Each summer the Leadership Team chooses a theme for the season. We aim for a message that will help campers and staff grow, think and take away a lesson from a season considering that year’s theme. A t-shirt is designed and every member of the community gets one. During the summer, as different Longhouses are in charge of our Sunday Circle, campers and staff reflect on the theme. They choose songs that connect with the theme, read poetry or other writings, and some choose to write a personal reflection on how the theme affects them.
In the past we have sometimes used quotes from famous people and other times we have created our own phrase. This year we chose the latter based on “Shine Theory.” Our theme was: When you shine, I shine, Songa girls lift each other up. Lolo Cappio designed our t-shirt and Jenn Hare introduced our theme at the first Sunday Circle each month with the description included here. Using an original melody, Abby Vorenberg led a group of staff who wrote a song about our theme. And, throughout the season we heard reflections from girls during Sunday Circle. Enjoy this peek inside Sunday Circle this summer. Below you’ll find Jenn’s introduction and a reflection by Meredith Blanchard
Shine Theory for Songadeewin from Jenn Hare ’99
Shine Theory was created by two best friends named Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow. Ann is a writer and wrote about their idea to spread it to the world – which is how we on the Leadership Team found out about it. We loved this idea of women and girls supporting each other and benefiting from each other’s success.
Ann grew up in the U.S. and Amina grew up in Nigeria, Belgium and France. They met as adults and became best friends. They both worked in jobs that have traditionally been dominated by men – journalism, business and technology. They shared similar feelings from their childhoods into adulthood that many of you have probably experienced as well. It’s the feeling that as a girl you are in competition with the other girls in the room. Sometimes I feel jealous or mad if another girl does something better than me. Ann and Amina recognized that so many girls and women feel that way, but it’s not because we’re bad people – we just live in a world where girls and women continue to not have as many opportunities as men and boys. That helps create the feeling that we need to fight other girls to get what few opportunities there are.
Ann and Amina want to encourage girls and women to reject the idea that they have to compete. In fact, they argue, we all benefit more when we lift each other up instead of tearing each other down. Ann says it like this – “I want the smartest, happiest, strongest women in my corner…because true confidence is infectious.” Other girls’ success around you means that you are in the company of amazing humans, who can inspire you, support you, teach you and be role models for you. Your life is made better by being around them. If you support them in turn and help them shine, you shine too. If every girl was shining on other girls and encouraging them to take risks and be bold, imagine the world of strong, supported women we would live in.
You can find out more about Shine Theory by reading Ann Friedman’s work on the website “The Cut” or by listening to Ann and Amina’s podcast, “Call Your Girlfriend.”
Reflection by Meredith Blanchard ’12
Over the course of this summer, four other girls and I have worked on our experts in canoeing. It’s a big and kind of scary commitment to make, especially because canoeing is such a revered, important part of what we do here at Songa. With the significance of what we are trying to accomplish looming over us, I began to feel like canoeing became a competition of sorts. The idea of “I have to go to canoeing today so I don’t fall behind” became the norm instead of “I want to go to canoeing today because I love it.” There was tension at every activity period, a frantic scramble to do a better dock landing, dead water stop, or thrust than our friends. This despite what we actually should have been seeking, which was to improve on our own canoeing abilities.
As the end of the summer drew closer, I realized that as my friends improved, so did I. They motivated me to practice, and we all share little pieces of advice that we gathered as we learned and improved. I started thinking about it less as a solo competition and more of a team activity-when I am surrounded by four amazingly talented canoeists, it is impossible NOT to get better. I found that being able to relate to them with tales of success and failure, frustration and triumph, helped us all feel better about ourselves.
I’m lucky to have gotten the opportunity to watch four of my best friends improve themselves and in turn help me improve this summer. I can’t wait for all of the dock landings, and long paddles to come. We have lifted each other up and we all will be shining at the final course.