African American Girls Develop A Comradeship at A Camp on University Campus
Girls from a local school district came to the university campus for a two-week camp for girls. This was to be an enlightening and rewarding experience. The girls were of varying ages, grade levels, stages, backgrounds and experiences. Leaders planned days of opportunities for these girls by exposing them to a university campus in support of preparing them for college. More important than any other part of this experience were the long-term friendships they developed with each other!
- Selected to Come to Campus
- A Privileged Experience
- Honor Where Honor Is Due
- Respecting One's Self
- Respecting Others
- Learning the Positive Ropes of Life
- Oh, I Thought I Was In Trouble
- You Older Girls Need to Be Role Models
- Advancing to A New Horizon!
- I Am Proud of My Accomplishments!
- Visiting My Mom Who Lives in Another State
- University Is the Place Where I Would Like to Be
- Time to Say Farewell for Now to My Friends!
Selected to Come to Campus
It all started in my home school-one of the teachers at our school had heard about the Shining Stars Girls Program. Some of the other girls from our school district had been to campus earlier during the school year. I was glad when were were invited to attend the camp! Notes went home to parents who had to give consent for their daughters to participate.
It truly was great to be selected to come to campus. After all coming to a university campus is a very important job. Only a few from my hometown get to come- I think it's mostly because so many people act like the campus university is far away as if a foreign land!
Thanks for allowing us girls to come to campus!
Glad I was chosen to come!
A Privileged Experience
Being among the privileged, demands proper and lady-like behaviors. After all, the expectations are that we will represent the program, it's goals and aims for all girls involved. If we do not try to act lady-like, then we will need some extra work.
I remember one of the girls was sitting with her legs in an inappropriate manner. At first I thought about how many times some of us sat in that same position.
Okay, the truth of the matter is if you are a young lady, you really don't sit with your legs "gapped" wide -open. Mama always told us, "don't let everybody see what you got under your clothes." Now, I am understanding it so much better!
This lady-like thing might take a little longer than I thought. Then they told us not to yell or talk so loudly when we are inside the building. Okay, so use your quieter voice. Does that make you a lady? Not really, but you certainly look more intelligent when
you speak in an "intelligent" voice tone.
After all, I can really feel myself changing for the better. Being a lady seems like it can take you a long way on this road called, "respect" and "opportunity."
Honor Where Honor Is Due
What is honor? Now, it is quite an honor to have opportunities that we have never had before. I met some very important people. First I knew that it was important to give honor to those who deserved honor. First we met some faculty. They had college degrees. Some of them told of the many years that they went to school to earn their degrees. One lady had her degree in elementary education. She said that meant that she could teach in a classroom with children in grades kindergarten through sixth or teach university students who wanted to become teachers. I think that's what I want to be when I grow up too.
Then there were a couple of young men whose jobs were to make sure all of the computers were working properly. I really admired this one guy who came out and gave each one of us our own user name and password- quite cool and a cool, honorable and respectful job too! Honor, yes, they all are due honor and surely lots of respect!
How is honor granted?
How is honor earned?
How is honor denied?
Respecting One's Self
Ever wondered what it really is like when you have nor respect for yourself? I believe that it must be worse than when you do not have respect for others. So what is really like walking around, not caring how you look, how you smell or whether you are having a good day or not?
What is life like when you have no motivation to get up and do your best? Instead you choose to sit idle and let the days pass you by. What is like to have a negative self-image, choosing to put your own self down verbally.
What is life like when someone gives you a compliment and you get upset? What is life like when you verbally share how you do not like anything about yourself? Why should someone spend a whole lot of time pleading with you to change your mind about how you feel about yourself.
Respect yourself. Carry your self about your daily tasks with head up, thoughts up, mind up and actions up! Maintain a positive attitude and keep striving to reach your daily goals! Respect yourself and others will begin to respect you also!
Sometimes we find ourselves believing that things are going well until one little episode
kinda changes everything. There was a group of us girls who had to go to the restroom right before we left to walk up to campus for our lunches! I really looked forward to lunch time at the university. There were so many choices for us, and we could go back for seconds as long as we ate mostly what we had and not wasting the food. Our camp leader had given us some good lectures on how many children in different parts of the world were starving. It was important to remember that food that we waste could be eaten by some hungry families. We even talked about some websites that we could go on to help donate food to children in other parts of the world.
