Miami-Dade — There is a period in a girl’s life, just before she enters teenhood and heads off to middle school, which is a pivotal time that can determine how she sees herself and how she views life. Girls are inundated with messages from the media, peers and society that they are not enough. Unfortunately, they are messages that some girls believe.
From that limited perspective, girls are more likely to become sexually active before they’re ready, experience eating disorders and underperform in school – all leading to a limited adulthood where they are far less likely to discover and express their life’s purpose.
The Youth Empowerment Summer Camp (YES Camp) aims to prevent those disempowering messages from seeping into the way that girls think – about themselves and life – with a dynamic summer camp experience that is fun, informative, inspiring and transformative.
The program is offered by Urgent Inc. and is now in its 15th year. Camp manager Emily Gunter said that the program guides the girls to building their life-esteem.
“When you affirm your life and you affirm what talents you have to feed your family and your community. When you affirm the intelligences and geniuses in you…and you do it with confidence,” she said, “you know that this is you.”
Everything about the six-week camp is designed to empower girls; from the daily activities and affirmations, to the location of the program. Holding the camp on the University of Miami’s campus allows the girls to step foot onto a college campus, some of them for the first time. The message behind choosing the location is clear – girls who visit a college campus early in life are more likely to believe that they can one day become college students.
“UM provides the space for free and we have the entire campus as our camp site,” Gunter shared. “We use the swimming pools, the Cosford Theater. We use their class rooms for the actual grade based interactive camps, and we have the greens in front of us for sports,” said Gunter, who is the author of ‘Superlearning 3000: Learning Made Simple;” used extensively in the camp.
The program can accommodate 60 girls and the spaces fill up quickly, “because we’re so popular and so thorough,” Gunter said of the program that is funded by The Children’s Trust. Roughly half of the girls are repeat campers who become mentors of sorts to their fellow campers, helping to guide some of the activities and affirmations. One of those affirmations is the camp’s oath that the girls recite daily:
Today is the best day of my life!
I am celebrating my life,
And all life around!
YES! Today & every day,
Is the best day of my life!
Gunter said that the oath is powerful because “Every day they say that and it goes into their hearts and they live through those words that they’re committing to.”
The program helps the girls to embrace who they are and to recognize that, “There’s only one you and not to be like anybody else. You can only be a good you,” she shared.
Parents, she added, should be prepared to have dinner-time conversations about their daughters’ camp experience because the girls will have plenty to share.
Experiential activities help the girls to realize that they are capable of learning differently. Through African drumming, for example, Gunter teaches them five songs in five different languages to expand their minds.
The price of the camp is $300, which includes lunch, snack and most field trips. Parents can pay in full or by the week for a program that helps girls to realize their potential. Gunter said that her message to the campers is this: “As soon as I give you more information, you can live better, you can affirm better. You are going to reach beyond your reach and see beyond your sight and know beyond your knowing.”
As the camp progresses and the message sinks in, the girls’ response to her question, “Are you ready to learn,” is a powerful, “Yes!”
For more information or to register, please visit urgentinc.org.