Chapter 1: Mentally Fit Teens' Retreats Year 2
(And the Seed for Women Making Waves is Planted!)
“It was something new for all of us, no one knew each other and no one knew what to expect”, said one excited new trainee. It’s June 9th 2014 and just about 1:00pm in the afternoon. Slowly, girls start to trickle into Ashley’s office, some with friends, others alone. It’s the first week of camp – training! The whole point of the week was for the leaders to get to know each other, bond, learn how to lead activities and even get to know ourselves a little better.
In the mornings, we would get up early and head over to Blueline for an early morning paddleboard session, or maybe some paddleboard yoga. Afterwards, we would all head back to the Mentally Fit Teen’s Headquarters. Our head leaders for the week were Bettina Harriman and Ashley Le Grange. Bettina, a close friend of Ashley’s, is a certified passion coach and helped guide us in learning more about who we are and how that applies to becoming the best leader we could be for the upcoming summer. We spent the week learning about each other, sharing stories, talking about our passions and plans for the future, and eventually, our goals for the camp, all of which was done with fun activities introduced to us by Ashley and Bettina.
Before we knew it, the week was over and the official start to camp was only a few days away! After many hours determining who was going to work what weeks and scheduling all the different fun activities we had planned, camp was in session. One of the best parts about camp was getting to bond in smaller groups. With only about four leaders helping each week, it was impossible not only to form close relationships with the girls you worked with, but also with the campers. With so many great personalities and amazing thinkers in one place, each week was wonderfully unpredictable, with each week bringing something new and exciting that kept us all intrigued. Between scavenger hunts at the mall, celebrating Taco Tuesday’s at Tiajuana Flats, and spending ample time with Blueline, we were more than the typical summer camp. During the morning hours we would all take turns, with Ashley’s guidance, leading enrichment activities that were focused on topics like improving friendship skills, building a more positive body image, using the internet correctly and safely, as well as having presenters from the community share their life journeys encouraging everyone, campers and volunteers, to find their passions, pursue them and become leaders in the community. This was like no summer camp any volunteer could have every imagined (or retreater!). Sprinkled in with great dinners throughout the summer and activities just for us, we all realized we had now become even more then just friends; we had become more like sisters. We were from all over Palm Beach and Martin County coming together to be mentors, and in the midst of it grew relationships that would go on forever. And with that, we as leaders knew that this was unique, couldn’t just end mid August, and that we had to do something to keep this special program not only going, but expand it to reach more kids and all year.