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Summer Leadership Camp: Why Being a Mentor Matters

October 12, 2015

Summer Leadership Camp

By Sarah Williams, Community Engagement Fellow, United Way of the Greater Triangle

Mentor is defined as:

  1. a wise and trusted counselor or teacher;
  2. an influential senior sponsor or supporter.

At this year’s “Discover the Leader in You” camp at Girl Scouts – NC Coastal Pines, I had the chance to mentor and be mentored and it was a wonderful, powerful experience.

Now in my mid-twenties, post high school, college and grad school where I had countless influential teachers and mentors, I am grateful for the women in my life who have provided me so much guidance and support. As a result, I have been eager to find opportunities to pay it forward and by mentoring to help other young girls grow into their best selves.

I don’t know that I have the necessary wisdom or extensive experience to be the best mentor yet in life, but through my Community Engagement Fellowship at United Way of the Greater Triangle I had the opportunity to volunteer with this camp. As soon as I read about it, I knew I wanted to be a part, to try to pay it forward to these young girls, and support their empowerment to make a difference in their own communities.

At camp, I expected to have the chance to mentor. What I didn’t expect was how much I would be mentored through the process.

First, I had the privilege to meet two young girls with big hearts and dreams to impact their community. One wanted to help save animals from the streets and bring publicity to local animal shelters. Another wanted to help people in poverty find clothes. I learned that she loved fashion and put on fashion shows for her family so we tried to blend her talents and her desire to give back. She created a social action plan to host a clothing drive and organized fashion shows at local shelters, so those who received their new clothes could feel beautiful and special.

While I walked in to the experience hoping to give back, I walked away having received so much. First, I learned so much from the girls. I wish I was that others-focused at their age and that eager to make an impact in my community. I was so impressed with all of the girls at camp, their ideas, and their social action plans. It is clear that these girls are on a great path with Girl Scouts to become leaders in their communities.

Secondly, I had the chance to attend the Town Hall on the final day of camp with a number of women far wiser, more influential and experienced than myself.  These local professionals were there to share some of their advice to the girls at camp. The girls asked these women leaders a number of great questions including their biggest struggles and successes, lessons learned, who their own mentors were, etc. It is a beautiful and powerful thing when women come together to grow and support one another.

It caused us all to reflect and grow and learn through the experiences, ideas and sisterhood of the powerful women – both young and old – that was shared in that room.  I am grateful to have been able to be a part of Girl Scouts Leadership Camp – to grow as a mentor and mentee with all of those wonderful campers and women leaders. I think we all discovered more about leadership and ourselves through this camp.

Summer Leadership Camp was made possible in part by grants from AAUW, Eddie and Jo Allison Smith Family Foundation, Greenville Noon Rotary Club, Harold H. Bate Foundation, M&F Bank, North Carolina Community Foundation and its affiliates, NC EMC, RA Bryan Foundation, Rockingham Rotary Club, Sonitrol, United Way of the Greater Triangle Women’s Leadership Council, and many others. Nearly 100 middle school girls were able to attend Summer Leadership Camp at no cost to them because of the generosity of these donors and other friends of Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines. We are so grateful to them and to all the mentors and facilitators who participated in this year’s camp. To find out about how you can participate with Summer Leadership Camp next year, please email Emily Hill or call 919-600-6347.

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