Last week, some very dedicated women put on Jamaica’s first-ever Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World). It is a camp that aims to help girls to see their potential for leadership and to cultivate their involvement in community engagement.
It is also an initiative that myself and some other PCV women tried and failed to initiate during our two years of service.
Let me explain. In late 2014, we started the planning process. In early 2015, we learned lots of tough lessons as we jumped through hoops to write up a grant proposal and to secure a partner organization. We grew a lot in those months. The camp was to take place in summer of 2015. We had a ton of really great programs on the books, like self-esteem through art, meditative breathing and yoga strategies for stress management, and career planning.
We wanted everything to run as smoothly as it could, seeing as how the first year of camp would set the tone for future years to come. Things were looking pretty good. But then our partner organization backed out.
It was a huge setback, and while we scrambled to find a new partner organization and to get things together in time, one thing led to another and reality wore us down. “Maybe next year.” We were crushed.
Down but not defeated! My friends and I bucked up and put together a comprehensive resource file. We made a succession plan and had a conference call with interested women in Group 86, the group that arrived a year after we did, to help enable them to put on an amazing camp in Summer 2016.
And then we took a step back and let them run. They were kind enough to my ego to let me share advice where I could, since I’m still here. Thanks ladies!
Although the grant deadline came up quick and there were a few stressful moments for them along the way, the women of Group 86 did it! They pulled it off! Camp GLOW Jamaica 2016 mash up di ting til it mash dung!
Recently, I was at the US Embassy for a “hail and farewell” event, which takes place each time they welcome new US staff and say goodbye to individuals who are moving on. One of the people they were bidding farewell was a man retiring from a full, successful career with the State Department after his time here in Jamaica, and although I do not know him, his words stuck with me. He shared a bit of advice with us: “A leader succeeds when (s)he helps others to succeed” (or something to that affect).
I was fortunate to be able to attend Camp GLOW for a day with the PCJ staff, and being there really brought it home for me. Although my group did not actually facilitate the camp ourselves, I could see that our hard work did not go in vain. I genuinely feel like our “failure” was not a failure at all, but rather, some tough ground work that helped to make this event happen. When one of us succeeds, we all do. This project has enormous potential to impact rural communities across Jamaica by engaging girls to give back to their communities, to help build their communities through volunteerism, and to bring them all together at an annual, culminating event.
So ladies, cheers to you. You did it! And I couldn’t be more proud. Like, really, I’ve been bragging to everyone I know, spamming staff with your fabulous Instagram and Facebook pages, and beaming all month long. (<–Click to check out those pages!!) Congratulations!
Oh, and check out this wonderful photo project that was inspired by this one that I did with some of my students last September. Girls were invited to finish the sentence “Jamaican girls are…”
Jamaican girls are smart, creative, strong, courageous, fearless, beautiful. Couldn’t have said it better myself, girls!