I went to Tonga during my school break, and it was also the school break for Tonga. They were planning Camp GLOW for that time. GLOW stands for Girls Leading Our World. It was taking place on two of the island groups, Tongatapu and Vava’u. Since I arrived in Tonga without any real plans, I decided I would help out.
The first few days I was in Tonga I helped with some preparation work for the camp. I went shopping with the girls, and helped get some of the materials prepared. I learned how much work actually went into planning this. There is one person that is the reason everything was going smoothly, Sandy.
I met Sandy in Los Angeles during staging. She had just finished two years as a volunteer in Benin, and was going to Tonga to be the coordinator for GLOW and get the program started. She had done 8 camps in Africa, and was starting her second and third in the Pacific Region. Sandy is an extremely hard working individual. It was amazing to see how much heart she put into the program.
Camp GLOW was a six day camp for girls aged 12-14, at least that was the age of the girls in Vava’u. I was invited to help out with the camp, and jumped at the opportunity. The girls worked on leadership skills, community service, and where to go for help with anything.
They had sessions with different speakers from organizations all over the Kingdom of Tonga. They talked about their future and how to reach their goals. They talked about what made them successful in school, and what kind of person can become a leader. The girls had fun playing games, doing different silly ice breakers, and tie dying lavalavas and shirts for their camp clothes.
The girls were in four different groups and I spent the most time with “The Smiling Ladies”. The seven girls were so much fun and full of energy. It was easy to tell from the start that they truly are leaders. We made up songs and dances. We did trust games, made pyramids and just had fun. I taught the girls about Samoa, and taught them Samoan, while they helped me with my Tongan. I also taught them some American Sign Language.
At the end of the week, the girls decided to make a club to help each other reach their goals. Their first meeting will be the following Monday, where they learned about self defense. They had a candle ceremony, and a celebratory lunch with their parents for the completion of their program.
I had a lot of fun with the girls and the counselors. They had to a survey about their week, and I had a glance at one of their papers, and I was listed as her favorite leader. It made my day, to be a part of someone’s life. A few of the girls have my email address, and I am hoping that I will hear their success story one day.
Camp GLOW is a great program, and I was happy to see its success in Tonga.