Nothing is more empowering than having someone believe in you!
Camp CEO is dedicated to creating a safe space for Girl Scouts to network and interact with women from a variety of industries and backgrounds who believe in girls and all that they can accomplish.
The environment is fun, camp-based, and full of unique opportunities to hear about the twists and turns of the women mentor’s career paths and ask questions about how they got to where they are today. Their stories give Girl Scouts in grades 9-12 a “peek behind the curtain” and reinforce how tenacity, persistence, being curious, and taking risks without fear of failure can be the catalyst for interesting careers.
Read below as Girl Scout Program Specialist, Jauzlyn, shares highlights of the three-day event held at the Chicago office, culminating with an overnight stay at Camp Greene Wood.
On the first day, 10 girls arrived to the Chicago Gathering Place with a look of uneasiness. Sure, there were a few who allowed a sliver of a smile to show on their faces, but underneath there was surely anxiety. Most of the girls were very quiet and hesitant to actively participate, while a couple of them were able to break out of their shells more as the day went on. The girls were able to make their first connections with the mentors during an activity where they created vision boards, in which many of the mentors and girls were engaged in thoughtful conversations.
The biggest highlight of the day was when we played “Cross the Line”. This is a game where the facilitator makes various statements and participants take a step forward if the statement applies to them. During this game, there were a variety of serious statements, with some goofy ones in between. When we discussed how the game made them feel, many of the girls shared that it allowed them to feel closer to other people in the room, it helped them trust us as mentors and other girls, it allowed them to learn new things about each other, and it made them feel better about speaking up.
As time went on, the girls began to come out of their shells and expressed how doing this game made them feel more open and excited for the next two days.
The girls worked through a coding badge, thanks to our partner Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, at HCSC. The girls were tasked with taking data and creating a visual representation of the data to present to everyone. The girls were nervous at first, but once they began to work on the projects and had the guidance and coaching of HCSC volunteers, a whole new feeling of confidence was able to emerge. When asked who wanted to go first, there were a couple of girls who raised their hands quickly. In fact, a few of the quietest girls were first to raise their hands. The girls all did so well in presenting their projects. Some of the girls even helped their shyer peers speak up when it was time to present. Many of the girls stepped into the role of a leader during this time.
Once back at the Chicago Gathering Place, the girls participated in an activity called “Life Mapping”. During this activity, the girls were given the opportunity to identify different areas in their life that help them understand who they are and who they want to be as they develop and progress in life. Many girls shared that this activity helped them be more open and understand themselves a little better. They also enjoyed being able to learn more about each other and their mentors.
Later in the evening, we went to Camp Greene Wood. When we arrived at camp, it was safe to say that the girls trusted the facilitators and each other a lot more. By this time, the girls were looking as if they all came into this program knowing each other. During an activity called “Fear in a box,” we had the girls write down a fear and put it into a box, then, we sat around the campfire and I read each person’s fear. During this activity, the girls were given the choice to claim their fear, speak about it, and give advice and feedback to each other or not.
Each girl claimed and elaborated on their fear, and openly received advice and feedback from each other and the facilitators. The girls were then given the chance to burn them in the campfire. After discussing the activity, girls expressed that they felt comfortable because of the vibe of the group and because they felt like they could trust us and each other. Many of them said that they can see themselves being friends with all of the other girls after the program was over.
It later came to our knowledge that after lights out, the girls used the flashlights on their phones as light so that they can sit together and make friendship bracelets. They did that until they all fell asleep.
On the final day, the girls were split into smaller groups with mentors and participated in a variety of leadership activities. Each girl was expected to take turns leading the group in an activity and work on their communication and leadership skills. The mentors guided them and gave feedback about their performances. Mentors shared that many of the girls were excellent in how they led activities and how creative they were.
During lunch, the mentors had an insightful discussion about networking and using social media as a way to promote themselves. In return, many of the girls downloaded LinkedIn and created accounts the same day. They spent the rest of the day getting each other’s LinkedIn information and the information of facilitators and mentors.
The end of the day concluded with a business pitch competition. During the competition, the girls had twenty minutes to come up with a business and pitch it to an audience. Many of the girls became more animated and livelier when presenting. They used this opportunity to show off their personalities and their creativity, which resulted in some amazing business pitches. It was clear that by the end of the program, many of the girls had a newfound confidence in themselves.
According to Girl Scout Alonda, her biggest takeaway from Camp CEO was that, “passion drives everyone to success. Having drive and passion will always keep you focused on your career path and understanding your purpose.”
“I really felt honored to be part of the conversations,” Girl Scout Program Specialist JT said in regards to an activity centered around being your authentic self and finding commonalities between the girls. “I think a lot of the girls were skeptical about how the day would turn out, but our mentors’ genuine interest in learning more about them and especially the vulnerability as they told their stories really resonated with the girls.”
Girls shared that their opinions of the program changed as their day progressed. They expressed being glad to be there and felt more connected to each other.
“I was really nervous to come here but after meeting everyone and getting to talk, I enjoyed myself!” exclaimed a Girl Scout.
Here are some more highlights from the event:
We want to thank all of the incredible women involved in making Camp CEO a success, from our sponsors and community partners, to the mentors, to the staff, to the Girl Scouts themselves!