I attended an all girls summer camp when I was young for many years. At the time I blissfully lived with the idea that equality was something I was born with, and that it was neither a problem nor unordinary that I spent my days at school recess playing soccer instead of “house”. Almost 10 years later from the year I started attending this camp, I became a counselor and when I was applying for the job one aspect of the job description stood out to me “be a role model, empower women”. I hadn’t given a single thought to the mission statement of the camp, when I was a camper but know this was my role, my job description, and expectation.
Now this camp is very special, not only to me, but also of what it consists of. It is a wilderness tripping camp. There is a girls camp and across the lake there is a boys camp. Every year you go on a trip with your cabin, starting with one night to 24 — each year the challenge more rigorous and the trip longer in length, challenging you in different ways. One of my campers this year was a 13 year old girl named Emma. She had a good friend at the boys camp across the lake, the same age as she. This year was one of the first of the longer trips for my girls, 10 days. Three days were started hiking in the Bigelow mountains, some of the hardest terrain of the Appalachian Trail and the rest spent canoeing down a river and crossing some lakes along the way, all ending with the ever exhilarating white water rafting down the Kennebec River.
When we are out there paddling we are the only all girls group ever, and people we see make the same comment, as though it wasn’t obvious. So Emma looks at me one day, after a very tiring day and asks, “do the boys do a harder trip than us?” “Nope.” I replied “Is it longer?” ” Nope.” I repeated. We do exactly the same thing as they do, sometimes we even do it faster. Another camper whipped around, “why?” she asked, “because we can” I replied. They beamed looking back at me with such a fire in their eyes, and I swear they held their chins so high, I knew I had held up my end of the bargain — even though it was them doing it.