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Girls & Women Who Build Each Other Up and Shower One Another in Praise

Published June 29th, 2018

I’m so incredibly grateful to the rains! Huddled around fires, with flawlessly tied tarps as our roof top, singing songs and sharing in closing ceremonies kept us toasty and cheery all day and brought us incredibly close to one another.

What a joy to hear the girl’s conversation in passing:

“This was the best day all year”

“I feel like our group is closer than ever”

“We need to get an Artemis group chat going!”

A huge highlight of our day was when the Grey Wolves were tasked with hanging a tarp while the instructors set up theirs. The Grey Wolves (a group of 12-14 year old girls) have been responsible for tarps for every one of our overnights and it was clear they had spent a lot of time honing their tarp skills when they finished setting up their tarp and the instructors were still wrestling to get the other tarp up! The Grey Wolves stood in confusion for a moment before realizing that they had finished well before the instructors. Nothing sweeter than the student surpassing the teacher!

Each group started off their day in their small group. The Red Squirrels and Grey Wolves spent their morning completing their bow drill kits (friction fire tools for making fire by rubbing sticks together) while the White Tailed Deer girls basked in appreciation for one another by gifting one another bark bags that they had made filled with sweet words of praise from each person.

We then gathered around and participated in a gift blanket. It’s such a special way to celebrate our last day together. Each person lay a gift down on the blanket. The youngest girl was allowed to pick the gift that she wanted first. Whoever made the gift that they picked got to go next, and so on. All of this happened in silent reverence. It was beautiful to see the myriad talents and crafty handmade creations from the girls; hand knit socks, soap, spoons, etc.

We then moved under a high tarp, dubbed the cathedral, for a closing tea ceremony. Each girl approached the fire to receive a warm cup of sweet chai tea as the group sent words of praise and admiration to her. What a gift to be a part of a community of girls and women who take the time to build each other up and shower one another in praise.

Each girl walked away beaming with pride and with a little flush in their cheeks after receiving so much attention.

We held an especially sweet ceremony for the Grey Wolves who would be graduating on, and I must admit, I cried in front of everyone thinking about when these young adults were my students way back when they were Red Squirrels (the youngest group of girls).

The rain brought us close together, but made it hard to take pictures. It’s been an amazing year filled with stories that will see us into our old age. I leave you with this one last image.

Thank you for all the work you have done and continue to do to make this experience available for your daughter and for us.

With care,
Esperanza and the Artemis team

Esperanza GonzalezEsperanza GonzalezEsperanza Gonzalez, Program Director

Esperanza is, and has always been, a teacher at heart. From the early age of 8 she would hold play groups in her church and tend to the young children who would often disrupt the sermons. This passion to teach carried on through the years, bringing her to SUNY New Paltz where she received her Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education and History. While living in New Paltz, she merged her love for the outdoors, her passion for teaching and her organizational and entrepreneurial skills into many different educational programs. She has taught in various local schools, led theater groups, kids yoga, art programs and of course worked with Wild Earth in a number of programs. Her commitment to community connection has guided her community service work in jails, juvenile centers, Americorps, inner-city art programs, soup kitchens and many more volunteer based initiatives. She sees every child's potential and knows there is no better way to hold their blossoming than through the arts and the exploration of the natural world. More about Esperanza's work.

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