Girls Overnight Leadership Development

Sidney just started sleeping eight hours in a row.  Eight hours!  And yet we both gave that up for a full night up (Well, I was up the whole night…she was up in parts…).  Why?  What could possibly compel a mother of an infant to sacrifice a whole night of sleep?

In a word, GOLD.

GOLD stands for Girls Overnight Leadership Development, and it is a program I have been a part of on and off since I was in eighth grade.  The event involves preparing eighth grade girls for the social and mental and physical transitions they make when they enter high school in a fun and engaging girls’ only atmosphere.  The night is part presentations, part sleepover, and all about developing strong young women.  This year, two amazing seniors at Oak Hall School planned the night, while I supervised from afar.  Then this past weekend, the whole crew headed down to Gainesville, Florida for the event and to visit friends in the area.

For the night, we had a terrific cast of junior and senior leaders – and a great group of eighth grade girls who participated in the program.  Our speakers talked about healthy eating habits, drugs and alcohol, self-defense, and empowerment.  I even learned how to handle an attacker based on his weapon and position!  Many thanks to all the people involved who helped to make the night work and go so smoothly.  What a big success this year’s program was.  Alex and Caitlyn, your hard work and effort made the night smooth, meaningful, exciting, and fun – our best GOLD at Oak Hall yet!  Well done, ladies.  Well done. GOLD leaders – you rocked it out as discussion leaders, small group leaders, and theme room planners.  Way to go!!  A total group effort.  (And, yes, I miss you already.)

We had more food than we’ve ever had for the night: cake, cupcakes, chips, pizza, club wraps, and more!  But of course, we all needed the constant rush of sugar to keep us going all night.

After the speakers, the eighth graders enjoyed different theme rooms and activities: the rave cave, tie-die, dancing, cookie decorating, friendship bracelets, face-painting and horoscopes, movies, and a photo shoot.  My favorite this year was the spa room, complete with a homemade hand sugar scrub and soothing lemon tea and music.  Sidney enjoyed the cozy atmosphere, too.     .

The final portion of the night involved a panel discussion with the high school girls answering anonymous questions from the eighth graders, Pilates, breakfast, and the chance to share nice remarks about each other.  During this time, Sidney hung out with the girls, and I cleaned like crazy.  Think vacuuming and trip after trip to the dumpster!

By about 7:30, all the girls were gone and the school was transformed back into a school.  But the magic lingered.  It lingers still.  As I told the girls at GOLD, I believe in the program. Having been an eighth grader in a similar program, I still remember the night-long fun I had and how much I learned back then.  The event is powerful for eighth graders and the high school leaders who get the chance to be role models.  It is powerful for me every year, as it reminds me of the lessons I want my daughters to learn and how tough it is to be a girl in our world today.  It is powerful for me because I get to be a part of a team of girls working together to make each other better.

I hope all of the girls had as much fun as I did.  I hope they all got as much out of the night as I did.  I hope the program continues to grow and touch the lives of more girls every year.  One of my dreams is to see GOLD expand and take place at more schools.  I hope to see that happen some day.

I am already looking forward to next year!




2 thoughts on “Girls Overnight Leadership Development

  1. Thank you for continuing this evening even though you have moved hundreds of miles away! I know it meant the world to all of the eighth grade girls, but also to the junior and senior girls who were able to share the experience with them. I am also glad that my daughter was able to participate in the event as in today’s society young teen girls have way too much reality to deal with. Again, my love and gratitude to you and the girls for taking your time for these young ladies!

  2. Hi, I am a high school creative writing teacher at an arts high school. Because of this, many of our students are extremely passionate, sensitive, and anxious. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to address this on a whole-school level and I think that GOLD might be the ticket. As an eighth-grader in Pittsburgh, PA, I attended GOLD. I remember it fondly and think that it could possibly be adapted to an older audience. Would you be willing to correspond with me? My email is below.

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