When I googled “feminist summer camp” last fall, GLI was the first listing at the top of the page. As I checked the link and started learning about the organization, I knew this would be the best place to spend my summer. School could not end any sooner, as my excitement about slip n’ slides and dance parties was making it hard to focus on classwork and thesis. Finally, almost a full year later, I found myself pulling up to Bryn Mawr’s campus to settle in for my orientation to become a residential counselor, which is nothing like normal job trainings. I mean, where else do your bosses ask you to share and challenge your preconceived notions of your workplace in one question, and your gender expression in the next? Even better, where else do people say they cannot possibly answer those questions in less than one minute!?
From the moment we got here, our days have been the perfect balance of in and out, as we dive deep into our minds to reflect on our boundaries, needs, and desires; and get out of our minds and our bodies, as we truly let go during games and workshops. In these games and workshops, we have slowly been introduced to the concepts and beliefs that make GLI stand out from other organizations for young women. In our workshops, we learned that GLI is different because it is the only organization that puts the emotional and social development of girls at the center, but from what I’ve seen, this is just one of the incredible things that makes GLI stand apart. Whether it’s the emphasis placed on self-care for staff and campers alike, or the small but extremely significant steps taken to make sure that every camper is included, GLI is a place like no other.
Being immersed into this community of amazing women has been so inspiring. In the few days that we were together, I saw us grow and come together in such a unique way. I’ve been more honest with people that I met at GLI just this weekend than I have with friends and family that I have known for years. Though the summer has just begun, I can already see changes in myself and those around me, as we bring our newfound skills out of the classroom and into our daily interactions and relationships. This, by far, has been the highlight of my week, as one moment we are learning the curriculum and the next we are living and applying it. As I sit in these spaces, with these women, I can’t help but think about how my own life would have been different if I had been a camper here during my middle or high school years, if someone had encouraged me to listen to my internal voice, to recognize my inside feelings, and to challenge myself to be open and honest in the way I live. Of course, there’s no going back in time, but knowing that so many girls will and have had these opportunities because of GLI is more than enough to keep me smiling all summer.