Since its inception 10 years ago, Girl Scouts have made powerful connections and long-lasting memories at Camp CEO. Hosted by Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, Camp CEO pairs teenage girls with some of the top women business executives in the Chicagoland area. Often, these relationships extend beyond the week-long summer camp, as evident by Anita Tang and Alisha Welles’ ten-year friendship.
At the first Camp CEO in 2007, Tang, the managing director for Royal Roots Inc., her own firm specializing in U.S.-China business strategy, was paired with Welles, who was a Girl Scout Ambassador at the time.
“After graduating high school, I realized that I needed more guidance on how to discern between opportunities,” Welles said of her decision to apply for Camp CEO. “The opportunity to meet with mentors that have successfully made their way in life was encouraging and inspiring.”
During Camp CEO, girls and mentors participate in various workshops, have candid conversations and engage in outdoor leadership activities.
“Participating with Anita at the archery range and learning how to aim and shoot to hit a target was a wonderful memory,” said Welles, who is currently a business analyst at Peapod. “Learning about the lives of our mentors through the “Dreaming Your Future” workshop was my favorite part of Camp CEO. All of the mentors started in different places with different background and made it to a leading role in a company they joined or built.”
And the mentees weren’t the only ones who learned valuable lessons during Camp CEO.
“That knowledge and experience at Camp CEO did not flow one way from the adult campers,” shared Tang. “We could learn many things from the girls, too. And we got to be young again! To learn from and share with our peers and the girls – for sure, the interactions benefit all parties.”
One piece of advice Tang shared with Welles was how body language can be interpreted differently across cultures, which came in handy when the pair later met up in Beijing during Welles’ internship in Hong Kong and China.
“We had a great time!” exclaimed Tang.
“I also learned about the importance of etiquette and dress,” said Welles. “That appearance and behavior play a role in how you move around the world as well as leveraging your mind and heart.”
Welles also describes Camp CEO as a “great space to learn how to network, grow and connect with women and other girls that can understand your journey and care about whether your succeed.”
And Tang agreed.
“Everyone should participate in Camp CEO to gain some exposure that they may not get every day and to get a taste of people who are different and whose experiences are also different,” she said.
To learn more about Camp CEO, visit girlscoutsgcnwi.org/campceo.