Rosie’s Girls in the Third Space
We all know a ‘summer camp person.’ (That’s me! I’m a summer camp person!) For 20 years, Rosie’s Girls has been envisioned, spearheaded, and attended by summer camp people. While I will continue to count down the days until friendship bracelets and sprinkler parties, Vermont Works for Women and the Rosie’s Girls team are re-defining ourselves as ‘third space people.’ Rosie’s Girls will now be continuous, year-round programming through our newly launched Rosie’s Girls Afterschool program.
At the heart of this expansion is the realization that Rosie’s Girls is more than just a really (and I mean really) fun summer camp. Rosie’s Girls is a program that builds grit, connection, and a sense of expanded possibilities through the pairing of hands-on, career exploration activities or projects, with a data driven and informed social and emotional skill development curriculum. We realized that for an hour or so after school, for anywhere from a few weeks to half the year, we could be working towards the same outcomes that our highly revered summer camp achieves.
As expected, there were obstacles. Among these were – ‘how do we keep snack away from the projects?’ ‘We’re cancelling because of ANOTHER SNOW DAY?’ And, with a shout out to all the incredibly busy middle schoolers out there, ‘you can’t be busy every day after school!’ But, with the support of dedicated afterschool staff and teachers, as well as the generous support of funders, we will have run SEVEN Rosie’s Girls afterschool programs by the end of this school year, accessing more youth than ever before.
The ‘third space’ is anytime that youth spend outside of their homes or school – this includes extra-curricular activities, youth centers, afterschool programs, and summer camps. The third space is significant in that it’s where youth are in charge and where they begin to access people, tools, and resources to help them form the person they want to become. By expanding our Rosie’s Girls program in the third space, we hope to be a place where young girls and gender non-conforming youth feel they can come to have freedom and support in tinkering with new materials and ideas, engaging with peers in a meaningful way, and proving to themselves that they’re more capable than they ever thought.
-Nell Carpenter, Youth Program Manager