There was no traffic rumbling. No screaming sirens. No lawn mowers humming. No birds chirping their sweet melodies. I was surprised by the nothingness of it all. The only sound was the dirt crunching beneath my feet. The only feeling was the waves of hunger churning in my stomach. And it was me with my thoughts, hour after hour.
It was October 2016 and I was hiking 100 km in subzero temperatures across the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. The landscape was a bleak tundra of vast openness with scattered animal scat, broken beer bottles, animal skeletons, and piles of empty plastic water bottles left behind by other hikers. It was like walking on a littered version of the moon (or what I would imagine it to be since I’ve never been to the moon…).
It was in this gaping nothingness that I broke down and built myself up. I managed to silence my voice of doubt (who am I to hike across a desert?), quiet the feeling of living without the comforts of home and transform the inner turmoil that I felt as I walked (life had dealt some difficult cards to me over the years) into a quiet power of placing one foot in front of the other.
In my journal, I wrote, “I can have any life I want. Chasing the dream to hike across the Gobi Desert is no different than chasing any other dream. If you want to change something about your life, change it! Challenges like these are all mental, take it one step at a time.” I was igniting my inner power.
For as long as I can remember, I have had a dream of starting a summer camp—specifically, Empower Camp —which would exist to empower young women. I wanted to share the magic I encountered at camp as a young woman. I attended my first summer camp when I was 12 years old and immediately fell in love with the lifestyle: hiking, singing songs, camp fires, and feeling like a “cool” kid for the first time in my life. At camp, it was “cool” to be yourself. The best part was the people I met, many of whom are still some of my most cherished friends today. Camp does something to people. It builds relationships that slice into the inner cores of who they are and connections are made on a very personal level. Within days, life stories are swapped and belly aching laughter ensues. Camp relationships are so powerful. Even though you spend only a limited amount of time with one another, the bonds last a lifetime.
The Gobi Desert hike was a bit like summer camp. I was thrown into a new environment and made new lifelong friends, but the trek was also the catalyst that pushed me to make Empower Camp a reality. Sitting on a sand dune in the desert watching the Mongolian sunset, I made a promise to myself that when I got home, I would start making Empower Camp a reality. It was time.
I am proud to say that since coming home from the desert three years ago, I founded Empower Camp, assembled a team of incredible volunteers and have provided women—both teens and volunteer adults alike—the opportunity to ignite their inner power.
“Empower Camp was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Everyone was very energetic and inclusive and I found myself making new friends almost immediately.” 2018 Empower Camper
Empower Camp is a multi-day camp adventure designed to ignite the inner power of young women between the ages of 13 and 18. We provide traditional camp experiences coupled with custom-built activities designed for campers to discover their true selves. Our environment allows campers to step away from digital distractions and life pressures to gain confidence, a network of support, and ultimately to ignite their inner power.
Our vision is a world where young women radiate strength, have the courage to speak up, and are empowered to create the life of their dreams. There is nothing more inspiring than a woman being unapologetically herself and harnessing the power in her soul to make an impact in the world. The message of Empower Camp has been strongly received in Western New York and we quickly filled up all spots for our inaugural camp last summer.
“One thing I’ve always struggled with is self-confidence… that I’m smart, I’m beautiful, I’m worthy, I’m important, I’m strong, I’m enough. I never believed any of this until I went to Empower Camp last summer.” 2018 Empower Camper
Our inaugural camp was held at Camp Duffield in Delevan, New York and the camp launched with an eruption of energy and success. To tell you about all of the magic that was packed into our first camp would far exceed my word limit on this post. The power of camp is long-lasting as our camp aims to create a life-impacting experience.
Your dreams can become a reality. Do you believe that? Because once you do, there are no limits to what you can achieve. How will you go forth and ignite your inner power today?