Camp all about girl power


MOUNT MORRIS – During an average week in June, 19 young girls attending Strong Girls 2 Women (SG2W) day camp were reminded that they are shining stars.

They ran through obstacle courses using different abilities, crafted projects unique to each of them, and sang around a campfire while dancing, swaying, and celebrating their strengths. Each day of SG2W, hosted by Trinity Lutheran Church, was also an opportunity to meet and hear from women who hold vital roles in their organizations and community.

SG2W Director Adrienne Stafford described the reason for offering this annual free day camp to young girls in grades 4-6.

“They each have so much to offer. There are so many possibilities and their capabilities are endless,” she said.

Along with camp planners Holly Handschuh and Olivia Stafford, Adrienne Stafford organized for the second year a weeklong experience intended to provide a safe space for girls to be themselves and to be affirmed as they are in the world. She recruited adult and high school youth to lead the camp, providing participants multiple generations as role models.

 “I’m involved with [SG2W] because it creates healthy relationships with the youth,” Handschuh said. “It teaches them their worth and shows them they can really do anything.”

For Olivia Stafford, being part of SG2W is about witnessing the growth in the campers and sharing her wisdom that these has gained from the strong women in her life, such as her mother.

“To be able to help out the number one strong woman in my life and at the same time teach young girls about what it takes to be a woman in this day and age is really cool and full circle,” she said.

Centered on these themes of affirmation and empowerment, SG2W participants accomplished several goals and activities. Broken into teams and assigned their own tents, campers worked together and cheered each other on as they completed such tasks as weaving through pool noodles, running across balance beams, passing water over their heads to each other, and throwing Cheetos at their team leaders who wore hats covered in shaving cream. All of this silliness formed relationships and gave every camper an opportunity to shine while surrounded by their peers.

 Diving deeply into the topics of courage and strength, the girls created banners bearing their own positive traits, tore up stereotypes, talked about respecting themselves and others, dreamed big about what they might do with their abilities, and interacted directly with guest speakers from a wide variety of backgrounds. Presenters included Natalie Gordon, special education teacher and director of Penguin Project, a theater designed for special needs youth in Dixon; Corrine Kroger, Regional Director of Vision to Learn, an organization that helps children who cannot afford prescription glasses to get them; Dr Heidi Deininger, Oregon High School principal – the first female principal at OHS; and Danica Rogers, regional straw and ice artist with many passion projects and a diverse past serving Americorp.

On the last day of SG2W, with the sun out and banners flapping in the breeze on the Trinity Lutheran Church lawn, campers gathered around the fire one last time to sing, dance, clap, and make smores. They were sent off with gift bags and one last reminder that they are powerful, strong, and wise, as well as a promise from the adult and youth leaders that they are available throughout the year as safe mentors at school and in the community.

 “SG2W amazes me each year,” Olivia Stafford said. 

Once camp was closed, Adrienne Stafford and her team began breaking down canopies, gathering supplies, and imagining how the day camp will look in 2020. 

JPEG: photos of group standing together, sitting around campfire, running through pool noodles