Find­ing their in­ner power

G.I.R.L.S. Power Camp has po­ten­tial to grow

The Delhi News-Record - - OPINION - MONTE SONNENBERG

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.

MONTE SONNENBERG/ DELHI NEWS RECORD

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.

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