Finding their inner power
G.I.R.L.S. Power Camp has potential to grow
Organizers of the annual G. I. R. L. S. Power Camp would like to trademark the name, standardize the curriculum, and offer it beyond Haldimand and Norfolk.
Haldimand and Norfolk are unique for offering the threeday camp for Grade 8 girls.
It’s been going on now for about 20 years and no one else has anything like it. There is interest outside the area for something similar and organizers often talk about the good it would do catering to a wider audience.
Haley Wilson of HaldimandNorfolk Women’s Service in Simcoe is a member of the camp’s steering committee. Organizers frequently receive inquiries from parents outside the area. There isn’t room at the present but Wilson hopes that changes someday.
“I think it has a lot of potential to grow,” Wilson said at the latest camp, which took place this weekend at Camp Trillium in Waterford.
“It’s definitely got some buzz going. Hopefully it will grow. That would be my dream job.”
Wilson and her colleagues would like to trademark the name because others have borrowed it and advertised camps of their own with different programming.
For the most part, Wilson says the copy- cats are for adolescent girls with weight and bodyimage issues. The local steering committee would like to end the confusion.
The local camp delivers life skills for adolescent girls about to enter high school. A total of 54 girls from across the two counties signed up for this weekend’s instalment.
They were divided into groups of five or six and teamed with senior high school student “facilitators.”
Police and other experts were brought in to speak about peer pressure, social media, bullying, and dealing with the anxieties and frustrations of being a teenager in a rapidly- changing world.
There were also seminars on the importance of healthy eating and exercise and developing healthy relationships. A major objective is helping participants keep things in perspective while promoting self-esteem and emotional well- being.
A big part of that, Daley said, is teaching girls to treat each other with respect regardless of what they think of each other. Daley says it is no secret that adolescent girls can be mean and that this is just hurtful and unnecessary.
Some of this weekend’s facilitators attended the camp when they were in Grade 8. Jane Rodger, 17, a student at Simcoe Composite School, was one of them.
“I made a lot of new friends,” she said. “I definitely learned to step out of my shell. I was shy, but I loved the high rope climbing and the scrapbooking.”
Some girls didn’t want to attend but their parents signed them up anyway. Megan Demeulemeester, a Grade 8 student at St. Frances School in Delhi, was one of them. By lunch last Friday, Demeulemeester had changed her mind.
“I didn’t want to come, but the groups are really fun,” she said. “And we are learning a lot.”
Participants camped out in the cabins at Camp Trillium. A highlight of the weekend was a pajama dance party Saturday with live music performed by Saidat! Sunday morning was a time for reflection, packing up, and jotting a short essay about what was great about the weekend and not so great.
Organizers think a refresher Power Camp for high school girls about to enter college or university would complement what they are doing with Grade 8’s. They also think a similar camp for boys has a lot of potential.
“If there are any men reading this who would want to do a boys camp get in touch with me and I can help set them up,” Wilson said. “That would be important, but women can’t run a boys camp.”
G. I. R. L. S. stands for “growth, independence, respect, leadership and self-esteem.” Partnering with women’s services this past weekend were Norfolk County and Haldimand-Norfolk REACH.
Fun, games and life-coaching were on the agenda of this weekend’s annual G.I.R.L.S Power Camp at Camp Trillium in Waterford. A total of 54 Grade 8 girls from across Haldimand and Norfolk were teamed with 28 high school seniors for a fun weekend designed to prepare the Grade 8’s for the challenges of high school and beyond. Among those taking part were Jane Rodger (left) of Simcoe Composite School, and Natalie Suprun of Lakewood Elementary School in Port Dover.