GSSEM is bringing back traditional resident camp with our all…
Area Girl Scouts recently had a unique—and fun—camping experience Sept. 17-19 with local professional women at GSSEM’s Camp CEO event. The annual camp paired 26 older Girl Scouts with adult mentors at Camp Hawthorn Hollow to help them discover, connect, and take action—the keys to leadership.
Back in 2019, the first annual Camp CEO was met with a world of anticipation and excitement from both the mentors and mentees. Maraiah D., of Detroit, was among that group. Only 13 at the time, she was unsure of what exactly her career aspirations were, but in true Girl Scout fashion, she knew that she wanted to be of service to others. Her mentor for the weekend was Tinesha Cherry—a renowned author, poet and international speaker—who not only uplifted Maraiah, but made her feel empowered to be whatever she set her mind to.
Maraiah’s Camp CEO success story mirrors the 20 other girls who came up to camp that weekend, so when the opportunity presented itself to finally bring Camp CEO back, girls and mentors alike packed their belongings and headed back to Camp Hawthorn Hollow to continue the (new) weekend tradition.
“Having to cancel Camp CEO last year due to the pandemic was incredibly disappointing, but this year we came back stronger than ever,” said Tiffiny Griffin, GSSEM’s Deputy Chief Program Officer. “We had some of Metro Detroit’s finest, most influential women come and spend time with the girls. Something they’ll probably never forget.”
Telva McGruder, a lifetime member of Girl Scouts, chair of the board of GSSEM and chief, equity and inclusion officer at General Motors joined the group of mentors this year. Her wealth of knowledge, and ambitious persona made a great addition to the team of mentors. For her, it wasn’t strictly about career choices and business, but rather being a vessel of wisdom and experience for her mentees to learn from.
“I just want to be here for my mentees whatever they need me to be,” said Telva. “That is my goal. I don’t want to be too prescriptive about it but I want to make it an awesome day for them.”
Another mentor, Colette Douglas, president and CEO of Elite Customer Service, shared the same sentiment.
“I am hoping to really serve as a coach,” she said. “Sometimes we get to the point where need to redefine certain words and I think mentor is one of them. I believe you become a mentor after you get to know a person and their personality, and their weaknesses and their strengths. And that’s where the coaching comes in terms of my strengths and how I can encourage and explain certain things to these girls on their level to conceptualize in the world of leadership and what I do.”
Throughout the weekend, girls participated in several activities including yoga, a diversity, equity, and inclusion workshop, a night scavenger hunt/hike, team-building challenges, and a vision board & affirmation session. First-year Camp CEO attendee, Madalynne H, from Clinton Twp, came to camp knowing she wanted to be an engineer, but still looked forward to meeting successful women to further hone in on her leadership skills and aspirations.
“It was a great opportunity to meet all these mentors. If I weren’t in Girl Scouts, I wouldn’t have these types of learning experiences. Without Girl Scouts, I’d probably be clueless about what I wanted to do in the future.”Madalynne H, Clinton Twp
Sanaiah W, of Warren, was also among the group of mentees. An aspiring veterinarian excited to be back for her second year of Camp CEO, she said her favorite part of her first year was spending time with her mentor, sister Girls Scouts, and the team-building activities. This year was no different.
“I was so happy to be back at camp again,” she said. “I can’t wait to see who my mentor will be and learn all about them.”
Due to new safety protocols, Camp CEO had to scale down a bit this year, but more than a dozen professional women came out to serve as mentors.
The following professional women made Camp CEO possible:
- Carol Zuniga – CEO of Hegira Health
- Collette Douglas – CEO of Elite Customer Service
- Corinne Diemert – Human Resources Director for Valeo North America
- Destany Parker – Airline Pilot
- Diane Cromwell – Senior Vice President and Senior Credit Officer for Citizens Bank
- Elizabeth Russell – Detroit Center Coordinator for Grand Valley State University
- Erika Swilley – Vice President of Community and Social Responsibility at the Detroit Pistons
- Dr. Erin Hamanishi – Pediatrician
- Jo Arnold Robinson – City of Detroit Water and Sewerage Controller of Financial Reporting and Accounting
- Mia McNeil – GSSEM Board Member and Director of Government and Community Relations at U of M – Flint
- Rachel Kennedy – Entrepreneur and Business Owner
- Sara Porosky – Operations Manager at Thetford Corporation
- Telva McGruder – GSSEM Board Chair and Chief of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer at GM
- Tinesha Cherry – Author, Poet, and International Speaker
It’s safe to say that Camp CEO will remain a staple in GSSEM programming.
If you’re interested in getting involved in our Camp CEO program, please email Tiffiny Griffin, GSSEM’s Deputy Chief Program Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.