I had the amazing opportunity to be a part of Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) this year, a Peace Corps program designed to empower, increase self-esteem, challenge traditional gender roles, and encourage girls to become leaders in their communities. It was a week of fun, challenges, new friendships, and new ideas.
Camp GLOW was started in Romania in 1995 and now is in Peace Corps countries all around the world. This year was Colombia’s fourth year with GLOW. A group of 15 volunteers, six junior counselors, and 28 campers made our way to Minca, a beautiful pueblo near Santa Marta in the Sierra Nevadas. The Sierra Nevadas, being mountains and all, made for really windy roads. Let’s just say many plastic bags were used in the process of transporting six of the girls to camp. Luckily, it seems to have been only in that one van. Well, lucky for everyone else at least. However, after finally arriving in a school with a dormitory, we set up base for 5 days. The girls were separated into teams based on a colored bandana. Carrie and I took on the Pink Panthers. Each team came up with the name and a cheer that could be heard throughout the week. We could take up to two girls from each pueblo and girls were placed in the different groups than their pueblo buddy. The girls made new friendships fast, finding connections with girls they might otherwise not have had a chance to meet. It was so fast in fact the first night as all the counselors met, the girls could easily be heard in the dormitories three floors up.
Proud and Powerful Pink Panthers!
Each day was full of games, workshops, camp songs, exercise, team time, and more. The days started around 6am and ended around 11pm. There were workshops on leadership, community service, health, self-esteem, and more. The girls got to go to a waterfall to splash around in the freezing water, walk to a beautiful vista, and ran an amazingly successful mini camp. Kids from Minca came to the school for a few hours as the girls ran games and facilitated activities for them. They had a blast! It was amazing to see how quickly the girls stepped into a leadership role, starting up games and encouraging all of the kids to join in on the fun. The night ended with a bonfire where girls rid themselves of insecurities and insults by throwing them into the fire and finished it off by making s’mores. We went hours each day without water or electricity and made the most of it. The girls played hide and seek in the dark and observed the stars through a meditation led by Lindsay, one of the counselors. The last night was full of awards and a very active talent show. Non-stop, no kidding!
Yoga to start the day
Bursting self doubts
Mini Camp team pride
Splashing it up
Games and more games
The girls also started to plan a project to complete in their communities. That’s the next big step to come. My girls want to paint a part of their school to make sure there is a strong impression made when someone walks onto campus. All the girls had interesting and unique projects. I am excited to see where they go.
Overall, a rousing success!