My biggest project-based accomplishment of my Peace Corps service was hands down helping to organize Jamaica’s fist Camp Girls Leading Our World (GLOW). Our initial committee consisted of Peace Corps Jamaica Group 86 POWER women, and everyone brought forward their skill sets and tapped into their networks to orchestrate an inspiring four days of empowerment, self-expression, and good old fun for twenty-two girls, ages 13-17, from across the island. We worked hard to ensure this camp would be sustainable by inviting two amazing women from Peace Corps Jamaica Group 87 (they came on island a year after our group) to participate and take notes on areas of improvement for Camp GLOW 2017 as the torch is now passed to them. In order to make this camp successful, we partnered with multiple national organizations, including Plant Jamaica, JN Foundation, Respect Jamaica, and Knox College. This camp would not have been possible without Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative and Dining for Women's generous donation.
I am thrilled with how the first year of camp worked out; there were only minor details that would make camp go smoother next year (plus no emergencies!). I truly believe that every girl who attended left with new friends from across the island, improved self-esteem, awareness of volunteerism and increased professional development.
We made journals in order to explore creative writing and foster a safe space for self-expression, tye-dyed their GLOW shirts to let their own unique style shine, and campers learned how they could become leaders in their communities. We also had a bonfire where we shared songs and s'mores, had spontaneous dance parties, and had a grand finale talent show.
“I learned that every person, including me, has the light of greatness within us,” stated one camper when asked what she learned about herself at the end of camp.
Another camper wrote the counselors a letter on behalf of all the GLOW girls: “Although it was just for a few days, we met each other and felt a little strange at first, but now we are letting go of a big part of us that we wish we could keep forever.”
She will keep what she gained during GLOW camp forever, and can continue to explore the topics covered during camp in local GLOW camps that counselors will facilitate at their local schools or libraries. GLOW ON!
Check out the article, "Peace Corps Brings GLOW to Jamaica", published in the Jamaica Gleaner last month.
I have zero doubts about Camp GLOW happening in 2017 and onward, and I’ll let the pictures below create a narrative about our activities and all of the fun we had!
Thank you to everyone who made Jamaica's first Camp GLOW a success!