make use of public transportation to get from my university in Long Island to my house near Albany, NY. And while on trains and buses, I got to engage (a tiny bit) in the public transportation experience I used to love so much.

The best part, I think, is being able to watch families, couples, friends, and strangers interact. A person’s true colors are really exposed when they miss their connecting train or can’t get a seat next to a power outlet. But it makes you think about what things were like when we weren’t all connected to our phones and tablets. We couldn’t make quick business calls much to the despair of mothers with sleeping babies sitting two rows over. Our parents couldn’t check in every half hour to make sure things were going okay. Travel just happened, disjointed from the rest of the world, until you made it home and could get on your landline to check back in.

Last year at about this time, I had my phone stolen while eating at a cafe in Italy. I had never felt so panicked and violated in my life. I had to disconnect my cell service, and remotely lock phone, and I didn’t even know what to do after that. How would I begin to tell my parents that my passwords, my photos, and my main connection to the world at home were all in the hands of a toothless man trying to sell me a pair of pants?

The first "real" cell phone I ever had. I'm not even kidding.
The first “real” cell phone I ever had. I’m not even kidding.

But then being phone-less started to be kind of fun. I could still text my parents and friends from my computer if I needed to, and the world starts to look more beautiful when you don’t have a camera with you, but the disconnect from Facebook pings and Snapchat’s and the ability to mindlessly scroll through Twitter before class started to feel really freeing.

And I wish I could say that my experience changed everything about me and that I never use my phone anymore and that I replaced it with some old cell phone with a qwerty keyboard, but I am weak to innovation and things that allow me to pass the time while traveling.

But just remember that once, none of these apps existed. None of these websites existed. You called your friends on the phone, and sometimes left a message because your friend was not home and you couldn’t just check Find My Friends to see where they were. We’re living in the Wild West of technology development, so find a trusty steed, play it safe, and look up from your phone once in a while. It’s worth it.

 

Go Girls! Camp Testimonials: Azzia Walker

This guest post is written by Azzia Walker, a Go Girls! Advocate and Parent!

Group Shot March 2015 TestsI am a children’s aikido instructor at Aikido Shusekai in Berkeley. We train kids ages seven and up to be empowered, empathic, loving, disciplined warriors of peace. A special joy that we focus on is helping girls and women find their power and helping people in general transcend gender roles to find new creativity and ways of being and moving. As students deepen their practice , we work with them to set effective boundaries while maintaining their own sense of calm and center.

I first became aware of Go Girls! two years ago, as their Berkeley camp at JCC is only a few blocks from our home. My daughter was six that year, and it quickly became apparent that we were in the right place. Even at that young age, she was spirited, creative, loving, empathic, and empowered. We wanted a camp that would support and nurture these qualities, while giving her a chance to explore creative outlets, learn new skills, and make friends.

We got so much more than that. What particularly impressed me is how organized, competent, and loving the staff are. When emotional issues come up between campers, there is a process of working through it with a staff-member’s help. It includes art, talking, and resolution. That sort of work, turning conflict into grace through creativity and collaboration, is much like aikido. It is beautiful, sacred work.

The camp is full of good role models for our daughter, from the managers to the staff to the teens who assist. We would love for her to become a teen staffer, if she so chooses, down the line. Between summers we have a great time hearing our kid talk about “the media,” body image, and being strong and healthy. Looking forward to our third summer with Go Girls – this was the first and most important camp we booked!

“Strong is the New Pretty” Aims to Capture All It Means to Be a Girl

slide_343355_3563203_freeI can’t remember a time when I wasn’t self conscious about my weight, height, hair texture, bra size, sense of style, or any number of other things society decided was “right.” Things I didn’t have, or want, or couldn’t afford.

Photographer Kate T. Parker is attempting to capture all that is authentic about being a girl—not the pretty or delicate, but the strength and boldness that starts to dissolve as young girls grow older in a society that is so demanding of women to be a certain way.

Kate aimed to capture the childhood experiences of her daughters and their friends as authentically as possible: “I wanted this series of images to show their boldness, their strength and the beauty in them, as they are…You don’t need to be pretty, perfect or compliant to be loved.”slide_343355_3563201_free

This message is such an important one, and it aligns well with the Go Girls! message. You don’t have to be anything, which is increasingly more difficult to remember as you get older and the Internet is awash with style gurus, makeup artists, celebrities, and endless sources of inspiration (and people telling you who to be). It’s hard to keep track of who you actually are or want to be.

Check out Kate’s project here (which is beautiful) for a personal reminder why strong (or quiet, or bold, or goofy, or whatever else) really is the new pretty. 

