Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2017 – Shaping the Self Esteem of Young Girls

Name: Bria Lynn Nelson
From: Kennesaw , Georgia
Grade: Freshman/ First Year College Student
School: Kennesaw State University
Votes: 5

Shaping the Self Esteem of Young Girls

Since the summer of 2015 I have served as a camp counselor with a
non-profit girl’s camp for young ladies between the ages of 11 and
16 called Kamp Kizzy. Kamp Kizzy is hosted by actress Keshia Knight
Pulliam every summer during the month of July. I do a lot of other
community service projects throughout the year like going to downtown
Atlanta to feed the homeless, and going to clothing donation stores
to package clothes for foster children in need; but out of all the
community service I do, Kamp Kizzy has been the most memorable, and I
will always hold it very close to my heart.

When I was in high school I attended Kamp Kizzy as a camper. I was very
shy and insecure about myself. I thought I wasn’t pretty, I
thought I didn’t deserve to be in the spotlight, and I felt like I
was just never good enough for the things that I want; but after
having attended Kamp Kizzy for four years I saw myself change in ways
that I never thought I could. Ms. Keshia really helped me find my
voice and helped me figure who I want to be in; and after four years
of being motivated and groomed by my counselors at the time, I knew
that I wanted to have that type of effect on other young ladies.

Ms. Keshia is such an amazing woman that works to make sure Kamp Kizzy is
special in its own way every year. Each summer the location of the
camp changes (one year we were at Clark Atlanta University, one year
we stayed at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, and this most recent year
we stayed at a beautiful campsite about three hours outside of
Atlanta); and she always brings in special guests to talk to the
girls about how to build for their futures. Some of the special
guests have been other actors and actresses, fashion designers,
engineers, writers, and a whole host of other things.

Kamp Kizzy lasts approximately six days. The young ladies will check in to wherever the camp’s
location for the summer is (because it changes every year) on a
Tuesday, then they leave to go home that next Sunday; and because it
is an overnight camp as a counselor I am required to be on call and
with the young ladies 24/7 during that six-day period.

Being a camp counselor has been such an enriching experience. As a
counselor, I am responsible for ultimately helping Ms. Keshia with
anything she needs from me. Usually my responsibilities are to make
sure the girls get to and from their workshops safely, help
distribute their meals, make sure they get to their dorms or hotel
rooms when it’s time to go to bed, and ultimately just help make
sure they are all comfortable and having a good time. One of my
favorite things that we do every year at the end of the camp is have
the young ladies make vision boards. I love having the girls do
these vision boards because its really beautiful to see all of the
things these young ladies want to do with their lives and to see how
that week at Kamp Kizzy really fueled their desire to be successful.

Last year I actually got to have my own seminar with the young ladies as a
counselor and that was a very fun experience for me. As a rising
junior at Kennesaw State University I got to talk with the girls
about college life: what to expect, how they needed to be preparing,
and answering any questions they had. I loved getting the
opportunity to talk to them on that type of platform because I love
public speaking and I really love motivating young girls about their

I would say that even though I love being a counselor dearly, it isn’t
always easy. The hardest part about being a counselor for me has
been the nonstop fast-going pace of the camp during those six days.
Ms. Keshia always has a lot planned for the week, and that means that
we are usually running around all day and every day to make sure the
girls have the best experience they possibly can. It can get to be
really tiring and takes a lot of energy out of me, but I honestly
don’t mind it very much because I know how powerful of an effect
Kamp Kizzy is having on these young ladies. Losing a bit of sleep for
a week is a really small price to pay for that.

Of all of the great things about Kamp Kizzy, I think I really get the
biggest satisfaction in watching the girls form lifelong friendships
with one another. At Kamp Kizzy we have girls come from all across
the country. Some from Atlanta, some from New York, some even fly
from as far as California to come to Kamp Kizzy; and I love seeing
that even after the camp is over for the summer the girls still keep
in touch with each other and go visit each other. We had two girls
that met one summer at camp when they were 14 and now they are both
freshman in college at Spelman University where they share a dorm
room with each other and still have an insanely close bond. Even I
as a counselor try to stay in touch with the ladies during the year
by keeping up with them on their social media and checking in on them
every now and again. Kamp Kizzy is a family, and it’s really
amazing how we all love each other and keep in touch with each other
outside of the camp.

More than anything else, being at Kamp Kizzy has really taught me the
importance of nurturing the self-esteem of young girls. I am a firm
believer that words hold a lot of power, and that’s why it is so
important for girls to have someone in their life reminding them that
they are beautiful, reminding them that they are loved, and reminding
them that they deserve everything it is they want to achieve in their
lives. Listening to some of the young ladies talk about their
battles with depression, struggles with suicidal thoughts, and issues
hating themselves breaks my heart and just makes me want to work that
much harder at changing their outlooks on their lives and themselves.

I know that in my future, no matter what, I always want to be a part of
some sort of mentoring program for girls. I plan to always volunteer
with Kamp Kizzy, but I have also ventured out and started
volunteering at dress drives for girls in need of prom dresses or
shoes for their senior proms. I just really want to continue to have
a powerful impact on the lives of young girls because I do believe
that should I come back in 10 or 20 years, they will be able to
honestly say that Kamp Kizzy and everyone who was involved with it
changed their lives for the better.

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