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Why do we need all girls’ camps?

By Hayden Manseau, 2017 Athena Camp Coach, Duke University Sophomore

This summer, I worked as a camp counselor at Athena Camps and interned with Dragonwing girlgear, two companies who share a mission: to empower girls through sports. This mission is close to my heart because playing sports has been a constant in my life since pee wee soccer: I took a winding road through sports until I settled on field hockey in high school, playing on my school’s nationally-ranked team. Each day that I worked my two jobs, I stored away little experiences and lessons without fully processing them, and now that my summer is ending, I am attempting to put all those pieces together. The most important thing I learned this summer is that girls and women must support each other to make progress. This lesson has come up again and again in both of my jobs in many different forms, and it goes beyond just sports. I have seen this summer how playing sports is a springboard for not only realizing your own physical and mental strength, but for appreciating that strength in other girls and bringing the collaboration from the field or the court into real life.

I learned how important it is to have female colleagues, friends, and role models: I worked on an all-female team of camp counselors, bonded with girls my age who I can now call good friends, and met older women who showed me the possibilities for what I can become. As a camp counselor, I also experienced for the first time what it was like to be a role model. There were little moments when I saw girls modeling what they did after me: wearing their hair like I did, coming to camp in a Duke shirt after I told them that’s where I go to school, copying what I made in art projects. I realized that because these girls looked up to me, I had to act like a good role model for them and use every opportunity I could to pass on the lessons I learned about sports and life in general. Those lessons were anything from how to properly kick a soccer ball to how to be a leader without being “bossy” to why we need all girls’ camps.

Why do we need all girls’ camps? I was asked this question three times by campers this summer, and at the time I had decent answers to give, but here is what I would say now:

“We need all girls’ camps because we need to know how powerful girls can be if we support each other.”

It’s that simple. Love your strength and love your sisters, and the world will be your oyster.

By Hayden Manseau

Hayden grew up in Los Gatos, California and graduated from Los Gatos High School in 2016. She has played sports all of her life, participating in soccer, basketball, cross country, and lacrosse, until she settled for field hockey in her high school years. Hayden is now a sophomore at Duke University studying Public Policy, Psychology, and Markets and Management. In her free time, Hayden enjoys running long distance, reading crime novels, and experimenting with new recipes. She hopes to pursue a career in law or business when she graduates from Duke in 2020.