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"I loved the end of camp affirmations they gave each girl. More companies and camps could benefit from this human interaction with others!"
Parent of a Junior Camper
"The two camps my daughter attended this summer were amazing for her confidence and self-esteem. This was the only camp that she had no hesitation walking through the door. A few times she asked if she could stay longer to play with her new friends! Teaching kindness to young girls is so important and your amazing coaches helped foster such a safe and welcoming environment. We are so thankful we found this camp and can't wait for next summer."
Parent of a Mini Camper
Everything is intentional at Athena Camps. Organizers of the summer day camps, held at Loyola School through August, designed the program to build confidence in young girls, ages 5-11, through sports, art and affirming group discussions. The camps’ activities fulfill three purposes – let the girls be themselves, connect with each other and learn from strong female role models, according to Aby Ryan, Athena Camps CEO and founder. “When I started Athena Camps, I wanted to address character building and all the issues girls face growing up – cliques, bullying, losing their voice,” Ryan said. “I wanted the girls to feel special and unique and also connected to each other, and give them a place where they just feel free to express who they are.” Celebrating girl power The one-week sessions focus on two sports and art projects centered on an overarching theme, such as “Dream Big,” “Inner Beauty” or “Celebrating Friendship.” Campers, separated by age, rotate through three stations throughout the day, one for each sport and the final for arts and crafts. Sports activities are noncompetitive, instead focusing on technical training and games. The arts and crafts, from dream catchers to friendship bracelets, underscore the weekly theme. Coaches and directors facilitate discussions aimed at empowering the girls. “We have girl-power games and inspirational discussions, and try to let them just get their bodies moving,” Ryan said. “We’re intentional about all the lessons.” The setting of Athena Camps is perhaps as important as the activities. The camps, set up on the grass and blacktop and in a classroom at Loyola, are quiet, the quarters close so that the girls “feed off each other’s positive energy” and feel safe without the pressure of observation, Ryan said. The arts and crafts are held in a room covered with the girls’ drawings – a relaxation corner on the edge of the room boasts beanbags and girl-centered books that offer a respite from collage making and painting. A team of coaches and a director oversee every activity. Ryan said she hires young women in college, usually student athletes, an attempt to tap into their “energy.” “These coaches are all college girls, with some experience of being on a team and new life experiences,” she said. “They can relate to the girls while also teaching them by just being themselves.” A model for growth The coaches, setting and activities have created a formula for Athena Camps, which is now held at three locations in the Bay Area. Since its inception in 2011, the program has grown from serving 300 girls to more than 500 in locations in Willow Glen, San Jose and now Los Altos. While Ryan was surprised by the growth, she said she still has big goals. “I’d like to replicate the experience in more places in the Bay Area, but keep the magic and the quality of the camp,” she said. So far, feedback from both parents and girls has been positive. Girls at a recent camp said their experiences were “awesome.” Three stepped forward to show their “affirmation” bracelets – jewelry that Ryan and her team award to a group of girls each day for standout behavior. Each bracelet has a message – “Dream Big,” “Never Give Up,” “Dare to Dream.” Ryan said the giving of the bracelets – the recognition that they had done something positive – is by far the girls’ favorite part of the day. By the end of each week, every girl will receive a bracelet. It’s a gift Ryan gives away, but she said she gets another in return. “It’s a gift to feel I’m a channel to give away all the gifts I was given,” she said. “I can’t believe I get to do this.” To register and for more information, visit www.athenacamps.com. Link to Los Altos Town Crier article http://www.losaltosonline.com/news/sections/schools/45103-j46643
Los Altos Town Crier
Chris & Lexi spent two weeks at Athena Camps in Willow Glen this summer. It was such an amazingly powerful experience that I had to share with other St. Mary’s parents of girls. I got to watch the girls getting excited about sports and also to hear their positive stories and improvement in how they interacted with each other in conflict resolution. They brought home incredible crafts that were focused on building their self-esteem. The coaches are all college women who are into teaching and sports. They were some of the most high-caliber young women I’ve met. The first day of camp, I was a bit nervous as our girls have not been into doing sports. When I picked them up, I asked how it was. Chris said, “Mom, we didn’t like it. We LOVED it!” That feeling stayed there the whole time and when I got to go to their special Friday closing event, I was crying along with many of the other moms. It was just so special.
"Athena Camps is the best camp I have ever been to. I love it so much that I have come every year for 4 years. I recommend it to everyone."
"This camp was a great platform to discuss social media and peer pressure as she embarks on attending middle school this fall. Since the camp she has also shown an increased interest in doing exercises and feeling good about herself!"
Parent of a Middle School Camper
"Thank you for offering such a wonderful environment for our girls! I’m proud of her participation there and I look forward to next time. You are inspiring!!!"
Parent of a Mini Camper
"The idea is to empower the girls without running away from their femininity." This quote was taken from the article published in the July 26th San Jose Mercury News. You can view the entire article at the link below. http://www.mercurynews.com/sal-pizarro/ci_28535481/pizarro-girl-power-reigns-at-athena-camps