For one week every summer, I direct Jr. High Girls Camp. But what about the other 51 weeks of the year? This is my place to discuss issues that teenage girls have, as well as keep all women up to date on what it means to be a teenage girl in today's world. As with all my discussions, I am always open to alternate opinions. Feel 100% free to disagree with me! The blog posts here completely represent my own personal opinion.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Camp Be-You-tiful | Petitioning for a Name Change

Earlier this year, I submitted a document to the GPNW Mission Center Youth Camping Team, asking them to consider a name change for the camp that I direct. Here is a part of that document:
It has been my amazing privilege to direct the Lewis River Jr High Girls Camp for 9 years, and I cannot imagine ever not doing it. This is the core of my summer, and of my ministry. Forever and always, these are my girls.
Except I cannot say that anymore. [2017] was our first camp with a transgendered camper (born female, living as male). It was easy for us because this camper attended last year as female, and he was comfortable enough with us and the camp process to return as a male. I was so in awe of how my staff worked to say non-gendered, inclusive words, and proud of my other campers for accepting without prejudice.
As our church embraces God’s call to honor the Worth of All Persons, and recognize the sacredness of God’s beautiful creation, the mission center must create guidelines for camps to include transgendered campers and staff in ways that are equal and fair and loving. 
I am convinced – now more than ever – that the Community of Christ is ready to be the spiritual home for the truly vulnerable, to love and accept all of God’s children just as they were created to be. And our camping program has to be ready to love and accept those children of God. When the day comes that I have a teenager come to me who was born male but is living their authentic life as a female, and asks me if she can come to camp, I don’t want to have any hesitation. We cannot be reactionary, or we will lose those first brave few. We must be proactive in creating rules and guidelines for my staff that allow me to confidently tell her or him, “Yes, of course! There is a place for you at my camp!”
I also can no longer direct a camp called ‘Lewis River Jr High Girls Camp.’ We’re not one anymore. I’ve wanted to change the name for years, but kept waffling on what would be appropriate. My camp needs a name that reflects that we are open, ready to accept all whether they were born female, choose to live female, or prefer non-binary. Now I know decidedly:
I am officially petitioning the Youth Camping Team to re-name the Lewis River Jr High Girls Camp to ‘Camp Be-You-tiful’.
There was more in my letter to the team, but it has not all been addressed as of yet. Moving forward, my team will be working towards always using inclusive language, getting used to the process of self-identifying pronoun preferences, and being gracious to ourselves and one another as we learn and grow together.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Separate but Equal?

Mesa Prep won the Arizona state baseball title for the year, because Our Lady of Sorrows forfeited. They didn't want to play a girl.

Our Lady of Sorrows is not a Catholic school. They are run by the Society of St. Pius X, which is an offshoot group who broke off in the 1970's, believing that the Catholic church was not strict enough. One of their basic tenets is that men and women are separate. They are taught separately, and do activities separately.

Mesa Prep's baseball team is mostly boys, but with one girl at second base. When the schools have played in the past, the one female player did sit out. But this was the championship game, and she refused to merely sit out. So Our Lady of Sorrows forfeited. Mesa Prep "won."

She considers herself a serious athlete, and I completely respect her decision. She should, of course, be allowed to play. If this was wrestling, I would understand the boys' discomfort and playing against a woman. Where do you put your hands? I can see it being awkward if you're not used to it. But baseball? What's going to happen? She catches the ball? She throws the ball? She hits the ball?

I applaud this girl for playing with the boys. And I applaud her for standing her ground. I'm sure that wasn't an easy decision. But the bigger question that is always raised by these stories is: can the genders be separated, and still considered equal? My gut reaction is always no. But it seems that no one today even wants to have this discussion. We refuse to see it when it happens right in front of our faces all the time. I'm not sure where to go with this next. Anyone else have a thought?

I want to again stress that the other team was not Catholic. It's an offshoot group with much stricter rules.

Read the full article here.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Child Brides

There was a disturbing case of a young child bride in Afghanistan who was severely abused by her husband's family. They were put in jail.

When this happens, everyone puts their binoculars on the countries that have always practiced this way, and still do. Like India. Click here to see pictures.

But what about our own country?

When we talk about sex slavery, child brides, and human trafficking, it is so easy to demonize those other people, half-way across the world. Meanwhile, we ignore the problem that is happening right next door. LITERALLY NEXT DOOR! Portland, Oregon is the center of US sex trafficking. Hundreds of thousands of American children are forced into prostitution every year. And do not romanticize this: they do NOT choose to be prostitutes.

