:: by Ayisha John ::
Camp G.L.O.W. 2015 is all I can think about now that we are winding town to the final days of our online fundraising campaign and diligently pursuing the last bits of sponsorship we need from local business and organizations. In a few short weeks we will be welcoming a new group of Grenadian girls to this free annual weeklong sleep away camp.
Last year, because of your support, we were able to see 35 young girls successfully complete the camp. This year, we are hoping that you would once again lend your support to assist young Grenadian girls in realizing their true potential. Deadline to donate online is June 30th, less than a week.
I would like to share with you a few of my experiences from last year’s camp.
This time last year I had the pleasure of calling the lucky campers who were picked by the 2014 Camp Directors, Deserie John, Brigette Rizzo and I to attend Camp G.L.O.W. 2014. I must admit it wasn’t easy. I wanted to pick them all but with only 35 spaces we had to narrow it down. The joy I heard over the phone from these excited future campers was heartwarming. I got off each call with a huge smile on my face. I was already proud of each and everyone of these young women because they were willing to join us on this adventure, Camp G.L.O.W. (Girls Leading Our World).
I have to admit that on the first day of camp I was quite nervous. Would I be able to connect with them?Would they listen to me? Teenagers are not a demographic that I interact with on a regular basis. Other than having been one myself years (eons) ago, I’m not that versed in their ways. Even their vernacular is sometimes strange to me. But as the first bus pulled up and my campers started streaming out I knew it was going to be alright. I made sure that I hugged each and everyone of them so they knew it too. My girls!
One of the workshops we did was on HIV/STI and AIDS. To show the girls how AIDS is transmitted we played a game with balls of yarn. The girls had a scenario read to them and they passed the balls of yarn around as they “came in contact”(had unprotected sex) with the person with AIDS. The girls enjoyed the exercise and it brought home how easily AIDS is spread and everyone is at risk.
At night, after lights out, one of my favorite things to do was to visit each dorm room and chat with the girls. We talked about a lot of things and I answered loads of questions. The dark room gave the girls confidence to ask all sorts of questions that I answered to the best of my abilities and encouraged them to keep seeking the answers I couldn’t provide. I became a friend, teacher and confidant all in one. I was and still am humbled and honored by that experience.
The last hours of camp were the hardest. As we all realized our time together was quickly coming to an end the waterworks started. Saying goodbye to each camper brought a fresh set of tears for the both of us. These same girls that opened up to me and allowed me into their world where we laughed together, cried together, swam together, hiked together, learned together had left their prints. I was able to develop a relationship with almost all 35 young ladies.
After camp, my connection to the campers remained. At first it was daily calls from my former campers. I would see them out and about and it was always the same thing: A big shout “MS. AYISHA!!” and a big hug and the feeling has always been mutual. Nothing gives me more joy than to see one of my girls. Well except seeing a few of them together. The bond that these girls made with each other after just one week together makes me think we are doing something good. That in itself is a testament to the success of Camp G.L.O.W.
I’m so excited for Camp G.L.O.W. 2015. With your help I KNOW this year will be a success as well. Please visit our indiegogo page to see our video, and donate and share widely. Thank You!
Co-Director & Librarian
Ayisha is a native New Yorker who spent her childhood summers in Grenada, climbing trees for fruit and looking under river stones for crayfish with her many cousins, on her grandparents property in St. David’s. After a long hiatus she came back to Grenada on vacation, fell in love with the island all over again and moved here. Ayisha works as a customs clerk for North South Trading in Lance Aux Espine. She was also one of the Directors of Camp G.L.O.W (Girls Leading Our World) a Leadership and Empowerment camp for secondary school girls across Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. She is currently helping to establish The Mt Zion library to facilitate the needs of both the children and adults of St. Georges. Ayisha is also look forward to the day when Groundation Grenada has it’s own library to share her love of books with her fellow Grenadians.