Summer seminar teaching kids to Lead like a Girl

Date Published: 
July 11, 2014

Why should it be an insult to say someone does something “like a girl”?

Sarah Daisey Clark says it shouldn’t be, which is why she’s facilitating “Lead like a Girl,” a summer camp for girls in grades 5 to 9. Through the camp, Lead Your Way Solutions is aiming to help girls discover their personal strengths and authentic leadership style.

“Anyone can be a leader,” Clark said. “I think leadership is taking control of your own life [so girls] find strength and become advocates for themselves,” instead of seeing oneself as a victim.

Together, girls will combat challenges facing young women, such as communication in the age of social media, wellness, body image, the quest for perfection and enduring gender stereotypes.

There are two sessions — one for fifth- and sixth-graders (July 28-31) and another for seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders (Aug. 4-7).

“Girl power” was a major theme of the 1990s, when Clark was growing up.

“People might say it was a fad, but at least it was out there and it was celebrated. It was tremendously powerful,” Clark said. “Today, you don’t see that celebration of girls’ empowerment.”

Children’s average of 10-plus hours per day of television and social media includes a lot of pretty faces, but “You don’t really see female leadership,” Clark said.

Many women will help Clark lead the conference, showcasing new ideas and role models.

When asked to name a strong female leader, Clark noted, girls “can’t think of anyone currently, because they don’t see that” in the media.

“At those ages, they’re so impressionable, but all they’re really presented with is images of femininity that are extremely negative and so stereotypical,” Clark said. “It gets to their psyche … and they start to think their looks are the most important thing, and their looks become their barometer of self-worth.”

Clark hopes to turn girls’ attention outward, help them gain a new perspective and let them see “there’s so much out there besides themselves.”

The girls will lead and collaborate during a stand-up paddleboard day at James Farm Ecological Preserve, followed by a community service project designed to point them in new directions. Between physical activity, mental health, community service and new role models, Clark said she hopes the girls will feel more empowered.

“They, hopefully, won’t be obsessing so inwardly. I think it’s really going to open up their minds,” Clark said. “We’re really trying to give them every opportunity to think outwardly.”

Some adults might think girls are too young to need to deal with some topics. But according to national studies, Clark said, women’s confidence peaks at age 9. That’s when they begin dieting, and by age 10 they are “afraid of being fat.” That’s fifth grade.

So a health specialist will participate in the camps to discuss yoga, stress-relieving tactics and other wellness issues.

After decades of “run like a girl” and “throw like a girl” being an insult, Clark said, “That’s absurd. When did something ‘like a girl’ become an insult? That made me angry. That’s not right at all. This program is going to take a stand against that.”

Clark’s ready to “reclaim that phrase, make it something really desirable, teach them leading like a girl is something to be proud of.”

She has read about males generally being much more confident than females — a “confidence gap” she hopes to reduce.

“My hope is that Lead like a Girl will be an antidote to that.”

Recently, Clark met a mother whose young daughter used to love singing — until another child mocked her, just once. Suddenly the girl became more reserved, stopped singing and wouldn’t audition for shows.

“One sting like that can set you back so much,” Clark mourned.

“I just want this program to be a safe space for girls to get together,” she said. “In this world, confidence is really everything.”

Lead Your Way Solutions is no stranger to leadership or youth programs. For 11 years, the leadership consulting company has led customized seminars for individuals and organizations. However, this female empowerment class is a pilot program, though Clark has taught entrepreneurship for local schools and studied women’s issues and leadership studies at University of Virginia.

The camps run four days each, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with a snack included. Scholarship funding is available for any girl in a federal need-based program, such as those who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches at school. Spots are filling up, and organizers are aiming for an intimate, special experience. The cost is $245 for the session (bring a friend and receive 10 percent by entering the promo code FRIEND at registration).

To learn more, contact Sarah Daisey Clark at (302) 858-6296 or sclark@leadyourwaysolutions.com.

Register online at www.leadyourwaysolutions.com/resources/calendar.

The camp is being hosted at The Learning Space, 35581 Atlantic Avenue, Millville. If successful, future seminars may be offered for girls and boys.