Courtney Clark began her journey with Girls. Inc. at the age of 6, attending summer camp every year for eight years. During her time at camp, she learned some important lessons that still resonate with her today at the age of 20. She shares her story of growth and discovery below.
Girls Inc. has been a part of my life for a very long time, and has impacted me in ways that are almost indescribable. I attended summer camp at Girls Inc. for many consecutive summers throughout my childhood, leading on into my teen years, and I’m so fortunate now to work for Girls Inc. I teach the same important programs that were once taught to me; inspiring and strengthening girls all around this city.
When I think back to my many summers spent at Girls Inc., I remember swimming every Friday, talent shows and countless field trips. I also remember all the fantastic programs I participated in: language courses in Spanish and German, self-defense training, poetry writing, even yoga and hip-hop lessons. The list goes on and on, but one program sticks out for me more than all the rest.
It was called Money Smarts. See, during this program, we girls became entrepreneurs of sorts. We broke up into groups and developed a business plan to sell a good or service to the younger girls in the camp and our camp counselors. My business team started to plan what we thought was a million-dollar idea. All the other girls were planning on selling bracelets, painting nails or giving massages — but we thought we had the best idea. As hot as it was in the middle of July, we couldn’t think of anything better than selling slushies, and boy did we make a lot a Girl Bucks that day! Girl Bucks are the official Girls Inc. currency if you were unaware.
I remember what it was like to work on that team; how it felt to create that business plan and execute our creative ideas. I also remember how good it felt when our product sold. I was about 10 then. Well I’m 20 now, and I’m a senior at IUPUI majoring in Finance through the Kelley School of Business with a minor in Public and Nonprofit Financial Management. Long story short, I love finance, and I love business. I didn’t know it then at 10, but I see now that Girls Inc. planted a seed for me to cultivate and grow then, to help me find my place in the world right now.
My love for business is not the only lesson I learned from Girls Inc. When I had to start taking speech classes in school, I knew the proper way to debate because of Girls Inc. And when I was 15 and my acne was uncontrollable, puberty was getting the best of me and I didn’t like myself, I remembered from our workshops on self-esteem that I was strong, smart and bold; that I was beautiful no matter what.
Now when I go to a school to teach, there are so many days where I leave the girls and wonder, “Did they learn more from me today, or did I learn more from them?” Through their amazing programs, Girls Inc. gave me the foundation I needed to develop into a great student, friend, woman, mentor and member of society in general. Girls Inc. has been helping me grow since I was 6 years old, and is still helping me grow now.
Courtney has worked for Girls Inc. for over a year now as a Seasonal Program Specialist. Her experiences during summer camp molded her into the person she is today. You can help young girls just like Courtney discover their passions by advocating, donating or volunteering for Girls Inc. and similar programs that support the growth, development and career pursuits of young girls in our community.