Camperships

IMG_0053Camp HerShe serves girls 13-21. Camp would be unaffordable to foster youth if we did not provide camperships. As wards of the state, there is no one who is obligated to pay – the state isn’t obligated, government-funded foster parents aren’t obligated and, of course, the girls have no means of income.  But the camp component is essential to facilitating the girls’ ultimate success in the HerShe program. Removing them from their environment for an extended period of time gives them the space to step away from their situations and gain a fresh look at the possibilities instead of their current circumstances. The camp component is so powerful an d life-changing, in fact, that when the girls return from camp, the change is immediately perceptible to their friends, foster family and social workers.

Camp HerShe is designed to expose the girls to fun, outdoor activities and to provide them with a safe environment where they can explore and discuss their personal challenges. Horseback riding, kayaking, rock climbing, and swimming are among the typical camp activities that, for many of the girls, represent experiences they have never had. Bowling, picnics, singing karaoke, and telling stories around the campfire facilitate their bonding. And the formal curriculum, which is guided by trained professionals, includes counseling and intensive group discussions that address some of the acute challenges the foster girls have encountered within their families and even in the foster care system itself. Combined, the offerings of Camp Hershe provide a foundation of life and leadership skills that will prepare participants for their young adulthood.

The eight certified Life Coaches who developed the Camp HerShe curriculum bring remarkable insight to the DSCN3255process. The strength of the curriculum, which they originally developed for Yale University students, is matched by the education and life experiences they have pursued. Their cumulative biographies include a master’s degree in neuro-linguistic programming, a master’s degree in developmental psychology, active membership in the Maternal and Child Health program at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, and credit for having co-founded the Peer Leader ship Institute. This special group of Life Coaches is now known as the Catalyst Youth Leadership Project.

At only $2,500 per campership, the benefits to the young participants are remarkable. During their camp experience, they not only are exposed to extraordinary outdoor experiences, but they are coached through self-exploration that sets the stage for continued growth. The process begins to build a sisterhood among the girls. They leave camp knowing they “belong” to something – HerShe.

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