This past week, I was lucky enough get to be a “counselor” at a summer camp for grown ladies. This sounds somewhat ridiculous at first, but when you think about it for a few minutes, it actually makes perfect sense – what could be better than gathering in the woods for what amounts to a 5 day slumber party filled with an 80’s dance party, cocktail hours with champagne in mason jars, sleeping head to head with friends in cabin bunk beds, and making friendship bracelets for hours.
I expected to have a great time – having enjoyed being a counselor at a summer camp in college, I figured this was right up my alley and some of my favorite people would be there, so it would have to be fun. What I didn’t totally expect was the emotional impact of the trip. Every woman who went to camp came in totally open to sharing, learning, and growing, because, like so many of us, they rarely get that chance in their “real” lives. I heard so many women lament the fact that in their daily lives, they put on masks and shields, afraid to be vulnerable, to share their stories or who they really are with those around them. Some felt disconnected from community, some were still recovering from past trauma, some were feeling lost in their search for a fulfilling career or a successful relationship, and all wondered whether anyone else was feeling the way they felt.
Throughout the week, so many of the women at camp opened up and shared deeply personal stories with our whole group – some joyful, some sorrowful, all unique yet completely relatable to everyone there. As tears of recognition flowed, I was reminded of how few opportunities we give women to share their true authentic selves, to own and tell their own stories, and to see stories like theirs reflected back at them. Through this sharing of stories, a community was almost instantly formed. Women left our five day experience knowing they had sisters for life – women who deeply understood them, cared for them, and would stand by them.
That is the power of stories. They create community. They make us feel less alone. They help us feel understood. That is one huge reason why I am so committed to our mission here. I want to create communities of young women who don’t have to wait until their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s to finally feel like they’ve found a place to share and be themselves. I want that for them right now.
If you agree that we need more spaces for women to share their stories and create strong communities with each other, please consider donating and helping us in our pilot program!