18 July - 22 July 2008Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) was held at the Tropical Education Center at the Belize Zoo for 18 girls from communities throughout the country of Belize. A group of nine PCVs working in youth development and education sectors came together on the WID/GAD (Women in Development/Gender and Development) Committee to discuss ways in which we as volunteers can work with gender issues in our communities. After brainstorming and conducting a priority matrix, we generated a list of topics important to women in Belize and we came up with a plan to hold Camp GLOW to bring girls between the ages of 10 and 14 together in the summer. Our goal was to provide them with an opportunity to explore several issues women face, as well as to allow them to interact with one another and just have fun and be free to be themselves for a few days. After months of planning and working with teachers and principals to identify participants, camp became a reality this past week and it was a huge success. Not to mention it was the most fun and rewarding activity I have been involved with in my whole time in Belize to date!
The focus of Camp was on three major areas: self-esteem, self-reliance, and self-expression. Topics of sessions/activities came from the list of needs and included such things as domestic violence, body image awareness, dating and healthy relationships, communication, goal-setting and career planning, nutrition and fitness, yoga, art projects, leadership, as well as trips to the zoo (including a fun scavenger hunt about the animals), a campfire with s'mores, a talent show, mini-olympics, and a crazy dance party. We ended with a panel of Belizean female role models who spoke to the girls about how they achieved their goals and became successful in their lives and chosen careers.The girls who attended camp came from one end of the country to the other, with delegations from Ranchito Village (Corozal), Belize City, Belmopan, Dangriga, Santa Teresa Village (Toledo), Big Falls Village (Toledo), and Punta Gorda Town and represent the many cultures found in Belize - Maya, Mestizo, Garifuna, and Kriol. Each of them blossomed and showed us what incredible and amazing young women they are and every counselor is pretty excited to work with our delegations to begin a Club GLOW in our communities.
This was an opportunity for girls to have an experience they may never have been able to participate in and to interact with positive role models and make new friends. At the end of camp, girls expressed how much they enjoyed themselves and some even said it was "the best summer of my life." It was incredible to be part of such a transformative and inspiring experience.
GLOW Girls Quilt Mural
We are so lucky to have Cheryl working with us because she is an amazing artist and brought so many meaningful art activities to help the girls express themselves and learn through their creative expression. Miss Cheryl drew this on the wall at the zoo entrance so Camp GLOW would leave its mark! Included in art activities were a quilt mural, self-portraits, shadow profiles, painting, and making masks with Miss Rachel (our other resident artistic PCV), decorating everything we had and much more!
Campfire and S'Mores!
The campfire was a huge hit! Only one girl had ever had a S'more before so it was really fun to see how the girls enjoyed them. They loved roasting the marshmallows and most people ate their marshmallows before we could show them how to make a s'more, so they just had to go right back for another and try again - once they had the chocolate, graham cracker and marshmallow together, they were lovin' it!
The Belize City Gyals!
Each morning we did a yoga session. I put together routines to introduce basic poses and if the girls want, they can put each day's routine together for one long session. It was a great, relaxing way to start each of our very full days. The girls mentioned it as one of their favorite times at camp and I hope they will continue to enjoy yoga on their own.
The GLOW "Modelers" (as they named themselves)
Singing to Hannah Montanna, a GLOW Girls' favorite
Everyone singing the new GLOWIN' Girls song to the tune of "She's Royal," written by Rachel and Liz for the counselors to sing to the girls at the Talent Show. They loved our "remix."
My 3-legged race partner, Michelle. We did really well, coming in second on our second heat (we had a shoe mishap in the first round when Michelle's shoe flew off and then a bandanna malfunction in the third round when our bandanna just came untied!). We were pretty fast though, I must admit, Michelle is a competitor. Michelle also has a perfect sportswoman attitude, she said "We're great partners, we don't have to win it's just for fun!"
The water balloon toss was a great competition - and of course girls never minded getting wet since it's so hot!
Nothing like a little arm wrestling competition!
Dancin' Gyals Crazy Party
The girls got all dressed up in silly outfits and really got into their facepainting. We played games like musical chairs, hokey pokey, and one the girls taught us standing in a circle as one girl is in the middle with various songs and then performs different dances and such... it was a pretty fun night with lots of laughter
Mariesha, Khadeisha, and Yolanda represented Belize City very well! I am so proud of them and look forward to their leadership for Club GLOW
All ah wi in fi wi Camp GLOW shirts
GLOW Girls 2008 - what a gorgeous group of leaders!
Everyone who participated in Camp GLOW also wants to extend our gratitude to everyone who supported camp and made it a success - from the staff in PC Office who worked with us to plan and organize the camp, to the many friends and family who donated to our PCPP grant, to the people of James Bus Line who donated transportation, the shops who offered discounts on our supplies, the folks at LOVE FM who shared our camp with the country of Belize, and the TEC who gave us a discounted rate for our stay at camp and the wonderful staff who fed us well and made sure our stay was comfortable - we couldn't have made this camp a reality without any of them! And of course, we thank these inspirational young women for making this the most memorable weekend for everyone.