Girl empowerment was the name of the game for the past two weeks at the Bishop Michael Eldon School.
The Girl Power Summer Camp gave girls six to 17, a dose of what it means to be graceful on and off the field.
The camp ran from June 29 - today, July 6 and incorporated sports and motivational speakers to uplift the registered young women.
Camp Co-ordinator Cherishe Hollingsworth said that the camp was created to be a positive, growing environment for the young ladies.
As described in her final assessment of the past two weeks, the “vibes” that surrounded the camp were “phenomenal.”
“So far, the past two weeks for the girls have been phenomenal,” she stated. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from the girls. They’ve had the opportunity to hear testimonies from women all over Freeport that came and shared. We heard most recently from Chrysan Pintard. She’s on dialysis right now, but she shared how she overcame that and they were empowered by her story.
“They’ve been empowered by a lot of stories from a lot of women on how to be strong as a woman, how to be brave, how to be whole, how to hold on to your identity, how to handle peer pressure, how to deal with hygiene. Then we topped it off with the vision boards – which was one of our underlying themes of the camp; think about the big picture and where you want to go through life.”
As a leader, Hollingsworth too felt empowered from what she heard from the campers and their testimonies of everyday life in school. The Camp Director added that she also drew from some of her past experiences, her upbringing and even now as an adult.
Still, with an environment like the Girl Power Summer Camp, she took note of how impactful that kind of setting could be.
“Not to take away from what my parents did, because they’re great parents. But if I had this kind of community and the village raising, I just think I would have been a little bit further ahead and would have gotten focused a lot sooner.”
The camp also incorporated sports into the girls’ development during the two-week session. Soccer, swimming, volleyball, basketball and softball were all tools used to teach the girls about being competitive, while also being a lady.
Camp instructor Tempest Bullard shared how the girls learned about accepting challenges on the field.
“This sports camp has been very interesting. We had a lot of girls attend this camp that are aspiring to be athletes. And we’re trying to marry the two aspects of being a student athlete and being a lady in the same breath,” she explained. “We tend to find ourselves wanting to be athletes, however, feel like we have to be ‘Tom Boys’ and wear baggy clothes. But we can’t ignore the fact that we’re ladies and we have to take care of ourselves like ladies and present ourselves like ladies.
“We used this camp as an opportunity to inspire them to do both. You don’t have to do one or the other but collaborate the two and still be an awesome athlete and still be a lady in the same breath.”
Bullard also took note that a lot of the girls have ambitions to play sports collegiately. She encouraged the girls to follow their dreams, especially with so many families dealing with financial issues.
Katrina Gibson, also a Camp Instructor, is no stranger to how sports can assist with getting to college.
Gibson received a Division I scholarship as a soccer player, which she actively plays in the Grand Bahama Champions Soccer League. She added that the sports aspect of the camp definitely lifted the young ladies’ spirits.
In addition, Gibson voiced how important it was to share with the girls the importance of decision making.
“It motivated them a lot, because a lot of times you have girls that feel like they can’t do certain things. But when they actually overcome, they actually fair better in sport and it gives them a motivation to continue.
“Over-and-over, we always use our own experiences to actually motivate them to not make certain decisions. With my experience, I’m usually honest with them and let them know what I had been through before going to college and during college. I also explained to them certain things you don’t have to do and there are certain mistakes you don’t have to make.
“Something as simple as doing your work - it actually helps in the long run, especially if you have plans on going to college later on. You want to have those good grades so when you get to college it wouldn’t be as hard.”
Ten-year-old Mya Knowles enjoyed her time at the camp and being an athlete, she voiced that seminars and sporting sessions were definitely an eye-opener for her.
“It’s been a lot of fun, because we did a lot of sports. And because I’m athletic, it was good for me because I have to stay in shape for when I compete in Island Sports.
“I also felt very empowered because we had guest speakers come in and they talked to us about being powerful, whole, and having faith because we need it.”
Young Georgia Mills said the two weeks left her inspired.
“The camp inspired me to be a better person, and it also encouraged me to try new things. My favorite sport is tennis, but they didn’t have that here. So, my favorite sport throughout the camp was volleyball. I found it very fun and it was easier than the other sports. And I didn’t like basketball as much, but the more I played I started to like it more. This camp has really changed my life.”