Over the course of three summers working at GLI, I have had the great pleasure of getting to know 8th grade camper Lily George. In some ways, it’s remarkable how little she has changed – Lily is a girl who embodies kindness, compassion, and creativity no matter what is thrown her way. On the other hand, I marvel at how Lily has grown over the years.
Where I once saw a soft-spoken girl slowly weaving a web of self-discovery, I now see a confident young woman with incredible aptitude for verbal and artistic expression, and a strong sense of herself. I interviewed Lily to hear her thoughts about how GLI has helped shape the person she has become.
Q: What do you like about GLI Summer Camp?
After my 6th grade summer, which was 10 days, I told my mom I made closer friends in 10 days than at school for the whole school year. There are lots of different girls from all around the world. You can always say, “Where are you from?” Everyone has different experiences that we come together and share. We’re all learning the same communication skills so no one is ever mean.
Q: How have you grown at camp?
Before 6th grade, I was shy. I cared about what others thought… and I was afraid to show myself. Then I came to GLI. There’s no status here – we can be our crazy selves and not pretend to be something we’re not. We’re all different but we’re all girls. We’re free.
Now that I’m an 8th grader, I know the returners better, I know how to make friends with new people, and I know the GLI traditions. I’m back at a place where you can be who you always wanted to be.
Q: You’re a very talented artist. Can you talk a little bit about your artistic work at GLI?
I’ve been drawing since I was very little. I’ve been practicing a lot cause I love it. I was in the “Wild Imagination” mixed media shadow puppet project and I got to cut out the head for the shadow screen – I got a lot of compliments, which made me feel good. I got to take on a leadership role.
Q: Can you tell me about one of your favorite memories at camp?
I love playing the [morning theatre] games, they’re so much fun. Like “Monster” and “Whoosh!” I think, “If she acts silly, I can act silly too. If she can do that big crazy ‘Whoosh’ in front of all those girls, then I can too!” I love being myself, and not being afraid of what others think.
Clearly, GLI can’t take credit for all of the amazing things about Lily. Yet as a GLI staffer, I am heartened to know that we may have had some part in helping her learn the values and skills of authenticity, leadership, and confidence. That’s a camp I am proud to be a part of.
Hooray for Lily George and her tribe: they are game changers.
Through the generative GLI philosophy and program as envisioned by Rachel Simmons, young women like Lily can participate being supported in moving from our cultural norm of teen-age angst into trusting themselves in their own process for achieving authenticity.
GLI is a unique vision where girls can find connection to themselves, experientially, that results in connection with others, the basis of the human emphatic for love and belonging. However, as young people today are caught up and driven by the competitive and fast-paced environment that we have unconsciously created for them by our adult choices, where do they find alternate mentors? Women, especially, have been forced into meeting historical and dominant male standards which have kept their own choices for survival – physically, economically, educationally, and psychologically – subservient or manipulative. I see traces of transition, no doubt; however, I believe we won’t see a shift in the development as a species until a conscious balance between male and female is achieved. How about a BLI to give our boys a chance as well?
Lily’s transformation at GLI from a scared and overwhelmed little girl into a person who discovers her innate power for self expression, and tools to test and support her capabilities and talents, is a direct result of the opportunities in this promising facility of GLI. I personally see this being implemented within our public educational framework for both genders as a start to transform our world. Go GLI.
Renee L. George
I couldn’t be more proud of Lily! She has been working hard at building her confidence. She is taking more risks and pushing herself everyday. I have seen emotional growth and the development of her verbal expression which is crucial at her age for building self-esteem. GLI has made a significant impact on Lily during these formative years. I am grateful to GLI and the staff for giving her the support she needed to blossum. I will continue to share with others about the remarkable experience she had at GLI.