Summit Programs recognize and are sensitive to our community of girls and their unique needs and status within the community. At Summit Camp & Travel, we strive for our girls to excel, to feel safe and to be able to facilitate their own social success. In order to create this feeling of comfort girls are, from day one, appropriately grouped in cabins with peers who are similar to them. Unlike many of the school settings, our female campers are able to share a significantly larger number of female-female peer group interaction. In schools, our female campers are often the minority, but at camp they find a significant gender peer group.
Routinely we provide our girls directed opportunities to be a ‘girl’ and to feel comfortable while doing so. Our female staff works with our girls closely, living with them, modeling behaviors, and simply taking them through daily activities, which in turn has helped to create a much stronger emotional bond than that of a teacher within a classroom. Our female staff at Summit simply ‘gets them’ and are often seen as a friend, parent, older sister, and significant role model. It creates a more open and honest environment to learn, trust, and to explore. With the help of such a strong community, our female campers begin to feel that important sense of belonging and that they are a part of something larger as they grow stronger themselves.
Our female campers find similarities amongst each other, find a sense of unity, and begin to understand that being unique is all right – they are not alone. In working with our staff, our female campers also then begin to address subjects such as self-image, appearance and daily hygiene routines. They are guided in female-specific life skills. They often have such a desire to be accepted that it may cloud their judgment with fellow peers. With the help of our female staff, through role modeling, we teach them about more appropriately managing peer pressure, and not always to seek acceptance.
Many similar topics are covered during our ‘Tribes Sessions’ and our topic-centered conversation times called ‘Tea Time.’ Our Tribes sessions at Summit are similar to small social skills groups. Cabins gather with one of our support staff to discuss current issues within the bunk or outside of the bunk, groups are challenged with ‘what if’ situations and learn in a safe environment about ways to think socially. During our Tea Time, sessions (focused more specifically on girl-to-girl issues), our female campers are given the opportunity to discuss current issues, socially and emotionally, that affect them, in a safe environment. Our campers begin to understand the importance of self-awareness and the reciprocation of a conversation including, listening, because for some this is very difficult.
The activity of forming peer networks, recognizing self-image, managing peer pressure, having an opportunity to feel successful, learning from female mentors and overall learning how to value oneself is important for our female campers. Our female campers leave us in July or August with their heads held high and, hopefully, the confidence of knowing that someone believes in them, someone loves them and that they will be a success!