The 44 girls at the Dogwood Terrace Boys and Girls Club on Saturday were quiet and still as they listened to Margaret Westbrook Ellis explain the basics of money management.
By the time the campers at the Sisters Only Club’s Camp Be Your Best broke for lunch, 12-year-old Rachel Washington said, the most important thing she had learned was how to save money.
“I’ve learned about how to save it, and how to have 10 percent in the savings account. If you have $10, 10 percent of that is $1,” she said.
Ellis, who works for Capitol City Bank, was one of the volunteers presenting topics ranging from health to education to healthy relationships.
The camp is in its fourth year and has grown from 20 girls at one day camp in Augusta to 30-40 girls at each of three day camps in Augusta, Aiken and Thomson.
The girls – ages 11 to 18 – are from a variety of backgrounds. Some were recommended from the Department of Juvenile Justice, some were from the community and some were recommended by Sisters Only Club members.
Ashley Fountain, 12, summed up the camp’s mission.
“I think it’s a way of showing young ladies how to grow up into nice young women,” she said.
Her mother works with Cher Best, who founded the Sisters Only Club with her friends. Saturday was Ashley’s second year attending the camp.
She said a lot of people come in and tell the girls what they should and shouldn’t do.
“We definitely want to promote education, healthy image, self-esteem and encourage them to be positive citizens,” said camp co-chairwoman Jameicia Jordan. “It’s important they learn it from women in the community that they might see every day. Some of us are teachers, some of us work at the juvenile centers.”
Camp began at 8 a.m. with breakfast from sponsor McDonald’s and concluded at 5 p.m. with an awards ceremony and dinner.
The day’s activities included yoga and arts and crafts.
The only men allowed were the Rev. Greg Shields, from Old Time Way Church of God in Christ, and the Rev. Patrick Outler, from Carpentersville Baptist Church, who spoke about healthy relationships.
Jordan said the relationships panel was new. Organizers wanted the girls to have positive feedback about what a healthy relationship looks like from a male perspective.
At the end of the day, the girls received a mirror and daily affirmations that Jordan urged them to repeat to themselves in the mirror every day:
“I’m beautiful. I’m smart. I’m going to be successful. I will practice common courtesy and manners.”
The girls also received bookbags and health and hygiene products.
The Sisters Only Club was formed several years ago when a group of friends gathered to watch Oprah Winfrey’s Legends Ball, in which Winfrey honored women in the fields of arts, entertainment and civil rights.
The group of friends grew into a book club, and now it has become a full-blown service organization.
“The thing about the group is, even at the very first meeting, it was a group of women who were innovative, excited, professional go-getters,” Best said.
About 20 Sisters Only Club members volunteered at the camp.