Well we girls had been doing fine until the episode in the bathroom. One of the camp assistants stepped out of the restroom just for a moment to help a younger child. She asked one of the girls to help for just a moment. The bathroom had individual stalls with doors that could be locked. What happened next was really unnecessary. Three girls were in the individual stalls when one of the girls asked another, "Are you looking at me in the bathroom Carmelita?" Carmelita responded, "No I am not, but I bet Channahana is." That one statement made by Carmelita started a disturbance in the girls restroom. After a group discussion with the girls involved, it was important to point out that some statements we make are unnecessary and can cause confusion.
So if we indeed want peace, harmony and for all of the girls to get along, each girl must learn to respect others. Respecting others will help have a respectful environment.
Learning the Positive Ropes of Life
Now during our daily discussions, we had to spend some very valuable time on learning the ropes of life. We talked about how things sometimes may not go the way that we want them to, but we have to keep on working hard and striving to reach our goals. One girl shared how her mom had become life-threateningly ill and she had to move in with her other cousins and aunt until mom could get better. She wasn't sure how long mom would have to be in the hospital, but she was grateful that she had family that would help take care of her. At first she thought that because of her family situation, she had a legitimate excuse to be mean, say mean things to others and act out as often as she chose. But once I explained to her that some of the things that happen in our lives do not grant us excuses to disrespect ourselves nor others. She told me thank you and that she was going to do better. She said she wanted to be good so that she could help the younger girls!
Oh, I Thought I Was In Trouble
Seven-year-old Jametta (not real name), joined the camp later than her older sister. Mom called and asked could she come a few days after the camp started. Well, I could see why she hesitated about sending her younger daughter. Her ride on the school bus to the campus and her arrival after the first two hours were filled with conflict. The other camp assistants were telling me about some inappropriate words she was using. Well it was time for me to have a conversation with her. Having a background in child psychology really helps in some very strenuous situations. She felt like calling the other girls names empowered her. I had to quickly let her know that was not the proper way to meet new friends. I also emphasized how it was an honor to come to the camp. I talked to her about being a respectful young lady. She listened very intently as I spoke with her. Then I asked her was she willing to obey the rules. She agreed that she would try really hard.
It was almost funny, but certainly sad, that everytime I called her name she thought she was in trouble. But after a few times of calling her name and allowing her to be a leader she realized that I wasn't calling her name because she was in trouble. Then she began to relax, but would still quickly ask me, "Am I in trouble?" As we became closer, I walked with her to the campus dining center. She began to tell me. "There is a story about something that happened at school- I don't even like talking about it."
She told of how a boy in her class had called her a name. She picked up a couple of chairs in the classroom and threw them across the room. Then she quickly said I won't do that again, that was not a nice thing to do. Then she said, but I didn't get in a lot of trouble. So I briefly talked to her about finding alternative ways of dealing with issues and problems.
You Older Girls Need to Be Role Models
These girls certainly learned naturally that the role that they played with the younger children in the same environment would be very critical. If they are off task, they could affect the younger girls in a negative way.
They were so helpful with the younger girls in showing them some of the skills they had learned. They also were very eager to help them get started on their tasks on the computer. Then when it came o creative movement, dance, singing and childhood games, the older girls naturally took over the leadership roles.
I loved this part of the camp, because this was the best time to see how caring, loving, kind and considerate the older girls were. They realized that they had already traveled where these girls still had to go!
So for safe traveling purposes across campus, an older girl was always paired up with a younger girl.
Advancing to A New Horizon!
Now I know how to go to a new and brighter horizon. I am responsible for my actions wherever I go. My actions affect the actions of others. If we are going to be a team, we had to learn how to work together, share together and play together. Ms. Shari took us outside for physical activities. With all of the "Students on the Move" programs nationally and with the focus of First Lady Michelle Obama, we too wanted to become more physically active.
I was surprised myself when we went outside we all got in groups of fours and fives. Each group had to think of a cheer and cheer-leading actions. Then our camp leader was going to come outside and see what we had developed. I must say, it was amazing.
