In August, the Alternatives For Girls Rise N’ Shine summer camp came to an end. The 50 campers celebrated their memorable summer with a fun end of summer finale. Rise N’ Shine is a free six-week summer camp that gives girls living in southwest Detroit a safe space to learn new things, improve their reading skills, and make friends. For three days each week, the campers spend the day participating in fun, educational workshops. This summer, workshops included: gardening, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math), swimming, cooking, and more.
Reading and Gardening and Swimming, Oh My!
When asked what she enjoyed most at Rise N’ Shine this summer, 5-year-old Kimora’s answer was pretty broad as she giggled, “EVERYTHING!” Some of the campers were a bit more specific about the fun they had. When we asked 7-year-old Kai about her favorite Rise N’ Shine activity her eyes lit up as she smiled and replied, “Swimming class at the YMCA! I got to jump into the pool.” Many campers also liked S.T.E.A.M. class. When asked what she liked best about it, one camper answered, “I like that we could use our imaginations to create things.” Yareli, 8, was happy to share her favorite things about Rise N’ Shine, “I loved the field trips and meeting new friends!”
Youth Leaders help girls Rise N’ Shine
The campers all agreed that their youth leaders were an important part of the camp and helped to make it fun. Zahraa, a 15-year-old youth leader, enjoyed her summer with the girls from Rise N’ Shine. When recalling some of her favorite moments, she said, “I enjoyed spending time with the girls. I really liked it when we went to Carhartt to sell bath bombs [as part of an entrepreneur workshop hosted by the Carhartt Emerging Leadership Team]. The girls were really happy because they made a lot of money in sales.” Zahraa was one of 12 youth leaders from the Grow Detroit Young Talent Program. Juanita, 18, was another youth leader. She said that being around the girls this summer made her realize that working with children is her passion, “This is what I want to do,” she smiled.
Celebrating a summer well spent
The Rise N’ Shine Finale wraps up the fun of summer and allows the campers’ families to see what they have been busy with while at AFG. The finale kicked off with a performance from the 9 – 11 year old group. Throughout the summer, they completed a workshop with Matrix Community Theater and the girls wrote and produced an 8-page play! Their hard work and practice paid off once they were able to perform their masterpiece for friends and family. Judging by the laughter and applause, the audience thoroughly enjoyed their creativity and performance!
Next, the girls in the 7 – 8 year old group took the stage to read the stories that they wrote this summer while in their Literacy Exploration Workshop. The reading and writing activities were popular with the campers. Kai noted writing as a favorite activity, “I liked writing in my gardening journal. We wrote about gardening stuff like flowers.”
The audience then enjoyed poetry with a theme, “Inner Strength” from the 12 – 14 year old group, also a product of their Literacy Exploration Workshop. Each of the girls took to the mic to read poetry to the audience, some choosing to recite in both English and Spanish.
Then the 7 – 9 year old group entertained the audience with a lip sync battle! Two teams, the pink team and the black team, danced and lip synced along with their youth leaders. The winners were determined by applause and, though it was a close call, the pink team came out on top!
Goodbye for now…
After some special acknowledgements and awards, the youth leaders got together to put on a lively dance performance to Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls)”. The campers loved it! Finally, certificates and yearbooks were distributed. In the end, there were a lot of smiles and hugs as the girls signed each other’s yearbooks and waved goodbye for now. All of the campers seemed to agree on what they will miss most now that Rise N’ Shine is over for another year; their new friends! 8-year-old Yareli thought for a moment, then motioned toward the two little girls sitting with her and said, “I’m going to miss my best friend and my other best friend.”
When asked what she would miss the most when Rise N’ Shine ended, 5-year-old Kimora’s answer was the same as when we asked her what she enjoyed most. She once again giggled, “EVERYTHING!”