ORLANDO, Fla. – What started as a conversation between two moms is now in its eighth year as an organization teaching young girls how to lift up one another.
Tara Marvin is the co-founder of Leadership 4 Girls. She said the revenue-based nonprofit started as a simple dream.
"We talked about how we dreamed of raising our daughters and empowering them to have confidence and build healthy relationships with other girls," Marvin said.
The group holds camp at different Orange County elementary schools, but students from all counties are welcome. Marvin says the camp addresses areas that are not included in a typical school curriculum.
"They're learning confidence. They're learning about eye contact, about a strong handshake," she said.
The younger campers are paired with high school mentors, some of whom return year after year. Darby, 18, is a recent graduate of West Orange High School.
"I just like the experience of maybe the girls who are so different from the rest of the group and the group just invites them in and takes them in and they all share this like same experience. Every year it happens and it's just great," Darby said.
High school mentors lead the students in role-playing and games, all with a common theme of inclusion. Exercises teach lessons like the importance of tone of voice and how to stop gossip.
"Anyone who has a daughter knows girls can go through some challenging times with their friends. There's a lot of peer pressure, there's gossip. There's bullying," Marvin said.
Sydney, 11, said she first attended camp about five years ago.
"I was a little nervous, but after the first day I was really excited because I met a lot of new friends, some of them I still know to this day," she said.
As the children get older, they can become mentors in training, like 13-year old Rylee. She says the job is fun, but has some challenges.
"I would say teaching them to play games because they're a little bit crazy," Rylee said.
Marvin says this year is special because the original campers who started in 2010 as first graders, are now middle school students. She says the organization does offer some scholarships.
For more on how your daughter can get involved with Leadership 4 Girls, head to www.leadership4girls.org.