Wednesday, August 31, 2011


.....that is exactly what was in my house two weeks ago during Camp Amica session two!  The theme for this session was, you guessed it, "Girl Power"!

Every day we learned about a "woman of the day" someone who has made a difference in the world, we did a "craft of the day", "question of the day", "story of the day", ate lunch together and had free time (which we couldn't of planned a better week as the weather was perfect!!!).

The first day we explored Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan and their relationship.  Immediately some amicas realized that Anna Cate and her teacher, also Amy, shared the same kind of relationship that Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan shared!  It was wonderful to see them realize this on their own!  During morning chat I asked the girls as we went around the room if they could think of other women who have made a were some of their responses....

Susan B. Anthony, my mom, Rosa Parks, Betsy Ross, Helen Keller and saving the best for last.....
when I got to Katie, I asked her, just like I did everyone else, "do you know a woman who has made a difference", (and mind you I have never asked her this question!!!), without skipping a beat, she turned her head in Anne's direction and said her name!  It was one of the most amazing moments!!!!   And I couldn't agree with her more....Amy has got GIRL POWER for sure!!!!

We also played a little game where everyone had to go around the room and tell us their favorite animal, WITHOUT USING THEIR MOUTHS!!!  Mostly everyone acted it out, with the exception of Anna Cate who used her iPad and another girl who wrote it down.  It was hard for some of them to not use their mouths and for them to realize how hard it is not to use your mouth when you have that freedom every day.

We broke into out two groups this day and as group one worked on the making two frames (one for them and one for a special amica) the other group made chocolate covered pretzel rods and worked in their journals...and then they switched!  Lunch was cheese quesadillas and then they were able to enjoy their pretzels!

Day two....this was my favorite day...and the day that I was floating through the air in my own house!  The "woman of the day" was Mother Theresa, not bringing anything religious to the discussion, but for the main fact that she lived her life doing things for others and what groups she focused on helping.  So today's whole day was about doing something for someone else!  The girls learned that the frames that they made the day before was going to be going to a girl who lives with Rett syndrome, just like Anna Cate.  But to make the experience personal for them, each girl was given the chance to go to a computer or iPad and take the time to learn about who they wanted to pick as their "amica" from the Girl Power 2 Cure website!  I was BLOWN AWAY at the level of dedication these girls had in picking out their "amica".  After each girl picked their "amica" they painted a picture on a canvas for them and then wrote them a letter.  Many of the girls kept going back to the website to make personal connections to the girls by something they could relate to!  And one girl noticed her "amica's" birthday was in September so she painted balloons!  As MY "amicas" were busy, we listened to the GP2C cd and before the day was over all the girls were marked with the GP2C flower tattoo!!!  

The day seemed to have flown by as I felt like I was dreaming!  It was one of those perfect days.  And to see Anna Cate, picking an "amica" of her own and making a picture for another girl who lives with the same daily struggles that she faces every day....that is GIRL POWER!

While I was floating through the house I was preparing lunch which was homemade chicken nuggets and organic brown rice crispy treats!

And the last day, the "woman/girl of the day" was each of my AMICAS!  The day was about them and how they can make a difference today, tomorrow or in the future.  In morning chat we explored other children and teens and how they are making a difference and we talked about how THEY made a difference the day before!  The smiles that are going to be brought to the 10 faces of girls living with Rett syndrome shows how anyone can spread GIRL POWER!

During morning chat we went around the room and said who/what we would like to help by spreading girl power and the answers were split between helping homeless animals, homeless people and people with special needs/cancer.

During craft of the day, each girl was given a bottle that they would be putting two pieces of paper in.  One piece of paper had their name on it and ever other camper had to write down one nice thing about the person who's name was at the top.  My amicas even wanted me to write something about them!!!  And then on the other piece they were to draw a picture, write or do both about how they want to spread girl power in the future.  My HOPE is that they will not open these "message in a bottle" for some time, HOWEVER, if they have to, I told them to read the sheets of paper when they are feeling down or in a bad mood.  It will help them to feel better by reading what their friends had to say about them!  Then they had fun filing their bottles with all different color sand!

