A Summer Retreat Experience for Girls!
The ancestral spirit of Sister Nannie Helen Burroughs whispered, “Return me to my relevance,” in the ear of Rev. Mama Kathy English Holt, and the iThings 2 Collard Greens Summer Camp for Girls was born.
This was the camp’s 6th summer serving 50 girls in our community under the umbrella of Arts for Our Children, Inc., at the Davis Center dance studio in northwest Washington, DC. The Davis Center is owned by Beatrice Davis-Williams, who serves as the camp’s administrator.
With its goal of nurturing the whole girl–body, mind, and spirit–the camp’s staff blends old school wisdom and play with new school methods to create a curriculum which engages the girls in performing arts, healing arts and spiritual arts without technology. Thus, the name–iThings 2 Collard Greens–putting down the phones, tablets, and computers and going back to basics.
Mornings at the camp began with breakfast followed by jump ropes, hula hoops, dodge ball and games. Then the collective of girls move into morning circle, which includes meditation, the daily affirmation, altar time and relevant, timely, and healing discussions with Mama Kathy and Mama Cheryl Shumake. The girls then break into smaller groups named in honor of herstorical figures who lived during the time of Ms. Burroughs. The daily schedule also features movement, including yoga taught by Mama Ama Lee, ballet by Sister Imani Bowman and/or African Dance by Mama Valencia Barclift. This year’s program included a special Qi Gong workshop led by Manifest Ra.
Arts and crafts at the “iThings” camp include sewing taught by Mama Frances Coles, knitting with Mama Joyce Pegues and other arts projects led by camp director Mama Cheryl Shumake and the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employees. Dr. Mama Tilli Williams focused on teaching the girls how to manage stress along with information on general health and wellness, and a special cooking class was taught by Brother Mark Weinberger of Healthy Living. Poetry with Mama Dine Watson and music with Mama Free Benjamin rounded out the camp’s arts component.
Baba Urawa Enkamit from Auser Auset offered a presentation on the dangers of radiation emitted by cell phones and how to safely use them. Baba Senghor, as usual, provided constant male support where needed and oversaw the breakfast and lunch program along with Baba Zama Cook.
Keeva Harmon provided the girls with lessons in proper etiquette.
This summer, the girls and staff visited the new Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Railroad Visitor Center where they had an opportunity to see, feel and read much about “Minty’s” experience growing up on a slave plantation before she stole away to freedom. The little ones were amazed at how one little woman could return so many times to free others–a beautiful teaching moment on faith and determination.
The camp’s closing program at Bridges Academy gave campers an opportunity to demonstrate what they learned to their parents and friends. The songs, dances and recitations, along with their sharing items, made in the handicraft classes were impressive.Tears were shed as they said their goodbyes, which only strengthens Mama Kathy, Mama Cheryl and the camp’s organizers resolve to plan activities for the girls throughout the year so that they can remain connected.