Why I Wish I Had Been A Go Girl!: Choosing Your Role in Life

by Guest Blogger and Go Girls! Camp Teaching Artist, Caroline Parsons

The first starring role I had in a play was the Ugly Duckling in 4th Grade. According to my interpretation, she had a Brooklyn accent, wore flippers and shiny spandex, and made the audience guffaw uproariously with her antics. It may have been the most fun role of my acting career. Second to that, my favorite role to play was Macbeth, an opportunity thrust upon me because I went to a women’s college where we played all the men’s parts. It was bloody, physically strenuous and exhilarating. After college though, the real world often cast me as the girlfriend, the quirky woman looking for love, or the princess, with names like Tiffany, Allison, and Jessica.  I lost that expansive feeling of embodying characters that I was not able to play based on my age, looks, and gender. That radically fun and empowering role playing of my youth had been transformed into the serious game of being who people wanted me to be, even during my make believe career as an actor.

Imagine my delight when, four years ago, as a new Teaching Artist with Go Girls!, I was asked to act out the following “characters” during our teacher training: Justice, Friendship, Loneliness and… a pig. Yes, the regular old oink oink kind of pig. I was fully re-immersed in the boundless imagination of theater-making! As I played with this group of talented Teaching Artists, I refound the joy I had felt playing in my younger years. Playing characters that were non-traditional allowed me to remember that making theater, and teaching theater to people, is about creating compassion. When girls (and all people) get to act out the story of someone or something that they perceive as “other” than them, they empathize with the other so deeply that those perceived boundaries collapse. As I high fived my scene partner, the other pig, I knew I had arrived with the right group of people

There is one particular aspect of the Go Girls! program that I wish I had personally experienced growing up: the campers choose their own characters in the play that we create and perform. Returning campers will often run into camp on the first day and with maniacal intensity say, “Do you know what I’m going to be this year?!!!??” I don’t, of course, since it’s up to them, but they know, and they are really excited about it. My role is to support them in becoming that character through staging and acting skills, not to tell them who to be. Looking back on my own theater training and career, I realized that no one had ever asked me: who do you want to play? or who do you want to be? And I wish that someone had. Afterall, it’s not that far a leap from choosing to play a character from your imagination, to living your life as the person you know yourself to be inside.

And one word about princesses, the childhood version of all the “Tiffanys” that I played, because there tend to be a lot of girls who want to be princesses in the play! At first I was concerned that the playing of princesses was, well, not empowering. But …the power is in the choosing. It’s different to play a princess because you’re a girl and therefore you’re supposed to play the princess role, than it is to say, “ I am a princess!” no matter what anyone may say to the contrary. Especially when it’s okay if that princess is also a cat or only wears tennis shoes or anything else that you may know about princesses that the canon of Disney films has forgotten. The power is in the choosing.

I hope that everyone, big and small, gets the opportunity to play and choose like a Go Girl! sometime! And in my experience, the sooner the better.

 

Black Girls Rock! Event Hits Airwaves Next Week

(AP Photo/BET, Scott Weiner)
(AP Photo/BET, Scott Weiner)

This past weekend was a big one for award shows. The internet is ablaze with recaps from Saturday night’s Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards, but a lesser talked about (yet equally important) award ceremony took place Sunday afternoon!

The 2015 Black Girls Rock! event aims empower young women of color by celebrating successful women “who have made outstanding contributions in their careers, and who stand as inspirational and positive role models in their communities.” Honorees at this year’s awards include actors Cicely Tyson and Jada Pinkett Smith, “Selma” director Ava DuVernay, and more!

Michelle Obama also spoke at the event, commenting on the importance of continued education and commenting on the self-doubt felt by many young women of color, saying that “no matter who you are, no matter where you come from, you are beautiful.”

Black Girls Rock! is a “non-profit youth empowerment and mentoring organization established to promote the arts for young women of color, as well as to encourage dialogue and analysis of the ways women of color are portrayed in the media.” The organization aims to enrich lives through mentorship, arts education, cultural exploration and public service.

Make sure to check out all of the performances, speeches, and general awesome-ness at Black Girls Rock! when it airs next Sunday April 5 on BET!

Change the World, One Idea at a Time

imageOne of the most amazing things about the Internet is the ability we have to connect with people all over the world: to share stories, gather inspiration, and make a difference. There are articles and lists of influential women popping up every day, but even these inspiring stories can make us feel like our daily efforts are meaningless.

Being a young activist/feminist/Go Girl! isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s hard to wrap your head around doing anything world-changing in between taking biology classes and studying for state exams. The influential women we’ve been celebrating this month are successful, revolutionary, and most of them are all grown up. 

And you may have these ideas for innovating your school’s lunch line system, supporting a local organization, or for setting up an adoption clinic for stray animals, but you feel like you’re too young, or that no one will take you seriously, or that you’re unprepared and stupid and the idea isn’t good enough and—

stop.

Take a breath, and start again. Because even one small step in the direction of your goals is so huge, especially if it feels tiny and unimportant. Just putting your ideas out into the world—no matter how fresh, or unfleshed, or far from the final plan they are—makes them real. It holds you accountable, even if your dog is the only one you’ve told. It creates momentum in the universe. It motivates you to build upon it, or to create something new. And most importantly, it challenges you.

So take the next step, even if you’re afraid of the feedback. Find the people who support your plans, can help you build upon them, and who will set your ideas in motion. You can be the next Emma Watson, Roxane GaySusan B. Anthony, or any form of influential you want to be!