Bug spray, campfire songs and cell phones…welcome to Camp CEO

What happens when 25 girls between the ages of 14 and 18, hailing from underprivileged backgrounds are placed into a weeklong business camp? Amazing results. Last week, I was lucky enough to take part in the second annual Girl Scouts of the Citrus Council’s Camp CEO. The camp, offers young ladies the opportunity to create a business, learn professional skills and enjoy one-on-one time with top executive women from around the metro-Orlando area.

Each CEO was paired with one to two girls to mentor throughout the week. The two young ladies whom shared their dreams with me had aspirations for success in the creative realm. One wished to become a photojournalist, while the other wanted to see her work strut down a runway during fashion week. Although, I am not a fashion designer and consider my photo talents amateur, I knew the three of us shared the same creative impulse.

As mentors, each of us was asked to speak to the girls about who we are and how we ended up where we are today. The women, from different industries, towns and upbringings, spoke animatedly to the girls about their passions, their dreams and what propelled them forward during the good times and the bad. Watching the girls blossom throughout the week, it was obvious that they weren’t just hearing the words coming from each us, but they were acting on them. In building their businesses, they showed compassion for selecting non-profit organizations to align with, they showed passion in the hours they put in to developing their final presentations and they showed a belief in themselves when they spoke to the CEOs of the lessons they learned from the camp.

By the end of the week, it was obvious that the lives of the girls and the CEOs had been changed for the better. Although many of the girls would be returning to foster homes, they would be returning with a newfound confidence and excitement for the future. The CEOs, having shared their life stories and uncovered the sad stories of those half their age would be returning home with a new sense of self, a vivid outlook on balance and a few of us a weekly mentor session.