Katie Smith, a mother of three, recognizes the importance of this fragile time in girls’ lives. Beehives are “at such an integral time in their lives,” she says. “Their self esteem is affected so much at this time and they are already making decisions that can create the direction they will take during their teenage years and, possibly, their lives.”
With her experience working at the Academy for Girls, as well as in a middle and high school, Marisa Brown “saw the need for our young people to be given support to know that it is okay to be righteous and to do what is right.”
So, during the summer of 2005, Retreat for Girls was held for the first time for forty participants. Putting everything together, Marisa was driven by the saying, “If you build it, they will come.” And they did. Counselors who’d previously worked at Academy for Girls and Especially for Youth volunteered in order to alleviate the financial burden on the directors. “This was an amazing sacrifice for them,” Katie says, “but an experience that they gained so much from.”
One such counselor, Randa Despain, decided to be a counselor for Retreat because of her experiences with influential counselors at Academy for Girls and EFY. She explains, “I just remember thinking how amazing my counselors were and how I wanted to be just like them.” Randa describes her experience strengthening the participants’ relationships with Heavenly Father as “more rewarding than [she] could have ever imagined.”
Although she wasn’t able to attend last year’s camp, after giving birth just days before it started, directing Retreat for Girls had a profound influence on Marisa. “I find myself thinking more about my two young daughters and what I need to teach them so that they will be strong daughters of God,” she says. “It has taught me about faith and miracles as well, and that the Lord will support us and sustain us.”
During their weeklong stay at Utah State University in Logan, Utah, participants enjoy classes with influential speakers and counselors, outdoor games and barbeque, crafts, a service project, movie night, a counselor fashion show, nightly devotionals, and a closing social on Friday night for parents and friends.
Trudy Barrett tragically died in a car accident shortly after 2005’s Retreat for Girls. Two participants, Laura Newton and Katelyne Petersen, made and sold crafts with their mothers in order to contribute a Retreat For Girls scholarship in Trudy’s name. Laura expressed that attending the camp “helped [her] make better choices in [her] life.”
This year, Retreat for Girls is being held from July 31–August 4 in Logan, Utah. For more information about the conference, speakers, registration for participants, and applications for counselors, visit their website at retreatforgirls.com or email the directors at firstname.lastname@example.org.