Marsha Ferber Memorial Fund
High Rocks: War, West Virginia High Rocks is an award-winning leadership program for young women ages 13-25. They work with girls from all walks of life and accept girls from all different tables in the cafeteria. What they have in common is their heart and their deep desire to make the world a better place. The dream of High Rocks is that one day it will become self-sustaining. High Rocks girls will grow up to become staff and board members that run High Rocks for the next generation of women.
Summary: The Junior Counselors are the backbone of New Beginnings Camp. They are the first ones that the campers trust and turn to in times of need and with the leadership of the Junior Counselors the younger girls learn to trust the adult staff at High Rocks. The Junior Counselors are the ones who have the most experience with the struggles of being a new High Rocks camper and they use their experiences to lead a new generation of High Rocks girls into building self-confidence and teaching them that voicing their thoughts and opinions makes a difference.
It was a truly amazing accomplishment that each of the Junior Counselors was able to have a positive effect on the young women they were around every day while also attending a college level class from 9 am until noon, completing homework assignments for that class, helping with lunch clean up, planning, organizing and implementing fun-time and leading the campers in their chores after dinner each night. To push through an exhausting day that is the equivalent of being a college student with a part-time job, the Junior Counselors still made time for the important traditions for the new campers, like mud fights, leading funny skits during campfire, bedtime stories, and making sure that each and every girl at New Beginnings Camp got much needed one-on-one time with her “older sister”.
The Junior Counselors ranged from freshmen in high school to seniors. While a senior might be more prepared for a rigorous schedule such as this one, it was a real challenge for the younger Junior Counselors, but they all stepped up and pushed through their own shortcomings to ensure that the new High Rocks girls had the best experience possible.
Being a Junior Counselor is physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting, the Junior Counselor team learned to work together, leaning on one another and supporting each other to ensure that they were each able to navigate their schedules and responsibilities successfully.
The Junior Counselors had daily meetings where they discussed what challenges they faced and as a group came up with solutions in order to overcome those challenges. When it was necessary, to help them be successful in their role as leaders, students, teachers and facilitators, the Junior Counselors would create a proposal to take to the camp administration team in order to restructure part of their schedule the help camp run more efficiently.
A young woman arrived at High Rocks for the first time nervous about what she had gotten herself into and missing her family before they left. As she loaded her belongings into her cabin, she cried and begged her parents not to go, not to leave her behind. One of the Junior Counselors noticed the despair in the young girls face and immediately recognized it as something she had struggled with in the past. This Junior Counselor asked to take a walk with the young lady. On the long walk, she shared her story of her first High Rocks camp and how she had to overcome the challenge of being away from home for the first time ever.
The Junior Counselor helped the girls realize that she wasn’t the only one with these feelings, and that as a High Rocks girl you have your High Rocks sisters and staff to help you up when you are feeling down. The young woman decided to stay and quickly began to flourish in the activities throughout the days of camp. On the final day, when her parents arrived to take her home, she cried again, only this time she cried because she was happy — happy that she had 20 new sisters, a whole community of High Rocks staff, volunteers and alums, happy she gained experiences that had changed her perspective of the world making it a brighter place and happy that she stayed to became a strong, confident High Rocks girl.
Abby, a sophomore in high school, was hired as a Junior Counselor for the 2014, New Beginnings Camp. Abby was nervous because she was one of the few first time Junior Counselors at this camp and while she was excited to support the campers through their first High Rocks camp, she was not confident in her ability to help those campers navigate the challenges that they would encounter. Abby discovered that she could relate to the girls and help them discover what she did at her New Beginnings Camp; that it is okay to be who you are, no matter who is watching. In her application to be a Junior Counselor at the 2015, New Beginnings Camp, she stated “I can show the girls that when they really let their real self out, the world is different. That even though they are different, doesn’t make them ugly; it makes them ten times prettier.”
A special thank you to everyone who made this project possible by attending the 2013 UNDERGROUND RAILROAD/MARSHA FERBER REUNION MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND!