By Liv Jarrett, LiveGirl Intern, Duke University
Looking back on Camp LiveGirl 2019, I can honestly say it was an experience I will remember fondly for the rest of my life. I, as a staff member, grew and learned more than I expected one ever could over the course of five consecutive 9:00am to 4:00pm days. I didn’t fully realize how much camp took out of me until I forgot to set an alarm on Saturday morning and slept in until an embarrassingly late hour of the day. However, until giving myself time to reflect, I also didn’t realize how much camp gave to me. I think it is one of those experiences that will continue to give as I progress throughout my path of life, and as people continue to venture in and out of that path.
The most remarkable part about Camp LiveGirl that stands out to me was the cohesive community we built in such a short amount of time. Watching girls of all different backgrounds, zip codes, circumstances, faiths, and walks of life interact with each other so harmoniously was truly inspirational. I feel blessed that I was able to witness the true humanity and pure sisterhood that happened there. Attending camp, there were girls who had just come from five week field hockey sleepover camps and girls who just got back from family vacations, and there were other girls for whom this was the first opportunity for them outside of their house this summer. Girls from private catholic schools, others from overcrowded and underfunded districts. Girls on full scholarships, refugee girls from Sudan, Turkey, Afghanistan, and girls whomst camp was such a foreign concept that their only expectations when they heard the word “camp” came from movies or TV shows they’d seen.
And yet, despite these differences, there was an incredible sense of respect and friendship- if I could name it in one word, “peace”. I wish this did not come as such a surprise to me as it did. I wish this was the normal. But given the way the world interacts today, given all the hate that is projected, the way minor differences such as political opinions, sexuality and dress, or geographical happenstance are harped upon to repel groups of people against each other, I have had very few other experiences in my life where I have witnessed such openness to, and eagerness for, unity.
A moment of this unity came to light when the girls were asked if anyone would be open to sharing their poetry they had been encouraged to write after hearing Cheynne Tyler Jacobs, a published and spoken word poet showcase her own work in a thought provoking performance. As the girls listened intently to each other's words and snapped along to things that struck them, more and more girls raised their hands to share. The air in the room went from timid to electric. Girls of all different literacy levels were sharing their thoughts and elevating each others voices with applause and praise. The girls had been prompted to start their poem with “When I look outside my window I see…” and what followed varied dramatically. But all the same, each story was met with a standing ovation, and an outpouring of support and creative recognition.
Thinking about these young girls coming together to engage with such ease and joy makes me hopeful. It gives me hope that younger generations have the capacity and willingness to not let the hate in this world impede on their collective joy of living. It gives me hope that their young optimism is not naive or fleeting, but is stronger than the oppressive and dismissive forces they will likely face as they grow up as females in today's world. I believe older generations have a lot to learn from LiveGirls. I believe that if others could adopt the attitude, unstoppable energy, and kind spirit the girls at camp LiveGirl showcased this week, that the world would be a much more joyous, peaceful place for us all.