St. Margaret's School in Saanich recently hosted a special one-week summer camp, called SELF.I.E. Camp, which stands for self-inspiration and empowerment.
Aysha Emmerson, who enters Grade 12 in the fall, created the camp to help preteen girls gain confidence as they enter their teenage years.
"I found middle school pretty challenging," says Aysha. "And I felt personally compelled to be able to share some of what I've learned since middle school with girls that are about to embark on their middle school years.
I had a lot of trouble accepting who I was. I think I had a really good strong of myself, but I felt sometimes like I had to change who I was in order to fit in."
The camp gives 15 girls a chance to experience everything from mindful yoga and safe social media to mask making to explore identity and splatter painting to combat perfectionism.
Aysha says that when she was designing the curriculum, she asked herself "what would I want to know as a 10-year old?"
She came up with five inspiring, empowering themes: self-care, self-acceptance, self-expression, self-defense, and selflessness.
Mary Lue Emmerson, foundation years principal at St Margaret's School, says the themes of the camp fit well with the philosophy of the school.
"One of the things I like about this camp is that we are using our older students as the leaders in this camp," says Mary Lue.
"They are learning their own, and developing their own leadership skills, while also mentoring younger girls, and that just aligns so well with what we do every day at our school."
Camp Counsellor Eve Taylor adds that the camp is about combating the fears of the girls, or imperfections, and the pressures of home life and school, and the peers around them.
Aysha says hosting this camp is a dream come true.
“I've wanted to do something like this for so long,” Aysha said.
"What I've been telling the girls all week is 'they are the only one on this earth who is like them, and that is an amazing wonderful thing, and that they need to embrace that, and share that light inside them with the rest of the world.'"