Last summer, Alyda Hirsh would often come home from camp and gush to her mother, Danielle Hirsh, about the day’s adventure; whether it was a trip to the National Film Board, learning how to ride a unicycle, or practicing archery (particularly exciting for the 12-year-old given the popularity of The Hunger Games and its main protagonist Katniss, a skilled archer). Alyda said she loved the field trips, the connection she shared with her counsellors, and the time spent outside with friends.
Alyda spent two summers attending the YWCA’s Camp Summer Space, which caters to girls 10 to 13 and focuses on building self-esteem, leadership skills, and camaraderie through workshops and activities.
Hirsh recalls that a week after camp had ended, her daughter turned to her in the car and nonchalantly asked, “Mom, what does it take to become the prime minister?” That moment solidified for Hirsh how empowered, determined and strong her daughter had become.
The camp aims to provide an environment for pre-teen girls to explore and discuss their identities and values while building friendships. Workshops focus on countering violence, early sexualization and promoting healthy life habits and attitudes, all while offering campers physical activities, such as dance, circus, theatre, music, yoga, kickboxing and more.
“As a parent, the thing I like the most is that it’s run by the leadership division of the YWCA,” Hirsh says. “It’s all about self-esteem, strength and showing girls that there are no limits to what they can accomplish. Ten to 13 are such critical, scary years, and self-confidence is so important during that transition from elementary to high school.”
Hirsh also appreciates the fact that counsellors aren’t teenagers looking for a summer job, but skilled individuals, many of whom have university degrees in either social work or womens’ studies.
The camp is bilingual and offers two sessions, from July 6 to 24 and Aug. 3 to 21.
It costs $300 per session and is located in the Segal Centre on Cote Ste. Catherine Rd. Low-income families can apply for financial assistance.
For more information, call 514-866-9941 or visit ydesfemmesmtl.org