I’m Miranda, a former intern for the GUTS! program here at YWCA Missoula. I had the pleasure of volunteering on the GUTS! Summer Adventure to Wild Horse Island a few weeks ago. I had never been to Wild Horse Island before, so I was just as thrilled as the girls were to get off that boat and discover this historical island!
GUTS! trips are set up to give girls in our community the opportunity to learn new skills, utilize their strengths and explore Montana. However, this trip was also a life-changing one for me! It was so rewarding getting to develop relationships with each one of the girls as well as the leaders. Whether it was sleeping out on the dock, watching our Program Manager try to do a headstand on a paddleboard, or walking down the “catwalk” (also known as the dock) in our Inner Beauty Fashion Show – which consisted of writing our personal strengths on body parts that we may not be so confident about, and then strutting our stuff while being cheered on by the others – my motivation and inspiration for life was rejuvenated thanks to a group of 16 strong and unique girls and women.
One of the activities that we organized for the girls was a Team Challenge Course, where these 11- to 13-year-old girls got to put their strengths to use while working as a team. The last challenge they faced was to build a raft out of the driftwood from the beach and rope we provided and navigate to the end of the bay to retrieve their prize (a box of cookies that one of the leaders had planted there.) My GUTS! girls had more survival skills than those people on the TV show “Survivor”! I am confident that we have a group of strong, independent, charismatic, and inspiring young girls on our hands, hopefully serving as role models for their peers around the community.
Throughout the trip, I kept wishing that the community I grew up in had a program like GUTS!. It would have made adolescence a lot easier and exciting to go through, that’s for sure! At the end of our trip, we encouraged the girls to write affirmations about one another, including the leaders – an activity we refer to as “Fill your cup.” Sitting around the campfire expressing what we appreciated about one another was a really moving experience for me. I now have a piece of paper filled with comments from our lovely bunch to remind myself of my positive intrinsic qualities that will ALWAYS pick me up when I start to question myself!
Posted by Miranda, YWCA Missoula Ada’s Place AmeriCorps VISTA