While the story of the child bride in Afghanistan is awful and heart breaking, do not let that turn into an "us vs them" mentality. We are no better. American girls are in as much danger as Afghan girls, as Indian girls, as Thai girls - BE CAREFUL! Protect yourself. You are loved. You are worthy of real love.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Unsung Heroes- the untold story of Female Explorers

I was intrigued by the Yahoo article about the 8 Unsung Woman Explorers. The author acknowledges that everyone has heard of Amelia Earhart, but you probably haven't heard of these other pioneering women. And guess what? I hadn't. Have you?

I would encourage you all to check out who these women were. And if one sounds intriguing to you (like the woman who climbed mountains - pregnant!), please look them up! Find out who they were! These are your elders, who came before you.

Read the full Yahoo Article here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Unwanted" Girls

At camp this year, we learned about the people of India, their culture, and their religion. I think we had great discussions, learning together about these people on the other side of the world.

I wanted to make sure that you heard about an amazing news story from India. There were many girls who had been given the names "Nakusa" or "Nakushi" as a baby, which are words that mean "unwanted." There was something about these baby girls that made their family say, "We don't want you. And we don't want you soooo much, that we are going to tell the whole world that by naming you Unwanted." For most of them, it was just the fact that they were born a girl, not a boy.

What would it be like to grow up with the name "Unwanted"? Every time your mother calls you to set the table, or your brother asks you to play a game, or your father wakes you up in the morning - every time someone says your name, they remind you that you are not enough. Your name means that you are a burden to your family. You are not wanted in your own family.

As a mother, as a camp counselor, as a camp director, and as a human being, this breaks my heart. What I have always wanted for my girls (which is every single girl that I have ever counseled or directed in a camp) is that they know there is someone else on this earth that cares for them. My prayer is always for peace and safety for my girls. No matter what else happens in your life, there are people who love you. You are loved. You are a child of God. You are special! You are wanted!

Last month, a district in India held a mass ceremony where 285 girls were able to choose their own name. Some chose names with happy meanings, some chose strong names, and others chose names of Bollywood stars. They will have the memories of their childhood forever, but now they have the chance to take back their lives and find an inner purpose for themselves.

You are smart. You are strong. You are beautiful.

The entire article can be found here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Best Halloween Costume

Halloween was yesterday. I had such a fun time dressing up and going trick-or-treating with my daughter! But what I saw when I was shopping, and what I saw when I was trick-or-treating, was kind of terrifying... super-sexy, short or mini skirts. And it's freakin' cold, because we're in the Pacific Northwest! Who does that?!? Oh, the 10-35 year olds.
There is never a need for a young woman to dress that way, at any age. When I was 12, dressing in those clothes meant that you were dressing as a hooker for halloween. Now, the Princess costume is too short, the Little Red Riding Hood costume shows cleavage, and the french maid... the French Maid has been an symbol of exotic sex for old white men for so long. I do not understand why a woman would ever want to wear it, let alone a teenage girl.
What is the best outfit you could ever wear? You! You are smart, strong, and beautiful. You do not need a short skirt or a low-cut shirt. You do not need to put yourself on display. You can be fun, crazy, kooky and cute - without being provacative.
This is a link to an blog written by a teenage girl, and her experience shopping for a Halloween costume (with her mom!):

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Grief: The Other Youth Camp

The last day of Jr. High Girls camp - while we were cleaning and packing, hugging and laughing - 600 youth were gathered for their own youth camp in Norway. An attack had been made on the capital city, so when a police officer arrived at the camp, everyone gathered around to check in and find out what was happening. But that man was not a police officer. He was an evil man in a suit, pretending to be safe. He pulled out guns and ammunition, and fired on the camp. 68 people were killed.
When I came home and heard the stories, I was devastated. What about my girls? Are they safe in this world? I always think that camp is safer than home; camp is where our youth go to feel protected in God's arms and spend a week (or longer) in the presence of the all-loving God. But these kids were at camp. Did their parents think they were sending them to a safe place? Of course. Those are 60+ devastated families who thought their children were safe at camp. I always feel safer at camp.
So what do we do when presented with this horror? I wasn't sure at first. I didn't know how to feel: relieved that it wasn't my camp; afraid; angry; upset; sadness for the families; happy to be in my own home; confused; frustrated because I can't do anything. What I've decided is that I need to pray. I'm praying for peace for the families, and peace for the world, and peace for the troubled spirit that caused all this destruction. Please join me in my prayer for peace!