GLI Goes Back To School

Dear Friends,
What an August! We’re basking in the memories of so many amazing moments: hiking a Mesa at sunset, belting Journey songs in canoes during the pouring rain, applying face paint and writing chants for the end-of-camp water fight and bravely sharing honest feelings with roommates. It wasn’t easy to say goodbye to our wicked awesome campers and dreamy staff, but it’s only ten months until we get to do it all over again!
There is a LOT to catch up on this month! First, we’re sharing our GLI Back to School Guide below. We’re proudly showing off our national media coverage. Rachel is going on a book tour to give parent-daughter workshops around the country. See if she’ll be in your neck of the woods! There’s an announcement about an exciting new summit for girls and adults in New York. Finally, don’t miss Morgan Wright’s post about the amazing Junior Expedition trip to the Southwest and the group’s fantastic slideshow.

We wish you a safe and happy return to school. Keep in touch and let us know how it’s going!

All our best,
Simone Marean, Julia Loonin & Rachel Simmons

Back to School
Girl Showing MusclesHeading back to school is exciting and nerve wracking! The stress of change under the microscope of comparisons—comparing friends, bodies, clothing, grades and summers – can make for an exhausting few weeks. At GLI we talk about useful stress and harmful stress, and most of the Back To School stress can feel fairly useless! All this thinking about what everyone else thinks of us makes it hard to be our regular, silly, mistake making, funny old selves who are pretty much wearing the same clothes we wore last spring!

Here are some tips to help you stay true to yourself and shake the back-to-school jitters.

1. Call or email friends from outside of school to vent your thoughts and feelings. This will remind you that there’s a world outside of school and give you space to let go and blow off steam.
2. Play outside after school! Recess isn’t just for elementary school. After a long day of thinking and stressing, it can feel amazing to jump in a pool, jump on a trampoline, jump rope, whatever! Just give your body a break from all those back-to-school thoughts.
3. Reach out to someone new. Sometimes we get trapped in our one group of friends. When school starts, there’s a period where everyone is a little nervous and open to new friends. Use this brief window to take a risk: sit somewhere different at lunch, invite someone new to your table or ask a person you don’t know that well to be a partner in class.
4. Make eye contact when you walk down the hall. We tend to learn the rules of school at a young age—there are people that you acknowledge and people you don’t. It doesn’t need to be that way! Try noticing people with the simple gesture of eye contact. You may be surprised at how good it can feel.
5. Treat yourself right. If you’ve ever spent time with Rachel, Julia or Simone, you know that we are three ladies who love our food (FOOD GOOD!!) and cherish our sleep. This is never more important than during a stressful time. Make sure you eat a good lunch, make time for breakfast and protect your right to sleep (note: your cell phone or laptop are not substitutes for a stuffed animal. Seriously. We mean it.).

GLI In the News
Gym ClassFor nearly a decade, our little company has been a bit of a secret. People mostly heard about us through word of mouth. Then, a few weeks ago, Jan Hoffman wrote an article in the New York Times that graced the cover of the Sunday Styles section. A few days later, we hit the Today Show! If you missed these stories, be sure to check them out. They are wonderful profiles of our work. We feel so grateful that so many families and schools are learning about GLI and joining our family.


Rachel’s National Be You! Book Tour
'Curse of the Good Girl' Book CoverTo celebrate the paperback release of her New York Times bestseller, The Curse of the Good Girl, Rachel’s hitting the road! Adults and girls (ages 8 & up) are invited to join our co-founder for a fun, interactive back-to-school workshop on getting the most out of friendships and staying true to yourself. With laughter and honesty, Rachel will teach girls powerful strategies to express themselves with authenticity and confidence, deal with friend drama effectively, and make healthy decisions in relationships. Adults will learn tools to support girls on the journey. Learn more.

Save the Date: SPARK Summit
'SPARK' LogoSPARK Summit is the first ever summit for girls and adults where participants will take on the sexualization of girls and ignite a movement for girls’ rights to healthy sexuality. On October 22, at New York City’s Hunter College, girls will learn the tools they need to become activists, organizers, researchers, policy influencers and media makers, pushing back against the increasingly sexualized images of girlhood in the media and creating room for whole girls. Nominate a girl to attend, or learn more.


Third Year Expedition by Morgan Wright
Third Year Expedition CamperThe GLI Third Year Expedition was unlike any other program at GLI Summer Camp. As one of the nine campers in this program, I can easily say it was definitely one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. We had the opportunity to stay on a Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona and lead a GLI day camp for young Navajo girls. While in the Southwest we also explored the landscape, hiking a mesa at sunset and rafting down the Green River– just happy to be taking in the breathtaking landscape.

During our week on the Reservation we learned all about the Navajo culture, specifically their unique rituals and ceremonies. One night our host Darlene taught us to make fry bread, blue corn mush and mutton. A ceremony that really popped out for us was the laughter ceremony. Generally, my culture would celebrate and cherish a baby’s first word, but in the Navajo culture what’s equally important to them is a baby’s first laugh. They believe that this is one of the first signs of life, the first time the baby communicates with the world.

The other ceremony that Darlene shared with us is the puberty ceremony. This celebrates the first time a girl gets her period. For four days, the girl dresses (and sleeps) in traditional Navajo clothing and jewelry. Every morning before sunrise she runs for a certain distance; the first morning is one mile and each morning thereafter she runs an additional half a mile. The girl also chooses a woman in her family or community whom she looks up to and asks this woman to do her hair. At the end of the four days, the girl and the woman make a gigantic cake (sometimes up to 50 lbs!) and the cake is then shared with their community in a big celebration. Where I live it can be embarrassing for a girl to get her period, but traditional Navajo culture celebrates this right of passage with pride.

While learning all about the Navajo culture at night we were working hard by day to create a day camp. Watching the girls grow from the first day to the last day and really seeing the “GLI magic” take place was incredible. We saw the girls come out of their shell, open up and be silly and goofy with each other. We all really got to know the girls and it was so inspiring to work with them and really see them just being themselves! With the beautiful ceremonies, day camp, traveling, and friendships made even stronger, we all went home with a trip we’ll never forget!

Leave a Reply