By: Staci Batterson
Last week we held our first Shine Girl Camp for middle school girls. It was such an incredible three days filled with loads of laughter, vulnerability, passion, and the general silliness that comes with middle school girls. It was more fun than I could have ever imagined and it was an experience that I will not soon forget. I am sure that the girls that attended camp learned a lot during the three days they spent with us and I am quite sure that we learned just as much, if not more, from them.
I could probably write a whole book on the lessons I learned last week, but for the sake of our blog readers, I will share just a few highlights with you;
Whether you are 13, 33, or 73 many of us have the same fears and struggles. Certain things will always stress us out, make us question ourselves, or force us to evaluate the relationships in our lives. Certainly with age and experience we gain wisdom and confidence but deep down we all want to be loved and have close female friends that will love us unconditionally.
It takes a village, and I am not just referring to it taking a village to raise strong, confident, independent young women (although it absolutely does). Putting together a camp of this magnitude took the vision, brain power, educational and social/emotional expertise, and the grit and determination of several women. I learned very quickly that I could never do this on my own (nor would I want to) and had an incredible team of women to help orchestrate summer camp. When the right people with different sets of strengths in your tribe come together for a larger purpose, magic will happen. Trust me on this one.
Speaking of grit and determination, this wasn’t our first attempt at Shine Girl Summer Camp. Last year we wanted desperately to host an overnight camp for high school girls and we did everything we knew how to do to make it happen. In the end, our efforts were not enough and we were out a lot of time and even more money. It would have been incredibly easy to throw in the towel at that point and allow this dream to die. Trust me, there were plenty of times that I wanted to, but we didn’t. We got back up, brushed off the dirt, made some changes and tried again. We had 25 girls attend camp last week. 25 girls that were impacted by the work we are doing. I know we are going to continue to grow our movement as we move forward. So, when things don’t go your way even when you feel like you have given it your all, get back up and try again. Eventually you will get it right, I promise. The most successful people I know simply refuse to give up on their dreams when everyone else around them has.
I am incredibly blessed to be in the profession that I am in. As an educator, I have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of hundreds of students each year, and sometimes I have students that come back and share with me that I indeed, did make a difference in their lives. Last week at camp, I was able to see the difference that Shine Girl is making in action. Two former Shine Girls came back to help lead summer camp. Both of these girls are incredibly busy college students with full-time summer jobs, yet they took time out of their schedules to give back to the next generation of young women. I can’t tell you how many times I got chills last week watching them share their stories with the middle school girls. Their presence at camp reaffirmed that we are doing is the right work and we are making an impact on our community. It was such a great reminder to me that when things get hard and when I feel like there simply are not enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished, I have to keep going. The work is too important.
Last, but certainly not least, I was reminded of all the incredible women and men that are helping to support Shine Girl and the message we are spreading. Whether you sent your daughter to camp last week, are reading and sharing this blog, or are simply cheering us on from the sidelines, we are SO SO grateful for your support. We couldn’t do it without each of you in our tribe and we can’t WAIT for what is in store next for Shine Girl! Thank you to each and every one of you.