Each group worked as a team and came up with some of the most creative actions that I have ever seen. The smiles on each of the girls faces let me know that although we may have experienced some disagreements, we all had advanced to a new horizon! A proud new horizon of success- we are really comrades now! New friendships developed through cooperative learning experiences!
I Am Proud of My Accomplishments!
I am very proud of all of the new skills I have learned. I have some messages to take back to pass on to others. I learned that my following through on what I started working on is very important.
I learned that we should be open-minded enough to be able to receive help when we need it. I learned that asking for help can decrease a lot of worry and shame.
I learned that I need to strive a step beyond my comfort zone. It is easy to just do enough to get by. But doing enough to get by doesn't always take you in the direction that you need to go- instead it helps move you an inch closer.
I am really proud of how I learned to not spend so much time worrying about what someone else was doing. Instead I have to focus more on what my roles and responsibilities are in each situation.
With all of these, my accomplishments and achievements increased!
I wrote my own story that can be published!- Wow!
Visiting My Mom Who Lives in Another State
I know most of the girls at camp do not live with their fathers. With that I know I am an exception to the cases around me. Don't really understand it all- but it's nice to have someone love you!
We don't talk about it often at home, but my dad is raising all four of us. I am the only girl and my three brothers. Not sure why mom left us with dad, but he has always done his best with us. Instead of spending a lot of time on issues that we have nothing to do with and certainly can do nothing about, our dad helps us to live with a different family structure.
So after all, so many children live in families with different structures. One girl in camp had to move in with aunt and cousins because her mom became deathly ill.
Some of the other girls live with their grandmother, even though mom is still active in their lives.
I had the opportunity to go visit my mom for four days in another state. It was quite an odd feeling. She now has a husband and a one-year-old baby boy. She took me to the grocery store, did my nails herself and tried to spend some quality time with me.
When I look back I am not sure if this visit really helped me or not. Seems like when I got back home, I had some extra pain in my heart. I had more questions that I dared not ask anyone. Instead I only notice that I am extra quiet now.
Oh well, we've got to start the routine all over again. My dad has to keep his job and report to work. I'll finish this camp, and see what happens after that. After all, I should make a special card for my dad to let him know that I do appreciate him keeping us. If he didn't not sure where we four kids would be today!
University Is the Place Where I Would Like to Be
I know that I would rather choose going to the university rather than to prison like so many of my relatives. I can't believe when we first got to the campus that this girl asked me if that was a prison? She was talking about the dorms where the students live. I said, "No." "This is a university and not a prison." Really, I thought it was a rather silly question. But then I had to stop and think about it- if you have never been to a place, you have the right to ask the name and type of place.
It's hard to understand when you are as young as we are why some people would choose prison over going to college. Well, that might sound simple to me, but in reality I know it is not. I know that we all come from different backgrounds. We have been taught different ways of life. I hope and pray everyday that I stay on the right path. I pray everyday that I make wise choices. Unwise choices can easily cause a person to make the wrong turn in life.
Each time that I come to the university, I try to learn as much as possible. I know in my heart after coming to this camp that a university is where I really would like to be. So now I just have to keep on praying that I do well in school and one day make it the university of my choice!
Time to Say Farewell for Now to My Friends!
Thank you to all of you for a great experience and a great opportunity at the University- time to temporarily say farewell, but we will meet again! A special thanks to our camp leader for designing this camp for us girls to be able to come to the campus for two weeks for full days.
Thank you to the university people who opened the doors so that we can come in and learn about life on a university campus. Thank you to all of the people who work in the computer lab who trusted us to come to your area to use the computers, play with games and other manipulatives, use the space for arts and crafts. And sure for allowing us to practice our individual talents and gifts even when we had to sing our group songs.
Thank you for encouraging us to keep on keeping on. While we say farewell to you for now, many of us will be back in a few more months. Thanks also to the funding agencies who provided grant money for some of the program needs that allowed us to have enhanced experiences.
Thank you to the teachers and administrators in the school district for supporting us during this camp. Thanks to our school district for providing a bus to get us to and from the campus!
Last and not least, a special thanks to our parents, family and friends who supported us on this journey of new accomplishments, achievements and friendships- farewell for now!