To The Daily Sun
Some while back Pasquaney Garden Club took another look at continuing to give a $500 scholarship to a senior member of the regional high school. As a small club it takes a lot for us to raise the money. Originally it was for the fields of horticulture or agriculture, but no one was interested in those fields. We opened it to any graduating senior. The guidance department had to practically strong-arm kids to apply. In addition we had no practical way to know that the money was actually going toward college. We decided to re-evaluate our gift giving. This year we selected the Circle Girls Club. On a lovely summer Tuesday a number of Pasquaney Garden Club members went to give the check and get a tour of the premises. By the time we were done the members who went were convinced that, boy, this was a good idea.
The Circle Girls Club is a camp for girls. The camp runs on donations, and provides a life experience, perhaps a lifeline, to the very lowest income girls. Schools, teachers,counseling agencies, doctors and others can recommend a girl as in need of Circle's help. They are all from towns between Concord and the Greater Plymouth area, making them local kids.
The rustic camp is located on Spectacle Pond. Spectacle is a lovely, clean, quiet pond in the mountains, surrounded by deep woods. The structures, lodges, cabins etc,. are simply built, sturdy and attractive. Grades 5 and 6 come for three weeks, 7, 8 and 9 for two and a half weeks, high-schoolers for one week. For many it is an introduction to the idea of the stewardship of the land. They have all the normal camp activities, swimming, boating, etc., but with a real difference. During her stay each girl is matched with a volunteer woman mentor. They will see the mentor each month after the camp ends and the girls are usually expected to come back the next year.
Although many of the post-first-year group are returnees, they still enroll new girls each year. This year there were 21 new girls in the first session. As the girls return to the camp they can assume responsibilities there. Even some of the graduates have returned as counselors during their college years. Understand that this is largely not an area that abounds in opportunities for personal advancement, and these kids have no resources. Circle Girls Club teach the girls that they can achieve worthwhile things. No, there are no make-believe achievements. I was happy to hear that they are part of the STEM program — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Women successful in those fields come and talk to the girls and to work with them.
Example: They got a grant for solar power. A group of 15 girls in grades 9, 10, and 11, studied solar energy, taking day classes on Saturdays at a college for three or four Saturdays, plus other solar studies. Lastly, under the direction of a certified solar installer, the girls wired the cabins with the solar panels. Do those girls feel that they really did something? You bet they do. And they did! The cabins had no power before that. Now, even when the grid fails, they do have power.
It has become an asset in learning decision-making as well. There is a wall display of the power in the battery. When the power goes off the girls in each cabin have to decide how much and how they will use the battery power. A number of Circle Girls graduates are in college. At least one in camp is planning a career as an electrician. Others are looking at engineering. Yes, the girls are learning skills. In addition to the usual things taught in camp, they are introduced to those that are still not normally taught to girls.
Another example: They learned the use of power tools to build barn board furniture which will raise money at an auction. Obviously Circle Girls Club values education, but these girls are receiving a broad education that will give them options. College is one. Other options may require time, study and effort as in the skilled trades apprenticeships, but they will provide jobs that can earn good money. Even more importantly, get them out of the dependency route. A woman who can earn a good living has a lot better chance at a good life. All of these girls will have been given a good strong base. They know that they have abilities. They have value. They can set and achieve their goals. We were wishing we had more to give the program. They've got a really good idea.
Cat White, Member
Pasquaney Garden Club