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Olivet College recently hosted the second annual ATHENA International Middle School and High School Girls’ Leadership Camps, welcoming nearly 40 girls to campus to develop their leadership potential.

The transformative three-day camps built upon girls’ unique attributes by focusing on developing confidence and communication and networking skills. Girls left the camp inspired to advocate for themselves and others, find their courage to lead, learn how to express themselves to lead positive change, build other girls up, and discover their true authentic selves.

“The Olivet College ATHENA International Girls’ Leadership Camps are essential events to create a future of strong women leaders,” explained Traci Corey, Olivet College Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI) director and presidential spouse. “Young women need to learn self-awareness, and what we witnessed at the camp affirmed that Olivet College is doing the right thing in providing leadership development tools to this population. Girls need to know it is okay to project their true selves and have the knowledge, confidence and voice to do that.”

Camp participants had the chance to learn from the acclaimed ATHENA Leadership model, developed by ATHENA International and used around the world. ATHENA International is a well-recognized successful non-profit organization founded in Lansing, Michigan, that seeks to support, develop and honor women leaders through programs that are administered in partnership with host organizations.

The eight core principles of the model are:

  • Live Authentically: Leaders know their values and remain true to them.
  • Learn Constantly: Leaders seek knowledge.
  • Build Relationships: Leaders engage, empower and trust.
  • Foster Collaboration: Leaders welcome others to the work of leadership.
  • Advocate Fiercely: Leaders champion what they believe is right.
  • Act Courageously: Leaders dare.
  • Give Back: Leaders serve.
  • Celebrate: Leaders remember and rejoice.

In addition, the camps also covered topics on life lessons in mental health, inclusion and diversity, networking and the college admissions process. Sessions were paired with team activities, like making perfume and the magic carpet maze, and fun activities such as swimming, games, and arts and crafts.

Each camp participant was able to share feedback and more about the ATHENA principles that resonated with them most. 94.59% of girls said the principles helped them gain more knowledge about their leadership capabilities, and 91.88% said they gained leadership strategies and skills from this camp. In addition, participants said they felt more confident to take on leadership roles, gained more self-care strategies to maintain healthy mental wellness, learned about diversity and inclusion, and felt more prepared for the college admissions process.

Girls also spoke of their newfound leadership confidence:

  • “I discovered that even though I am an introvert, I can lead with confidence.”
  • “I learned to be more vocal and advocate for others who cannot.”
  • “I discovered how to lead with confidence during this camp. It will help me live up to my full potential as a leader.”
  • “I learned to speak up and not to be afraid to think and say my own thoughts.”

“It was an amazing experience to see these young women develop more confidence in themselves over the three-day camps,” said Jamilia Johnson, WLI coordinator and recruiter. “The campers created a network of women supporting women while they shared their personal stories and life experiences. Many of the campers even realized they already possessed leadership potential from just being their unique, authentic selves.”

Learn more about the Olivet College Women’s Leadership Institute by contacting Jamilia Johnson at jamjohnson@olivetcollege.edu or 269-749-7667.

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