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Girls! Enlightened, Empowered, Empathetic Retreat

The girls bonded on the retreat; one attendee said, “I learned to be confident and I loved making friends.”

By Lisa Nicklanovich; photo courtesy of Staci McCormack

Thirteen Douglas County high school girls, ninth through twelfth grade, attended the first Girls! Enlightened, Empowered, Empathetic Retreat February 15 and 16 at the outdoor education center in Larkspur.

The retreat was facilitated by Staci McCormack, student wellness coordinator for Douglas County schools, and Ann Walton, deputy for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. Both saw a need to encourage high school girls, outside the school environment, to be confident in themselves and accepting of others.

Set among pine trees with birds chirping and turkeys strutting about, the outdoor education center was the perfect place to take a break from the challenges and pressures of life and school. McCormack said, “The girls were welcomed as our guests and after about an hour-and-a-half of activities, they were excited to get the most out of the rest of the weekend.”

McCormack and Walton explained to the girls that while they were the facilitators, the girls were the ones bringing the content and meaning to the retreat. The girls participated in many discussions and activities including “restorative circles,” toasting marshmallows around a campfire, and ziplining.

In a closing ceremony, the girls shared what they learned about themselves and their relationships. McCormack stated, “The group of girls was varied in their interests and paths in life, yet they became very close. Many of the girls asked if they could come back the next weekend and if the retreat could be longer.” One participant shared, “I made many fantastic, worthwhile friends. I’ll be keeping in touch with all of them.”

A second free retreat will take place May 10 and 11 thanks to a grant. Send e-mail to register. Donors are needed to support future retreats ($2,000 will fund a retreat, but donations in any amount are welcome.) Contact by e-mail for more information about making a donation.



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