Shelley Zalis says “A woman alone has power; collectively we have impact”
Women supporting women is a main focus for me throughout my summers. At Wa-Klo, we empower girls, whether campers or staff, to be confident, independent, and have a voice. To have the best results and to have the most impact on each camper and staff, we each need to support one another; raise each other up. It is very easy to say an unkind word. To wonder why one person earned a certain position whether that be Tribe Chief, a leadership team member, or some other additional responsibility we have here at camp. It is easy to cut someone else down to ease the pain of not earning something that you desire. Or another example being that we all want to feel connected.
The feeling of being connected can help us feel settled and comfortable, especially in new communities or environments. I have witnessed that talking badly about someone else, rolling your eyes, or making a joke at someone else’s expense are some ways that people use to feel that connection. At Wa-Klo, we strive to create a community where these are not the ways in which our campers and staff connect with each other. We support each other. We find other ways to feel connected such as common experiences, similarities and respecting and celebrating differences.
I hope by the time you leave our Wa-Klo community, whether that be at the end of the summer or after your 10th (or more summer), that we have been able to instill in you the idea that women should support women so much so that it is natural and something you don’t even realize you are doing.
The Harvard Business Review found that there is a significant difference in the benefit of women having an inner circle of close female contacts much more than for men. In the workforce, women continue to battle cultural and systemic hurdles; hurdles that are so deeply engraved that even though we have been working towards eliminating them, we aren’t there yet. One of the best ways to impact this is by supporting each other and finding and cultivating a close network of females.
In an article I read, women leaders outlined a way to do this. As I was reading, the 5 pieces of advice hit home for me. These steps are exactly what we are doing here at Wa-Klo. Like I said before, it starts here.
- Take the word “work” out of networking adults talk a lot about this idea of “networking”. What they mean is connect with others. This piece of advice means don’t treat it like work. Your goal for a relationship shouldn’t be to advance in life whether that be socially or in your career. Build genuine relationships where you have shared interests and goals. These relationships will be the most impactful.
- Prioritize relationship building I love camp for many reasons; the best part though…. The friends you make here. I know you all agree! Here at camp, you prioritize each other. The amount of times, you all ask for cabin connection time is a testament to that! Wa-Klo friends, are there for each other during the summer and during the school year. Countless times, I’ve heard of a Wa-Klo camper leaning on her camp friends during tough times during the year.
- Know that connection building isn’t one and done. To have a true and lasting relationship, it is something that needs to be nurtured. At camp, you do this every day. You make deep connections that stand the test of time. Just meeting someone isn’t enough to change your life forever. Developing a deep friendship that takes time. It’s not something that can happen overnight but it can over many nights and does here at camp
- Amplify other women. This is the idea of women supporting women. Build each other up. Keep the kind words coming and the unkind thoughts at bay. Find the good in everyone around you and speak about it. Tell someone when they are doing a great job or if you notice something exceptional that they are doing. This supportive behavior will help us all. This is something I continue to practice. I try to stop campers and staff on the paths and tell them something I notice or I will write a note to a staff member about what a great job they are doing. At Wa-Klo, we try to find up and coming camp professionals and give them the opportunity to learn and grow here at Wa-Klo. We amplify women. When all is said and done, we all do better when we are supported by other women.
- Find your squad—and tap into them. This one yells camp! Wa-Klo is the best spot to find your squad. We all need a squad. A squad doesn’t necessarily mean a large group. Your squad can be 1 or 2 of your closest friends. Have friends that you can confide in, who you can go to when things are tough, or when things are great! At camp when you’re having a tough day and are missing home or are having an amazing day, your Wa-Klo squad is there for you. They are there to help pick you up or celebrate your efforts and successes. We see each other at our best and at our worst. This allows us to be the tightests of squads because there is no hiding things at camp; it is with these types of experiences that you can develop your truest and most genuine friends.
Take this advice and have it guide you even after your final walk down Pine Drive. Always remember the lessons you learned at Wa-Klo and how women supporting each other contributes to our success as a whole. “A woman alone has power; collectively we have impact”