Friday, March 10, 2006

More Shameless Requests for Money

You'll get used to these things coming from me every once in a while. The good news is that there's tons of things going on over here in PC Bulgaria, but these things need money. You'll see below a brief summary of the wonder that is Camp "GLOW" (Girls Leading Our World). Please go to and consider making a donation.

Camp GLOW Bulgaria
"Perfect week for a girl."
-GLOW Camper

The incredible week-long experience for young women around the world, known as Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World), began in Romania in 1995. Due to the success of the first camp, and the worldwide need for programs that support the specific educational and emotional needs of young women, the camp has continued to grow and develop. Through the efforts of Peace Corps Volunteers and their communities, Camp GLOW has expanded everywhere from Uzbekistan to Namibia, and also to Bulgaria, where the first Camp GLOW was held in 2000.

This year 70 young women will participate in Camp GLOW Bulgaria. The activities at Camp GLOW are aimed at fostering self-esteem; developing leadership, teamwork, communication, decision-making, and goal-setting skills; encouraging civic responsibility and volunteerism; nurturing tolerance and promoting appreciation of culture and diversity; and expanding knowledge of current issues facing young Bulgarian women, such as HIV prevention and eating disorders. Camp GLOW is conducted in English and includes:

• Morning outside meetings, led by counselors and junior counselors.
• Daily games, such as the “Tower of Straw” team-building and problem solving activity.
• Medium-sized workshops, where a team of one counselor and one junior counselor work with a group of 10 campers to provide information about topics such as Human Rights. The same three workshops are offered during morning sessions and afternoon sessions—campers choose which workshops they want to attend.
• Small discussion groups, where a team of one counselor and one junior counselor meet with five campers to debrief various topics related to the larger workshops held that day. For the entire camp, the same counselor and junior counselor are assigned to a specific group of five campers, in order to facilitate bonding and to establish a comfortable discussion setting.
• Guest speakers who lecture about particularly relevant topics in Bulgaria, such as Bulgarian Women in Business; the trafficking of women and children in Eastern European countries; and the culture, history, and present situation of Roma women in Bulgaria.
• Afternoon activities, such as meditation, yoga, Tae Bo, self-defense, or ultimate Frisbee.
• Themed nighttime activities, such as a Hawaiian Luau, Talent Show, Cultural Gallery Walk, Bonfire Night, or Pajama Party.
• An environmental awareness activity, such as hiking on an eco-trail and visiting a monastery in the mountains.
• A community service day, such as visiting a retirement home, bringing flowers and talking one-on-one with local residents.

Each year, young women ages 14 to 18 throughout Bulgaria apply to Camp GLOW. This year, Camp GLOW anticipates receiving 250 applications for 50 camper spots. The applicants send in an application form, reference letters, as well an essay on a topic such as, “What does the Camp GLOW motto, ‘Be a woman, be yourself,’ mean to you?” All counselors and junior counselors have participated as campers or junior counselors in the previous year’s Camp GLOW, and have been selected to be counselors based on having proved themselves outstanding, amongst a group of already outstanding young women. Prior to camper arrival, these 20 counselors undergo an intensive three-day training session on peer counseling, mediation, communication, and workshop facilitation. Their role is not only to assist with camp logistics, lead medium-sized workshops and small group discussions, but also to provide encouragement and support to all campers during Camp GLOW. They act as inspirational role-models, and are the tireless life, energy, and spirit of GLOW for the entire week.

This is the third year that Camp GLOW will be help in Bulgaria’s former capital, Veliko Turnovo. Every year, Peace Corps Volunteers continue to transfer skills to the GLOW NGO and its parent NGO, the Open Door Resource Center. Through Camp GLOW’s partnership with Open Door Resource Center, GLOW has been able to grow and expand in a way that was not possible in the previous years. This year Camp GLOW is again co-directed by a Peace Corps Volunteer and the director of the GLOW NGO. Peace Corps Volunteers and the Open Door Resource Center work throughout the year to make Camp GLOW happen--organizing all camp logistics, and most importantly, by fundraising through community grassroots activities and the assistance of Camp GLOW supporters in America.

GLOW Girls’ Voices:

"I am an ordinary girl from Bulgaria, but that doesn’t mean that girls from Bulgaria just go to school and learn their lessons. Every girl in Bulgaria is at least a little ambitious and has goals for her future. So, in fact, ordinary in this sentence means ambitious! We are trying to be the best in everything and to show that even a girl from a small country like Bulgaria has something to give to the world. It is very important for us to be leaders. But, in Bulgaria, if young women don’t work to make ourselves leaders, no one will help us. Fortunately, a couple of years ago, some nice people decided to organize Camp GLOW and they saw what talented young women we are! Since 2000, the camp has been organized every year. I was lucky enough to have been chosen to participate in last year’s camp in Veliko Turnovo. Camp GLOW was a great experience for me. I recently went back and read my journal entries from camp and they brought me such nice memories. I remember wanting the feeling that GLOW gave me to last as long as possible. I met so many girls during camp, each special and different in her own way. All of them ambitious and born leaders! Many of us became friends, and even though we live in different parts of Bulgaria, we keep in touch.
“When I look back on my experience at GLOW, I realize how helpful it has been to me. Not only did I have fun, but the entertainment was combined with helpful talks, and exercises that taught me to be myself no matter what is going on. GLOW taught me to be more self confidant, to have higher self-esteem, and to be more open to other people and to the world. GLOW opened my eyes to the real world."
-GLOW Camper
“As a very emotional person, I could say that every single detail impressed me a lot at Camp GLOW--from the genius way that all the sessions and events proceeded, to the magnificent behavior of all the wonderful girls. From the entire experience I’ve achieved the most awesome friends I have found. I think more camps like GLOW are needed, because everybody has the right to experience the most exciting, and at the same time the most beneficial week, of her life. Only those who have tasted the magic of a camp like this could say what the sentiment is! Since Camp GLOW 2005 I have become better-organized. I make my decisions much easier than before, I am a more self-confident leader, which is very important and useful for my post as a club President.”

-Mirella Karadjova, GLOW 2005 Camper
“Recently, I read Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie, in which the dying college professor and mentor of Mitch – Morrie-- was giving Mitch his last lecture about life. In the book, Morrie said that emotions are just like shirts- you should put them on, experience them and then-- let them go. But what about your favorite shirt- the one with the stains and the holes that you love so much! CAMP GLOW IS MY FAVORITE SHIRT. No matter how many years pass I can’t give the camp up. Why?
Because the camp made you more open-minded and tolerant.
Because you improved your team-working and leadership skills.
Because you learned how to face challenges and overcome difficulties.
Because you learned more about the others and about yourself…
Because you learned how to dance Hula and had fun with Tae-Bo
Because the only time when you cried was when you got your friendship bracelet, and when you had to say goodbye to friends.
Because the magic of Glow is in YOU!”
-Elena Genova, GLOW 2005 Junior Counselor
“Before I went to Camp GLOW, I didn't have any idea that it could be so meaningful to me. I am kind of a shy person, but GLOW changed me in a way I like. I learned from GLOW that I am a very meaningful person. But what is more important is that I learned every person is meaningful.”

-Hristina Veleva, GLOW 2005 Camper

"[GLOW is a] breathtaking, unforgettable experience that gives young women the chance to learn more about themselves.”

–GLOW Camper

"I think that this week at Camp GLOW has been a turning point in my life, and that the friendships and memories will stay forever in my heart. Thank you for giving me that chance."

– GLOW Camper

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