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“We don’t have any fruit at home.” I heard this as I was passing out snacks noticing that a girl had her arms full of fruit. This moment brought me the most perspective this week.

Monday was the first day of camp as well as my first time leading a classroom. As a person who does not get nervous or stressed easily, I was shocked to feel my stomach in knots and my mouth dry. I made sure to drink coffee that morning so I would be assertive and energetic. My first lesson plan went well even with the hiccup of not having the necessary supplies to execute the lesson. I was proud of myself, and continued that sense of pride after Tuesday’s lesson, but leaving my morning STEM block on Tuesday, I felt that I might not get what I thought I would out of the program. To me, after that class, I felt as though I was purely a camp counselor and was not making a difference in these girls lives.

That changed after co facilitating “Safe Dates” with another Girls Inc. Staff member. At the end of each class, we would have each girl write something on a notecard and hand it in, whether that be a question about the topics we were discussing, a comment, or a compliment. It was after the second day of this class that we received some alarming notecards. Some of the girls wrote about relationship struggles, while others wrote about how they did not feel safe going home. We brought these comment cards to our supervisor and she informed us that many of the girls were living in foster homes or were homeless. When I heard this, my heart sunk. I realized that while the girls had their own struggles, they were hiding them so well from me. It was saddening to know that the girls were strugging. However, it was equally as saddening to know how well they could hide their problems.

Thursday, I heard a girl say she didn’t have fruit at home. This statement was validation that each girl has their own struggles, and while some do not show it, they are all dealing with hardships. The week was fulfilling because I feel that both the girls and I are getting a lot out of camp.

The week culminated with a trip to Knott’s Berry Farm which was enjoyable and a great end to the week. It seemed fitting to go to Knott’s because my week was a roller coaster of ups, downs, and emotions.