An Interview with Mackenzie and Katie about We Are Girls and campGEN

Mackenzie has participated in We Are Girls Austin and campGEN. She and her mom, Katie, spoke with us about their experiences with GEN. Thank you so much, Mackenzie and Katie!



What do you think is the best part about campGEN?
Personally, I’d say the energy. It’s bold and bright, and there’s a lot of people who spread it around.


What’s your favorite part about the We Are Girls Conference?
I love going to different classes and learning about different things and getting to make different things. One of the classes was a journaling class and I got to design the front of a journal. My mom and I decided that we would write notes in the journal and pass it back and forth. The notes were things you didn’t want to say out loud. So you could write it pass it to her, she could write something and pass it back for you to read. The dance party was fun.


How do you think GEN helps girls?

It helps girls feel more independent. The two weeks of camp I went too helped girls become more Calm, Cool & Creative, and more Strong, Bold, & Assertive.


How do you feel when you attend We Are Girls?

It’s quite fun to go to that conference. I recommended it to some of my friends and my mom recommended it to some of my friends’ parents. And last year actually some of them went. I met them there.


What would you say to girls who are unsure about attending We Are Girls?

I would say that they should think about what they want to do and if they decide that going to this fun, energetic conference is what they want to do, then they can go for it. But if they decide they’re not ready for it this year, they should try again the next year.


What is it like working with GEN staff and We Are Girls leaders?

It’s quite fun. When I was at camp, I made a counselor friend.


What made you feel close to the people at camp?

Well, some of them I could personally relate to. Like some really love books and I could personally relate to that. Some of them I just kind of clicked with. They were nice to me and I was nice to them so we were friends.


Have you ever struggled with something and being a part of camp or We Are Girls helped you?

At the time I went to the last We Are Girls Conference, my parents were getting divorced and so going kind of helped me feel a little bit better because some of them were going through the same situation and some of them weren’t, but were comforting.


What are other parts of GEN that you’ve enjoyed?

I’ve really enjoyed doing the projects that could be serious and also projects that got you moving and laughing and dancing.


What’s the take-away from We Are Girls or camp?

A new understanding of life, like that you can do anything.


How has We Are Girls and camp changed you? How has it affected your life?

I would call it one of my favorite camps of the entire summer. It kind of just makes you want to go back again and again and again. We Are Girls is kind of the same – it’s the energy and the fun and the creativity that makes you want to come back again and again and again until you can’t come back or you try and apply for a job there and you get hired to help work there.




What do you like most about Mackenzie being involved with Girls Empowerment Network?

We have attended the conference the last couple years and she has just loved it, so this was the first time that she got to go to the camp. And the topics that you all had could not have been more timely, in that I felt like she really enjoyed the camps and learned a lot. And I felt like the stuff that you guys were teaching the girls there she really needs at this point in her life and she’s really putting into practical, everyday use. It’s been a fantastic experience – for her and with the stuff she’s brought home, for us as a family honestly.


How has it helped you all as a family?

So the Calm, Cool & Creative camp — so Mackenzie’s gone through some family changes over the last year or so in that her dad and I have been going through a divorce. And it’s been stressful on everybody of course, but the strategies that she learned at that camp just around remaining calm and learning to talk about her feelings have been really helpful for her.


Why are GEN programs important? Why do you enroll Mackenzie?

The topics you all cover are really applicable and I also like the fact that it’s a really diverse group of girls – both in terms of age and from all over the community of Austin. So she met some incredible girls there and she loved the counselors. And she doesn’t necessarily get that kind of experience in other camps around town, so I was super impressed with what you guys did.


What would be your advice for other parents who are considering getting their daughter involved with Girls Empowerment Network?

My advice would be to reach out to other parents who have had that experience campGEN or with other GEN programs, just cause we’re a good referral network. Because until you experience it yourself – going through the conferences or attending the camps, you don’t really realize how powerful it is, so I’d say talk to other parents who sent their girls and learn about what’s worked for them. I think when you do something like that, it kind of sells itself.


What would you say to someone who is considering scholarship-ing a girl to the We Are Girls Conference?

I think that if I was talking to someone who was considering doing a scholarship, it’s such an incredible way to give back to the community and to empower girls to be powerful, successful individuals. I mean you just look at the girls you all had as counselors and you know they’re all great examples for the girls.


How have you seen Mackenzie change or be impacted by her time in GEN programs?

When we’ve attended conferences, she’s always come away super pumped up after those experiences. She brings that enthusiasm back to school and to the family. She got to do two weeks of camp this summer and just a ton of those skills I can see her using them. She’s got her box from Calm, Cool & Creative in her room and she’s got her little water thing that she can use when she gets stressed out, she’s got her stress doll, her journal, so there’s a lot of the tools that you guys are giving her that I can see she’s putting into use. Which can only benefit her. Those are skills I think all of us can use. So it’s not a bad thing to teach it early on for sure.


Would you like to contribute to We Are Girls Austin to support empowering young girls like Mackenzie? Click here to scholarship a girl now!

P.S. Are you a Houstonian? We Are Girls Houston takes place Saturday, April 28, 2018!

Felicia Gonzalez