Marcyline Bailey expects every young woman in the Girls of Summer program to introduce herself with confidence by the end of the month.
Bailey, the assistant director of the summer learning program, recently met the rising middle schoolers who are participating in the inaugural Girls of Summer camp at College of Coastal Georgia.
And while exchanging introductions during the first few days, Bailey noticed a pattern.
“Some of the girls, when I met them, I asked them for their names and they were very quiet. They just whispered their names,” she said. “And I said to them, by the time you graduate from this program, I want you to be able to say your name loud and proud.”
Confidence building, she said, is one of the key themes underlying the mission of Girls of Summer.
The camp, which started July 3, offers a four-week summer enrichment program focusing on supplemental instruction in math, language arts and reading to rising sixth and seventh graders from Glynn and McIntosh counties.
“We have our certified public school teachers from the Glynn County school system that are providing our instruction,” said Floyd Phoenix, the program’s director.
The program replicates the structure of the annual Boys of Summer camp, which has been held for 24 years and wrapped up last month at CCGA. Both programs aim to both provide students with a head start on the curriculum they’ll be learning this school year and to teach young men and women life skills that will lead to future success.
“What we found out early on with the Boys of Summer program is that middle school is a transition for them,” Phoenix said. “In middle school, if you don’t have the academic skills that you need, you’re not going to be successful in ninth and tenth grade. And ninth and tenth grade is when you have your dropouts.”
Girls of Summer will bring in speakers throughout the month, including Valerie Wardlaw, a clinical psychologist and Brunswick native who authored the book “For Girls Who Choose To Believe #IMatter.”
“That’s a book that we’re going to be reading here in the program,” Bailey said. “And the book is designed to help girls speak kindly to themselves, about themselves.”
Other speakers will include women who serve as police officers in the Brunswick Police Department, the regional director of Paisley Magazine and a couple of local educators.
“We’re excited about the ladies who are coming to share with the girls,” Bailey said. “Every speaker we have has been asked to not only talk about their journey along the way, but they’ve been asked to do a hands-on activity.”
The program is geared to helping the young women build their confidence, have good manners and maintain a positive self-esteem, Bailey said.
“When I became a parent, it was important for me for my daughters to be able to say what they needed to say in a respectful manner,” she said. “I wanted them to express themselves and I wanted them to be able to talk to anybody in any situation about anything. And that in itself is a challenge … especially for women.”
The program ends with a graduation ceremony, at which the girls will wear the full cap-and-gown attire.
“We look at it as we are celebrating our accomplishments,” Bailey said. “And the girls who go through this program will have accomplished a great deal.”