March Blog: Celebrating Women’s History Month
What have the strong female role models of Camp Wekeela taught or meant to you?
We ask every staff member we hire, both on our staff application and in our interviews this question: What makes you a good role model? Some individuals are perplexed by this question and some answer it confidently. It is not an easy question to answer. We all want to believe we are a good role model. We want people to look up to us. We especially like to ask this question to female staff as it puts an awareness on the importance of young girls having strong female role models. Wekeela is very proud to have a community where we encourage our female staff and campers to be their authentic selves and stand up for what they believe in – to teach them they can do anything. March is Women’s History Month, and we invite you to join us this month and beyond, as we amplify the voices and stories of women of the past and present who have worked to inspire us. Of course, Wekeela is a co-ed camp catering to both boys & girls. Wekeela has worked very hard to make an inclusive environment for campers of all races, genders, and sexualities. You may have read about or experienced our philosophy to make sure everyone feels welcomed at Wekeela – and our commitment to hire female staff that are strong role models to all of our campers is an important part of who we are. As we celebrate and appreciate the women of Wekeela over the years, please know that you can make a difference in the lives of children by simply being yourself and standing up for what you believe in.
Camp Wekeela’s history is rooted in strong female roles. You may not know, but Camp Wekeela was founded in 1922 by Ms. Emma Grauman – who started Camp We You Wega on the shores of Little Bear Pond as a girl’s camp. Grauman’s pioneering creation of a camp during this time was rare – a strong business woman setting up a place for girls to grow, learn, and have fun in the woods of Maine. After Grauman’s death, her assistant director Bess Benas renamed We You Wega to Silver Birches, continuing the tradition of camping for girls. Wekeela became a boys camp in the 1940s as ownership changed to the Weene family who had 2 sons. Wekeela eventually became a co-ed camp under Claire and Dusty Drew in the 1970s. Under the leadership of Lori & Ephram Caflun, Wekeela has become one of the premiere summer camps in the state of Maine – and the country – but one where all campers feel included – replacing the Boys & Girls label to Camp Wekeela for Everyone in 2020.
What is the importance of female leadership?
One thing that is important to Wekeela is the ability for our campers to have as many role models as possible. We want our staff to give back to the campers and inspire them to be their best selves. Having female leadership is an important part of this story. The characteristics of leadership and role models differ of course, but Wekeela is proud to hire female staff who teach all activities. There is also no male-or-female-dominated activity at Wekeela. It’s incredibly important to us to hire all staff to teach their passions. For example, in one interview with a 2021 staff member this year, when answering the question: What is it like for you to be a strong female role model? The response was:
“I believe I am a strong female role model because there is so much talk about what a girl should be – but you have to follow your values and your passions and I feel like I do that for young girls when teaching them sports that I love.” This staff member was hired.
Wekeela also values hiring female staff for leadership positions. Every girl’s age group has at least one female Cabin Leader. For summer 2021 our females in leadership positions include: Director Lori Caflun, Head Counselor Jenna, Our Parent Liaisons Debbie and Meredith, Office Manager Gretchen, Performing Arts Department Head Laura, Junior Counselor Coordinator Alyssa, Leadership in Training Coordinator Ilana, Culinary Arts Department Head Emilee, Creative Arts Co-Department Head Anna, Waterski Department Head Valerie, Transportation Coordinator Nicole, Camp Photographer Hayley; Tennis Assistant Department Head Joanna, and our Head Chef Renee. The strong and impactful leadership these amazing women bring to the Wekeela family and community stretches far and wide to our campers and staff. We are so lucky to have incredible women at Wekeela!
We asked our camp community this question in celebration of Women’s History Month: “What have the strong female role models of Camp Wekeela taught you?”. The responses were inspiring and remarkable. You can see them below:
How to respect myself and stand up for myself.
There is always someone who has your back.
To love myself and be confident in who I am.
They taught me to continue to be myself.
To be myself and stand up for what I believe in, to always have a voice in the crowd.
To be confident, kind, and the best person I can be.
To stand up for myself and my campers.
To stand up for what I believe in.
How to take risks and face my greatest fears.
They have taught me to be myself and do what I love.
It’s important every day to teach the young girls and women of the world to use their voice and to stand up for themselves and what they believe in. Our female staff and leaders at Wekeela make this mission possible, and we are so grateful for them.
Happy Women’s History Month!