We live in a society that sometimes struggles to provide girls with positive role models. Certain pressures can force young girls to try and become something that they are not simply to fit in. Girls think they need to be prettier, richer, skinnier, smarter, quieter, louder — the list goes on and on. The point is, we never feel like the person we are is good enough because we’ve been told over and over that we’re not. This is why when I heard about Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls at the Party program I was so excited. The motto for Amy’s program is “Change the world by being yourself.” How refreshing. Check out the episode below of Smart Girls in which Amy highlights the cool things about being outdoors, something we care a lot about at camp!
Kudos to Amy Poehler for letting girls know that not only are they OK as they are, but that by being themselves, they are exceptional.
Whether we have children or not, we are always in a position to change the world. Every day, we can choose to engage in ways that can inspire a younger generation. A few small changes in our own lives can make a world of difference to the girls who look up to us. We can teach the girls in our lives to take themselves seriously while continuing to navigate through a fun, playful life full of meaning and love.
Ignore More Mirrors
The time we spend plucking, primping, analyzing, pulling, highlighting, and altering our appearance in front of a mirror speaks volumes to our daughters. Learning to appreciate our own natural image will help our daughters understand the beauty in who they are- just as they are.
Read More Books
Engaging ourselves intellectually and emotionally through literature encourages our daughters to do the same. Books allow us to travel to exotic places and meet new people. More than that, however, books introduced us to topics and emotions that we may not ever experience through everyday living. With every page we turn, our daughters watch us elevate our worldview and sense of self-worth.
Becoming politically informed isn’t about conflict, left-wing versus right-wing, it’s about community. Demonstrating to our daughters that we know and care about politics puts into place a lesson in altruism- people and things exist beyond our own social circles and we should care about them.
Find A New Hobby
Learn a language, take a cooking class, start fishing, or camping, or painting, or playing tennis. Do something new, anything new. We help to open the world up for our daughters when we move beyond our own comfort zone.
Compliment Beyond Clothes
Move away from compliments that highlight physical appearance- that cute bow, those beautiful curls, new shoes. We can value our daughters with praise founded on their intellectual accomplishments, conversation style, and athletic or artistic feats. We can help our daughters move away from a life of being pretty and into to a life of doing good.
Calculate Tip Without a Calculator
More women than ever are moving into the math and science sectors of the workforce. Practicing mental math in front of our daughters make numbers and logic commonplace. Long division is nothing to be scared of!
Get angry. It’s not an emotion we should hide from our daughters. Things will upset us. We can let our daughters watch us experience anger without any shame or guilt attached to the emotion. We can also demonstrate to them how to process anger in a healthy, productive way.
Laugh daily and laugh loudly. We can bring joy into our own lives by teaching our daughters that life is funny and lovely. Shining bright and living hard not only lightens up our own path, but may even illuminate the way for those following in our footsteps.
You can apply these anytime! Whether it’s working at camp or living your broader life, you can make a difference.
The other day, I overheard a couple of campers claiming the strangest thing. “I used Wonder Woman! and I used Beyoncé,” they said. Apparently there are girls also using Michelle Obama, Joan of Arc, Pocahontas, and the Queen of England. “How?” you ask? Well, these are the names of our showers this year. On all three lines, the counselors have chosen to name each shower for a strong, powerful woman. You can see the Middler line showers in this photo. Mostly this is just for fun, but also I suspect, as is true for a lot of the fun at camp, there’s inspiration and imagination to be found as well. Playful ideas like this make even something ordinary— like a shower stall —so much better.
Muffin Break! That’s the time between the first and second activity periods when everyone at camp enjoys a delicious, often warm, muffin freshly delivered from Katie’s oven in the kitchen. It’s always a surprise to find out the morning’s flavor because Katie is a master at creating one-of-a-kind combination flavors. Today she wowed us with “Banana Pudding,” a muffin reminiscent of banana bread but, like a bowl of pudding might be served, with a vanilla wafer poking out the top. So Yummy! Thinking about tomorrow’s flavor, I wonder what that case of Nutella I saw being delivered will be for…
After making plenty of clay pinch pots, rolling coil after coil, and carefully slipping together slabs of clay to make sculptural vessels, girls taking pottery are next excited to learn how to throw on the wheel. The first step is to dress in a white apron (spinning cray and water can throw off a spray) and sit down on a bench behind the electric wheel with your foot on the pedal control. That pedal allows you to adjust how fast the wheel spins. With a ball of clay ready, the next challenge is centering it on the wheel. This can take some practice to get just right. Once you open up the center of the spinning clay and slowly pull up the walls— steady hands here — you feel a great sense of accomplishment because you’re really using the wheel. Trimming the base of the piece is the last step, releasing it from the wheel and placing it proudly on the shelf to begin drying. Both of our pottery studios have girls making these strides, quickly becoming more adept at these advanced ceramics skills. Cool stuff!
Tonight all of the Middler campers took a trip out of camp to one of our favorite picnic areas in the Pisgah Forest, to Sliding Rock, and to Dolly’s Dairy Bar to top it off. This is a big exciting event that brings together 61 campers, 22 counselors, 4 lifeguards, 3 vans, 3 buses, 2 camp directors, and 3 extra bus drivers, not to mention the picnic food and other necessities. The girls, dressed in their swim suits and water shoes, with towels flung over their shoulders, and loaded the vehicles for the quick ride into the forest. We arrived and had time before dinner for a huge game of “Ride That Pony” (a funny group song with dance moves). But the main event was our next stop, the always-thrilling Sliding Rock. This is a classic mountain experience that combines icy-cold water rushing down about 60 feet of smooth rock, and the perfect pool at the bottom for a soft (and extra chilly!) splash landing. For many of these Middler girls, this was their first visit to Sliding Rock, and from their screams of delight I think they loved it.
Our final stop of the evening, Dolly’s Dairy Bar, never fails to get the whole bus screaming. I just have to put on the turn signal of the bus and the roar from the girls is powerful. Our entire crew made a line last night stretching from the window where you place your order, down and off the porch far along the edge of the parking area. Rockbrook always brings a crowd! It’s fun to see how many girls choose “Rockbrook Chocolate Illusion” or one of the other “camp flavors” for their cup or cone. When the ice cream is this delicious, it can be dark and you might have just been swimming in 58 degree water, but you will love it nonetheless. By the way, Dolly’s will be open on our Closing Day next week, yes, even early in the morning. You might want to plan on stopping. 😀
It doesn’t take long, once your daughter has attended an overnight summer camp like Rockbrook, to realize that the weeks spent having fun, enjoying outdoor adventure, horseback riding and all sorts of crafts have also been profoundly formative. Summer camp professionals and camp families alike, all know it; camp builds character.
In fact, it was back in 1929 when Hedley Dimock and Charles Hendry published their study Camping and Character: A Camp Experiment in Character Education. This book reported what the authors saw as positive changes in campers’ behavior as well as the mechanisms that explain how camp can be so “stimulating and enlightening.” Far beyond what ordinary classroom learning can provide, they saw the highly social nature of camp to be most important for helping children grow more responsible, trustworthy and more caring, fair and respectful in their interaction with others.
At Rockbrook we take great care to create a culture where all children feel included and appreciated, where staff members are extraordinarily admirable, and where positive peer pressure reinforces honesty and kindness. This is camp, and this is why camp builds character.