And lunch today was super fun....we made mini taco bowls and had tacos and then decorated cupcakes for dessert!  The taco bowls were a hit!

Just like my first session each girl got a collage of pictures of the week that we shared and a journal full of memories.  While they were busy having fun AND making a difference to 10 girls on the second day of camp by being themselves, I don't think they realize how big of an impact they will have on those 10 amicas from GP2C!  I know how those amicas are going to feel and I know they will have a smile on their face, because I see the same smile on my "special amica's" face that these 10 girls brought to her this summer!  

I am going to end with two quotes that we shared this week:

"The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt within the heart"---Helen Keller

"Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing"---Mother Theresa

Sunday, August 28, 2011

"Enjoy the little things.....

...for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things"

When I mentioned that I was starting my own camp, I have to be honest, I didn't think it would have had such an impact on me! First let me back up...when I initially decided to do the camp for my girls and only girls in our neighborhood, I decided on the name to be Camp Bella....bella being ONE of the ways you can say "friend" in Italian. Well, after the 100th person telling me that technically, "Amica" is the true word for friend in Italian, I changed the name. The new name and logo is below!

Leading up to my first week I was a little nervous and the only thing I was most nervous about was the fear of everyone having a bad time and I would have 16 eyeballs looking at me with a dumbfounded look! But after day one, I knew that was not the case! I was wiped out! Wow....we not only had fun, but packed a whole lot into one day! Our theme for the week was, "Go Green". Every day had a similar layout, where we started the day with a "morning chat" where we learned more about our friends, talked about the day, and explored our theme in greater detail. Then we broke out into two groups to work on the different tasks at hand. While one group was getting started on the "craft of the day" the other group were pondering the "question of the day" in their journals. Both groups were also enjoying a healthy snack to keep them going as their imaginations were in overdrive!

Of course they had free time every we both needed this time to run around and scream! However, my screaming was done on the inside, but it was screams of happiness, as I was having so much fun ( I know I am crazy...right!). But honestly, I was enjoying every minute with all 8 of these girls! My down time, was my prep time to get us ready for the next transition....lunch time!

Yes, that is right...they MADE their own lunch and dessert every day!!!! And do you know, this was one of the main highlights from my amicas!!! The girls made kebabs, dirt/sand cups, pizzas, ice cream sandwiches, peanut butter/soynut butter swirl sandwiches and ice cream sundaes! I had a kitchen full of mini Julia Childs'!!!

Timing is key when you are trying to plan out 3 1/2 hours of time for 8 girls. I thought that I had it pegged down to the minute on how fast things would get done, and just when I thought, "I did it", they were done! And I still had 20 minutes planned for this activity in my schedule! Now what....well....let me introduce you to one of the BEST ideas ever....Story Cubes! There are 9 dice in a little box and every side of each die has a picture on them. Well, you can play with one person or up to nine. All the amicas sat in a circle and I handed each of them a die. Then I gave them a topic and said that they had to create a story together. Each person rolled their die and then had to think of a sentence that had that picture in it AND it had to go along with the topic and make sense. The girls LOVED letting their imaginiations roll! And when they were finished, they would read it out loud to me and it was exciting to see how excited they were in creating something together.

As I mentioned every amica had a journal for the week. They had a "question of the day" that they had to answer on our topic for the week. Also in their journals they each signed each others book on the first day, I typed up the "story of the day" that they created with the story cubes, facts on our theme, fun facts about their amicas and then all the recipes we shared!

After the three days were over, my house sounded so quiet! I made a collage of pictures for each girl to remember our fun week and then took a walk around the neighborhood to deliver them one day. They loved them!

Going into Camp Amica I was nervous and ending the week I was overwhelmed by the responses! All my amicas couldn't wait for the next session! For me my goal was achieved; I wanted Katie to have a fun summer doing typical things with her typical peers from school. We achieved all three and more! I loved how they involved Anna Cate into everything, but more importantly I loved seeing her surrounded by friends and being one of them.

Camp Amica Session Two here we come!

(Camp Session one was held in July and a month later Session Two was held)