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Raising Brave Girls

BY Tammy Fortune

September 11, 2019

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about bravery. I have found myself the parent of a daughter who is fearless. I say fearless and not brave because, to me, there is a difference. Fearless is the lack of fear and bravery is courage despite having fear.

One of my favorite TED talks focuses on the topic of raising brave girls; a very important topic for a parent but of course as the director of an all girls sleepaway camp! Caroline Paul, a firefighter, paraglider, and author of “The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure”, exclaims in a TED talk about what she and researchers have noticed about our society’s tendency to encourage timid and helpless behavior in girls. Now, this is a strong claim and let me tell you a bit more about what they have found. 

A research project studied the dynamics of a playground where there was a fire pole. Researchers found that moms and dads were very likely to warn their daughters about the risk of playing on the fire pole and were more apt to assist them on it. On the other hand, boys were encouraged by their moms and dads to play on the fire pole despite any trepidation and these boys were given guidance on how they could use the fire pole independently. The message was clear: girls should be fearful while boys should be brave! Obviously we don’t agree with that here at Wa-Klo!

How do we combat this issue? How do we raise brave girls? Caroline Paul cites that getting outside of one’s comfort zone, calling upon resiliency, and finding confidence in oneself and one’s decisions are attributes of bravery. In our little corner of the World, girls practice all of these things!

The simple act of going to sleepaway camp is one way our girls have gone outside of their comfort zones. Our girls are able to push themselves out of their comfort zone daily. They try new activities, make new friends, and for our international campers, they are going to camp in another country with English not their native language.

Last year, we talked about how important it is to fail and to build resiliency from it. When campers try new activities, they aren’t always successful the first, second, or even third time! Campers become resilient as they persevere with these new activities. They learn that they might not always be the best at something but it is still worth doing! I love watching and hearing our campers trying new activities. You can hear the campers cheering for each other as they try water skiing and get up for the first time! 

Wa-Klo girls also gain self-confidence and pride in their decision making as they choose activities, manage different social situations, and experience many other firsts at Wa-Klo. What an amazing feeling to be independent, make these types of decisions, and advocate for oneself all while being away from their family. What an incredible foundation has been established on which your daughter will continue to build on in future summers at Wa-Klo.

  • Tammy Fortune