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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

GRRRL ... a Unique Summer Camp for Girls

Posted By on Wed, May 23, 2012 at 4:25 PM

You go grrrrrrl
  • You go grrrrrrl

Local women are putting a positive spin on the once antagonistic phrase "Throw like a girl!"  

In fact that directive is being displayed proudly across the banner of San Francisco's newest nonprofit: Girls Reclaiming Revolutionary Recreational Power, or "GRRRL" for short.

The goal of GRRRL's sponsors, Elizabeth Labedz and Whitney Daleiden, is to create a "network of powerful girls who are self-confident and support each other" by battling gender stereotypes. This includes the expectation that girls mold themselves into "the less intelligent, weaker, speak-when-spoken-to sex."

How will this goal come to fruition? Labedz and Daleiden are hosting a week-long summer camp for pre-teen girls at the Castro-based Eureka Valley Recreation Center.   

The camp will be the first of its kind, combining sport activities like soccer, rugby, dance and self-defense with educational workshops on nutrition, body image, and leadership skills. "We're intentionally pairing health-leadership and social-justice workshops with sports," Daleiden explains. "We want girls to learn that you can be strong instead of just focusing on being skinny."

GRRRL's philosophy of teaching empowerment rests on combating the "self-esteem drop" that occurs among girls in middle school. By focusing on health education, sports, and leadership development, the camp's instructors hope to debunk mainstream messages that perpetuate unrealistic beauty standards and promote healthy relationships. 

Eight volunteer coaches have been recruited to run the fledgling camp, which is slotted to occur this July. They hail from the Bay Area's more established organizations, including San Francisco CrossFit, Dance Mission Theater, Impact Bay Area, and the Respect Institute, to name a few. And thanks to the camp's sliding-scale policy, no girl will be turned away for lack of money.

Perhaps this camp will succeed in its goal to produce female powerhouses. After all, as their website points out, "it is no accident that 80 percent of the female executives at Fortune 500 companies identified themselves as former 'tomboys' -- having previously played sports."

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Laura Rena Murray


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