American Girl has a new commercial that I love. In just thirty seconds they make you proud to be a girl and want to go find your tribe, your team of girls. If you haven't seen it watch it right now.
I pledge my strength to the team
Of girls and girlhood everywhere
And to the brilliance and bravery for which we stand
I pledge my friendship to the tribe
To inside jokes, told in outside voices
And rallying cries told as whispers
I pledge my voice to millions
Of one in a million girls
One girlhood, indivisible, with infinite potential
This AG Pledge has me thinking about my girl gangs. I'm proud to be a part of them, to lead them, to love the people in them well.
Freshmen girls-- I took this crew to Castaway at the start of last summer. We've been in bible studies together for years, I taught most of them, and I cheer them on as they run, cheer and play volleyball. I love laughing with them, talking about friendships, watching them grow up and having adventures.
CILT Pack- For eight summers now I've been one of the CILT counselors at Camp Tecumseh. Living in the Longhouse with so many girls has been one of my favorite parts of every year. For me, being a counselor has always been about building friendships that last long after campers head back home. The squad of CILT girls continues to grow with each new Session and I love learning that my heart always has room to grow to love more people too. The CILT Pack over the years has included people like Ellie Pearl, Maeve Plukett, Lizzy Dale, Mary Brody, Ellyn Hessong, Kelly Wentland, Erin O'Awesome, Emily Dignan, Annie Fazzio, Maggie Shadid, Anna Firmani, Maggie Drake, Lucy Welch and dozens more. These girls mean more to me than they know.
Junior girls- I've known most of them since they were in 7th grade. I remember when things got real in their giant 8th grade bible study. We've been to camp together at Timberwolf Lake, Michindoh, Sharp Top and Castaway. My dream is that we'll go together to Castaway in Colorado this summer. They're right in the middle of the mess and beauty of High School-- on a daily basis it's the best of times and the worst of times. I love that at this point I know them well enough that they rarely surprise me anymore but they're also HS girls so you never know what's going to happen next. They're brilliant and funny and full of potential and driven and loyal and brave and they're like my little sisters and best friends all rolled together.
Camp Counselors- Since I was a kid, I looked up to camp counselors and wanted to be just like them. Then I became a counselor and suddenly these people were my best friends. In recent years, Ellyn, Arie and Smoon have become my very best friends and the people who always have my back. We've spent a collective 16 years as counselors in the Longhouse, traveled across the country to see each other and continue to talk on a daily basis. These three inspire and encourage me, make me laugh to the point of tears and will always be there for me.
Varsity FBC- When I started Friendship Bracelet Club in 2009 I'm sure most people thought I was crazy. I thought I was crazy. Then we drafted a Varsity team in 2014. That was just weird. But crazy and weird are two of the best things I think you can be in this world. At school, spending time with Friendship Bracelet Club girls for an hour on Thursdays is always one of the best parts of the week. We get to check in with each other, sing HSM too loud and work on the bracelets that we'll give to our friends at school. At Tecumseh friendship bracelets are knotted on porches at night, in bunks during rest hour and at picnic tables at the CAC. The bright strings are more precious than any other gift and if you're lucky, you're friendship bracelet tan lines are strong by the time week 9 ends. The Varsity FBC girls have become a huge part of my life knot after knot.
YL Leaders- These women are rock stars, my role models, the people I aspire to be like tomorrow and 10 years from now. When I led for Carmel YL I got to work with Jenna (Tyler) Perkins, Sarah B, Mary Ellen and Annie Houghton. Soon after I met Linda Nikcevich and Abby Miller, two more phenomenal women. Ricki, Claire and Hannah were all YL kids at the time but now they're leading in different ways too. I lead with Kathy for HSE now and I can't imagine doing it without her. These women live out their faith in big and small ways. They're some of the most humble, confident, kind, giving, passionate people I know. Their lives are about loving others and loving God. They make me and this world better. They're my kind of people.
Tonight I took the opportunity to bring one of my tribes together. We've got Varsity girls across the country, but we also have Varsity girls ranging from 8th grade to Seniors here in HSE. Tonight we gathered to make bracelets, to eat, to laugh, to eat some more, to dance and to talk. They're crazy and creative and wild and they can devour a pizza in ten seconds flat. I'm so thankful for each one of these girls. One girlhood, indivisible, with infinite potential.