‘The Building of a Sisterhood’: Camp LiveGirl Marks 10 Years

For 10 years, a local camp has been providing girls in grades five through eight the chance to become “confident, inclusive leaders.”

LiveGirl’s summer camp is designed to bring leadership development and mentoring skills to girls of all ages. 

While after-school groups such as “Confidence Club” or “LiveGirl League” give girls and young women opportunities to embrace their individuality, advocate for themselves, and develop resilience in the face of challenges, “Camp LiveGirl” fills a gap in the summer. Camp LiveGirl Program Director Shamare Holmes said, “We wanted to make sure that during the summer we don’t lose sight of what our girls need.”

What they need is increasingly important given rising rates among young girls of multiple mental and emotional health problems, such as depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation, experts say. And Camp LiveGirl addresses those issues head-on. In middle school, many girls experience a drop in confidence, their self-esteem reaching all-time lows. For that reason, LiveGirl—founded by New Canaan’s Sheri West, CEO—starts working with them during this period, encouraging them to build resilience and develop their strengths while connecting them with a support system. 

“When you’re in middle school it’s an awkward time so LiveGirl provides that added support to teachers, parents, guidance counselors,” Holmes said.

‘Shine On’: New Canaan Mother-Daughter Found Scholarship Program at LiveGirl

Libby O’Hare, a 2016 New Canaan High School graduate, truly discovered local nonprofit organization LiveGirl through her mother, Claire. 

Owner of her own fine handmade jewelry business based in New Canaan, Claire O’Hare had sponsored one of the organization’s annual “Impact Scholarships” through the business. And even after she sold the company, Claire O’Hare continued to support the scholarship program. Then last year, inspired by the work of LiveGirl and the young women involved in the organization, Claire O’Hare brought her older daughter in to learn more about it. For Libby O’Hare, who lives and works in New York City for Meta, what followed made an indelible impression. She attended a LiveGirl Impact Scholarship awards event with a friend and fellow Bucknell University graduate. 

“And then when my mom left the awards ceremony and she was like, ‘I want to do more and I want to do this together,’ it was just a perfect opportunity to tap into my network and ask if they wanted to be involved,” Libby O’Hare recalled. “And it just shaped really organically.”

What they developed—working with LiveGirl founder, CEO and Chairwoman Sheri West— was the “Shine On Women’s Giving Circle.” Led by an executive committee headed by Libby O’Hare and populated with her own friends from New Canaan and college, the Giving Circle raises funds for scholarships that support talented and historically underrepresented young women.

Op-Ed: I Am Rising

In their tween and teenage years, girls become dramatically less self-assured, their confidence plummets, and feelings of insecurity dictate their everyday lives. The adolescent drive for acceptance, the way we socialize women, and the double standards we hold have compounded the negative peer pressure on girls that causes many to question their body, their intelligence, and their worth. By the age of 14, the average girl is much less confident than the average boy. However, this feeling isn’t just temporary for some women. Confidence is essential for turning thoughts and feelings into action, and when the confidence gap that opens during puberty remains during adulthood, it harms women as they enter the workforce.