Stand Up, Stand Out, Stand With
The first week of camp at Stand Up Foundation was like no other. The girls spent Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at Johnathan Dickenson State Park. The Park Rangers taught us about fire safety and took the girls on a pseudo-treasure hunt Geo-caching. The girls explored the nature trails on their bike rides and met many manatees while adrift the pontoon boat. On Tuesday and Thursday the girls learned about songwriting from the owner of Absolute Music Studios and even recorded the songs they composed! A crowd favorite, however, had to be stand up paddle boarding with Blueline. During our paddling extravaganza, we parked our boards on an island to have water races and play “King of the Paddle.” Although this was exciting, there is much more to retreats than these outside activities. In fact, the real magic happens inside; within the dynamics of our group and inside the hearts of our girls.
This week we focused on Team Building, Leadership and Inclusion. In order to drive these messages home, the girls participated in a series of activities such charades, egg tosses, arts and crafts and improv. The girls learned about their leadership styles and were given an animal that exemplified some of their characteristics. Although many of these games at first seemed arbitrary, they all revealed a deeper meaning. Each game or task was followed by a group discussion. We debriefed on communication, learning how to cooperate with others in a team. The more we touched on the ever relevant topic of cliques, the clearer it became that we cannot control a situation, only our personal response to it. With that in mind, the girls learned that in order to maintain healthy relationships, an open line of communication and expression is necessary.
The most fascinating aspect of camp was how united girls were in their experience of exclusion. Every single girl was able to relate to the pain of being left out and wanted to learn how to create a more inclusive environment. The campers took the lessons we imparted to create an accepting, inclusive community amongst themselves. I was awed by the evolution that took place. Girls who were typically shy and isolated themselves from others felt safe enough to join the crowd. I had the pleasure of watching complete strangers form a loving support group. Every time a camper invited someone to play or spoke to someone new, I was reminded of the goal of our foundation. Stand Up Foundation serves as a safe space for all; a place where everyone is welcome, everyone is accepted and everyone is included.
~Hannah, 16, WMW Member and Captain