I studied Elementary Education in my undergraduate career at Bay Path University because I love working with children. I always wanted to be a camp counselor and finally got the opportunity when one of my best friends and education classmates, Amanda Connor ’15, introduced me to Go Girls.
Amanda C. is a fourth grade math teacher in the Springfield Public Schools, as well as the current dance instructor for Go Girls. She’s been a part of this program for five years now. Amanda says she has, “loved to watch the campers grow up and gain confidence over the years. This camp strives to help girls find themselves and become empowered, and it is such a unique value for a summer program.”
I often think about how important it is that children and young adults have the right role models and leadership in their life so they can take on the world with confidence. During Go Girls, they’re exposed to college students and adults from different walks of life who show them what it means to be a leader.
When I first started working for Go Girls, I was lucky enough to hold the position of leadership games counselor, focused on encouraging our campers to break out of their comfort zones through dynamic teamwork games, including water activities, physical challenges, and others that were built upon team effort. Every week, we played “Human Knot” where campers would form a “knot” by grabbing onto the hands of other random campers in a circle, and the only solution to getting untangled is to communicate with each other without using words.
This proved to be difficult for one of my campers who had a hard time not speaking throughout the game. She struggled to stay on task and often tried to distract her fellow campers, always trying to get people to laugh at her. Once her friends began to reassure her that she could accomplish the human knot challenge without speaking, she realized that her actions could speak louder than words with every game we played.
This camper showed great progress and ended up being a ringleader of encouragement for others, celebrating their successes with them. She embraced new experiences instead of fearing that she may not be good at them. I loved seeing her and other campers coming together to perform a number in the Big Show (a talent show held at the end of each week) focused on having fun instead of feeling self-conscious. She made new friends and adventured outside of her comfort zone!
I could really see the growth of these girls blossoming each day, as they gave their all with everything they did. They cheered on fellow campers, stepped up to help their teams, and never cowered away from challenges or obstacles that came their way. They would even stay in their camp groups long after they were dismissed for the day because they had so much fun with each other! It was great to run into this particular camper outside of the program a few years later because she had transformed into a more confident person. I took pride in knowing that Go Girls helped shape her into a leader in the making. She was sociable and comfortable chatting with me, and it seemed she had grown outgrown the insecure behavior she once had. This is not often seen in such young girls, especially when they’re really shy. It was nice to see her making progress, and I’m excited for her future ahead.
What I love most about this job is learning from the campers. Each year, I’m reminded to look at things from a new perspective and step outside of my own comfort zone. I’ll never forget the days of camp when my campers step up to instruct me on how to play new games I haven’t heard of, or assure me that as long as I’m having fun, it doesn’t matter that I’m not a great dancer. Over time, I’ve learned that what we do makes a difference to these young girls. Putting them in a positive environment with lots of encouragement can greatly impact how they treat others, and take away skills they’ll be utilizing as lifelong learners. That’s why when I see a camper outside of Go Girls, I will always remember what a great experience this is for them, and that we taught them valuable skills they’ll use the rest of their life.