The words flew out of mouth like they were speeding through a yellow light. They surprised me as a heard them. The tone in my voice made me cringe. It was a little condescending and a lot aggressive. For days after I hurled those words at someone, I could not stop replaying the interaction in my mind or decide how I felt about it. So I reached out to my community for their perspective. I told them the whole story, which went something like this…
With music up, ear buds in, working in a cafe in Oakland, I was interrupted by a woman. I noticed her the moment I walked in and stood in line to order my latte. She was striking. Colorful clothing and adorned by big statement jewelry. I also noticed her almost-mohawk hairstyle. Very cool. After sitting near her for about an hour, she walked over to me and asked me a question. I missed it because of the ear buds.
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.
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 GoGirls! 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.
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!
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.
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?”
And 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 theleast we can do, don’t you think?
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?
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.
I have almost always lived with animals—primarily cats, but dogs, too, and hamsters, gerbils, fish, birds, and a most social tortoise named Miss Speedy. During those times in my life when I didn’t live with an animal I was always planning about how I would get one. Early diagnoses of asthma and allergies were no deterrent. There is no question that I am a far happier person and a far better person loving and caring for an animal than I would be otherwise.
There is tons of evidence that children benefit from interacting with animals. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology writes on its website, “Positive relationships with pets can aid in the development of trusting relationships with others. A good relationship with a pet can also help in developing non-verbal communication, compassion, and empathy.”
A recent One Green Planet article focuses on some powerful women doing extraordinary work in the U.S. animal rescue and sanctuary movement. Ellie Laks, the founder of The Gentle Barn in Tarzana, CA, makes it part of her mission to teach children from all walks of life, socio-economic backgrounds, and children with differing physical abilities.
Hundreds of children have learned kindness and compassion through interacting with the animals there. To this end, she and her team have developed amazing programs to give these children opportunities to spend time with and care for a variety of animals at the Gentle Barn. This nurturing haven is the result of a dream Laks herself dreamed when she was just 7 years old.
Even if your family can’t house an animal in your home, your community provides many ways for children to care for, educate themselves about, and become empowered for our fellow creatures. Check out these tips from Natural Resources Defense Council. Call your local animal shelter and ask how kids can help the rescued animals there. Help your children learn how to responsibly pet-sit for neighbors. Google the day and summer camps offered by your local zoo. Check out books from the library on a wide variety of animals and their habitats. Make a point to research the particular wildlife living in the region where your family likes to camp or hike. The more children are offered such opportunities, the more their hearts expand. The knowledge they gain will keep them curious about, and invested in, the lives and environments of all of us who call this sweet old world Home.
Summer camp is a coming of age experience for kids all over the world. It’s in camp that many children have their first opportunity to discover their true identities outside of the expectations of their parents or teachers. Although I didn’t attend many camps when I was young, I did work in many programs for over a decade. The most satisfying part of my work was observing the transformation of the campers from their first nerve-filled day all the way through to the end of the summer where they’re exhibiting confidence that only comes from a deep level of comfort and relationship building.
As we inch closer to our summer season, and the start of Go Girls! Camp, I asked a few of my friends to share their favorite camp memories with me.
“When I was in a Girl Scout camp and we all got to stargaze with telescopes. So much fun! Also – another is when we created banners for each group with paint etc. and then we shared them together and voted for the best one.” –Tazim Damji Being Tazim
“I remember shooting my very first arrow at summer camp. When we had the option to learn archery, I was so excited! It was something that I’d never thought I would learn, and at the ripe old age of 10, I ended up excelling at it! I’ll never forget that summer.” –Amiyrah Martin 4 Hats and Frugal
“My favorite camp memory is that we went to vacation Bible School each summer and made really cool arts and crafts projects.” –Janeane Davis Janeane’s World
“My mom forced me to go to camp one summer. I made up my mind to hate it. A group of girls I didn’t know, no electricity, food I wouldn’t like, OUTDOOR activities, the list could go on. I spent the first day ignoring everyone and pouting. One of the returning campers refused to let me be miserable. She made it her point to include me and make conversation even though I was being a brat. I broke at dinner when she made the most horrible joke you couldn’t help but laugh at. The rest is history – we became “camp sisters” and she remains one of my best friends to this day. Those two weeks ended up being the absolute best time ever and we cried like babies when it was time to go home.” –Michelle Garrett Divas With A Purpose
“I remember the summer between 8th grade and high school where I got to play a wicked step sister in an original Cinderella type story called “The Prince & I” It was awesome.” –Lynn Johnson Go Girls! Camp (Co-Founder) and Raising A Go Girl
“I went to an outdoor sleep away camp for four years in a row. It was awesome! We would do arts and crafts out of natural materials, learn about the flora and fauna, hike, swim, play games and best of all… share skits around the campfire. I was known for my impressions. I loved performing with and for a close knit group of girls (you became bffs at camp), making them laugh, and feeling supported.” –Julie Douglas Go Girls! Camp (Teaching Artist)
What is your favorite summer camp memory? Share below in the comments!
I 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.”
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.
I hurt my knees three weeks ago doing something in a movement class I knew I shouldn’t. I’ve never had any trouble with my knees, even after years of running, dancing, and tumbling. So I’m icing them like a fiend, popping ibuprofen at regular intervals, and switching over to swimming.
Sitting with ice packs a few nights ago, I had a good look at my knees. I noticed a scar on my left one I got while riding a bike down Oriole Street. I was five and didn’t yet have a two-wheeler of my own. I didn’t know the bike couldn’t brake and, trying to stop, I flew over the handlebars. The bloody knee hurt like anything, but I was okay. I think I got back on the bike. I also have a faint white scar on the top of one of my ankles. It’s from when I lay stomach-down on the seat of a swing, twisted myself up as tight as I could and let go. I spun at light speed, only stopping when my ankles skidded across the concrete gouge where sand should’ve been. The instep of my left foot bears a purple mark I got from a piece of glass. Nobody ever wore shoes during the summer. We were tanned on top and callused on the bottom. All the boys and girls were a fierce and merry little band of men, raising polliwogs, visiting the bulldog family in the alley, checking on the decay of a dead black cat.
We were girls and we were boys and we were the same.
When I was a boy I seldom had long hair, and a new set of sneakers could set me running faster than anybody.
When I was a boy I rode my Big Wheels tricycle all the way to Richard’s house, before I turned 6 and got my yellow Schwinn Fair Lady. Then I was flying to 7-11 for Big Daddy bubble gum and Tootsie Rolls.
When I was a boy I painted masterpieces at a huge easel, and dug for gold with my sister in our sliver of a backyard, next to the sunflowers. When I was a boy I wore Toughskins jeans, and played with a Tonka jeep and a Fischer-Price airport. I piloted a jetliner! I could climb to the top of the hanging ropes faster than the twins, Kyle and Carl, when I was a boy…
…Except I was a girl, and didn’t have to pretend, then, that all of it belonged to me. It just did. When did we all have to begin to choose a side? Maybe at 12 when my light had to be refracted through separate lenses, and only select rays could fall. Resisting this half-life, I brushed my hair down over my eyes, covered my body in shapeless clothes, wore my eyeglasses like a disguise. The boy and the girl partially smothered, partially tapping out an S-O-S in Morse code: Save Our Self! we said. We’re saying it still, pulsing the message into the palm of each other’s hand…