Remember this one time when there was still snow on the ground, I told you about a summer camp for girls? The camp is called GLOW (Girls Leading Our World). I even asked people to donate to it. If you did donate, thank you so much for your contribution!! I was able to help out for a day with GLOW, and I thought I would tell you how it went.

How GLOW works:
Each year about 50 girls ages 15-17 attend this summer camp. These girls come from the regions in Azerbaijan where there are not many opportunities. Prospective campers are identified by PCVs and the girls fill out a questionnaire stating why they want to go to camp. A committee receives all the questionnaires and picks at least 2 girls from each region. When July comes, they get to go to camp for a week.

On July 24 all the girls arrived at camp where they got to settle in to their cabins and play introductory games. A typical day during camp looks like this: morning exercise, breakfast, first session, lunch, second session, activity break, dinner, evening activities, and bed time. At the sessions speakers talk about different issues such as body image, human trafficking, goals setting, and community projects. These courses are designed so that the girls learn more about what makes them unique, gain courage, and learn about what they can do to be leaders in their community. The activities are a time for fun. We planned different games like a hand jive, balloon toss, t-shirt dying, art project, etc. so that the girls can use their creativity. Evening activities usually consist of some type of bigger event like a dance party, talent show, or bonfire.

My Experience:
I was at camp on July 26 to 27. I had arrived at lunch time. Even though I was a complete stranger to most of them and had just arrived, they were eager to talk to me and get to know me. I sat through a talk about human trafficking and after helped demonstrate and organize the hand-jive competition. As I sat in on sessions and joined in with activities, I couldn’t help notice the supportive uplifting atmosphere these girls, councilors, and PCVs had created. If anyone felt down or was alone, there was someone to find out the problem or invite that girl to join in. If there was a girl not participating, the other girls encouraged one another to join in. No one could feel left out unless they tried super hard. This even applied to PCVs like me. The evening activity had been a dance party. We decorated the little area we had with balloons and streamers while the girls got dressed up. We gave each girl a glow-in-the-dark bracelet and necklace. I danced to some songs but not all. When I wasn’t dancing, the girls would come up to me and ask me to dance. Once the Azerbaijani music came on, I didn’t dance as much. Once again I had a few girls come up, take my hands, and dance with me.

The next morning I got to teach the girls a dance for morning exercise. I know, me, dance? YUP! This white girl doesn’t have many moves, but I had been working on a dance for a Flash Mob I wanted to do. I had a routine down that a professional had choreographed. As the morning session got underway, I helped set up for the afternoon activities. There would be a balloon toss, picture frame making, and friendship bracelet making. Unfortunately, I had to leave after lunch so I could make it to work on Thursday.

The camp was once again a success. It’s now time to start the planning for next year. There is a lot of planning that goes into this camp. Plans involve supplies, finances, and activities. Also in the plans is making this camp sustainable. Every year PCVs are making this camp more and more sustainable, so that when Azerbaijan no longer needs the Peace Corps, this program can still go on.

Thanks again for all who donated. The money donated went to purchase supplies, rent for the camp site, travel expenses to get the girls to and from the camp, food, and covered some of the costs for guest speakers. This camp would not have been as successful without your donation.