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This weekend was Family Fun Fest, the orientation day for Eureka camp. Going in, I was both nervous and excited to meet the girls and their families, and to get a taste of what camp would be like. The day started cloudy and cold, as we frantically ran around setting up last minute decorations while the first families began to trickle in and mill around the stations we set up around the Girls Inc. courtyard. My station was called “Informed and In Charge,” where I explained to parents that their girls were going to learn about how to make safe and informed decisions as they grow up. Meanwhile, the girls were filling out a board behind us with what the phrase “healthy relationship” meant to them. Some were timid to participate, but others, especially returning girls from the previous summer, were eager to tack their thoughts on the board. Within an hour, it was covered in “understanding,” “kindness,” “honesty,” … “respect.” It warmed my heart to see how even though every girl came from different backgrounds, a healthy relationship still meant the same to them. Even though we all have different experiences, we can all find common ground to understand how to treat each other well.

As the day went on, the weather warmed up, and so did the girls to the facilitators and to each other. While the parents were given a separate presentation inside, the girls stayed behind with the facilitators to play ice-breaker games. This was our first chance to get to know them. We played everything from name games to classic camp games, and even in this short time, I saw some girls begin to open up to us. I remember, one girl in particular was too afraid to participate in a name game, but as we encouraged her to play in more and more games, she began to laugh and run around with the others. By the end of the day, most girls began to share the same enthusiasm for camp. We all left excited for what Eureka had in store, the girls for making new friends, and I for being able to make an impact on a girl’s life, in anything from STEM, to healthy relationships, to self-confidence.

Even though maintaining a high level of energy at Family Fun Fest left me drained at the end, it paid off hundred-fold. I got a taste of what camp was going to be like—exhausting but sweet. And as we wrapped up the day, the sun finally peaked out from behind the clouds and smiled on us. It’s going to be a great summer.