“I am smart. I am strong. I am special.” chanted more than 100 passionate girls at Camp LiveGirl, which recently concluded its second summer camp session at New Canaan High School. Camp LiveGirl brought together a diverse group of middle school girls from all over Fairfield County for a week of leadership development and empowerment.
I had the opportunity to attend Camp LiveGirl and was amazed by the impact that a week of leadership development and empowerment had on the girls. I witnessed transformations from shy, hesitant girls to bubbly, confident girls. I believe the magic ingredient is how LiveGirl facilitates team bonding through hands-on leadership activities, sports, and musical theatre games. Thinking back upon my own middle school experience, I can attest that LiveGirl is delivering a critical boost of positive self-confidence during what can be a very tough time for many girls.
Founder and director of LiveGirl, Sheri West of New Canaan, explained, “LiveGirl provides year-round leadership development for our girls. We provide after school mentoring, a leadership series and a summer camp,” West said. “Our goal is to foster deep connections and a broader network of friends (beyond a girl’s home school) that provides many positive benefits - a safe, empowering community.
LiveGirl’s mission is to "empower extraordinary”. This empowerment comes from the mentors, counselors and activities, all carefully designed by Sheri West. This year, Camp LiveGirl featured four keynote speakers that all motivated the girls to live fully and passionately. One of the keynote speakers was New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Oliver. Speakers also included New Canaan residents Heidi Sandreuter, Wendy Sloane, and Lori Tauber Marcus. These mentors provide a rich learning experience for LiveGirls like Ahhsha Crooks, a rising eighth grader from Stamford. “The LiveGirl experience gave me a lot more confidence than I used to have because it helped me to believe in myself,” she said. “And, they have given us role models that encourage us to achieve greatness.”
In addition to motivational presentations, LiveGirl provides the option for campers to participate in multi-sports or musical theatre. Thanks to a new collaboration with the Summer Theatre of New Canaan, the LiveGirl campers explored the performing arts, with the guidance from the nonprofit organization’s professional staff.
West said she was especially excited to offer the new theater program and career opportunities such as the Explore Fair, which brought in 25+ diverse career mentors, including many STEM-related careers because, “girls especially at this age benefit from trying new things in a safe environment. In addition, many of our campers are underserved youth (attending on full scholarship) and they don’t typically have access to these type of enrichment activities.” she said.
The final key piece to Camp LiveGirl’s success is Meg Domino, the executive director of New Canaan Cares. Throughout the week at Camp LiveGirl, Meg taught a course called Leaders-in-Action, which taught girls about decision-making, body image, communication and teamwork.
For Claire Brunner, a rising ninth grader from New Canaan, her experience with Leaders-in-Action was a critical part of her development throughout the week at Camp LiveGirl. “Meg is an awesome person to talk to and she will help you with your problems. She helped all of us to come together and communicate,” she said.
This is a historic time in American history with the nomination of the first female President. With leadership programs like LiveGirl preparing the next generation of female leaders, I believe our future is in good hands!
Emilia is a recent New Canaan High School graduate, where she was the Editor-in-Chief of The Courant. She will attend Santa Clara University in the fall.
For more information on LiveGirl, visit www.goLiveGirl.com or connect on social media @goLiveGirl.