“Why do we have a small butt hole?” This question, along with many others, was pulled from the anonymous question box during the Girls Inc. class known as Informed and In Charge. Although I was leading my own STEM class in the morning, my afternoons were spent as support in the class Informed and In Charge with a group of seventh grade girls. The class was essentially the “sex ed class you never got in middle school.” We spent nearly two hours a day discussing everything from sexuality to contraceptives, and despite how uncomfortable it made the girls, they always walked into class eager to learn. However, the girls also came prepared with tons of questions and I had to think strategically about my answers. I wanted to tell them everything, but I took a step back and thought about what it was like to be a seventh grader again.
Seventh grade was one of the most confusing years of my life. I remember spending so much time trying to fit in with the “popular girls” that I lost sight of my own interests and passions. I was preparing for my Bat Mitzvah at the time and toying with the idea of becoming a “real woman.” At that time I didn’t even know how to be myself, let alone be an adult under the Jewish faith. Just like the girls at camp, I was getting my period, gossiping about boys, and struggling to find my place in the world. With this in mind, I put myself in the shoes of the campers. I answered their questions carefully; I wanted to be honest with the girls, but I didn’t want to scare them. By the end of the week, I was so impressed by the girls’ willingness to learn and extremely pleased with what we were able to cover in class. The girls were beginning to become comfortable with their bodies and the changes middle school would bring and now had the knowledge to pursue positive relationships.
Not only were the girls learning tangible information, but they were also forming relationships with each other. It brought me so much joy to watch the girls engage with each other in activities during class and continue the conversation together outside of class. After spending a whole week with the same group of girls, I was able to grow close with them too. In fact, I now have fifteen new best friends! Being a role model to not only these girls, but to all the campers has brought me so much fulfillment. The energy brought by the girls is contagious; I am excited each day because I know it will be filled with all sorts of new experiences and laughs. I feel as if I am now also “informed and in charge” as I enter another week of camp. I have the knowledge from the first week of camp to enter the second week even more confident and ready. I can’t wait to continue learning from and building relationships with the girls while also growing closer with my cohort as we go through these final four weeks together.