Girls with Altitude

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Girls with Altitude (GWA) is a sisterhood that empowers 6th–8th graders to build community and gain valuable leadership skills. This outdoor after-school program creates a safe and welcoming environment for girls to be themselves, explore Hale’s unique wilderness setting, and realize their potential. GWA offers a variety of activities that inspire girls to challenge themselves. The program also provides time and support for girls to complete homework.

Who We Serve

Girls with Altitude serves students from Westwood, Dover, Dedham, Norwood, and Needham. Hale offers transportation on a first-come, first-served basis to Thurston and Coakley Middle School students, but we encourage parents to provide transportation whenever possible. GWA is based at the Trading Post, roughly 0.7 miles from Hale’s Main Entrance at 80 Carby Street, Westwood MA. Pick-up occurs between 5:30 PM and 6 PM.

A Typical Day

Activities include teambuilding challenges, low and high ropes, outdoor living skills, archery, hiking and navigation, group games, sports, cooking, arts and crafts, photography, and more. Here’s a glimpse of a typical day:

  • 2:30-3:00 PM: Arrival, snack, activity preview
  • 3:00-3:30 PM: Energizer and teambuilding challenge
  • 3:30-4:15 PM: Outdoor exploration, challenge, or activity
  • 4:15-5:00 PM: Leadership development activities and discussions
  • 5:00-5:15 PM: Activity debrief, reflection,and positive affirmations
  • 5:15-6:00 PM: Homework time and pick-up

Each afternoon, girls create space to be themselves, share experiences, and develop a supportive network of friends.

An outdoor program? In the winter?

Winters in New England may be unpredictable, but GWA takes advantage of the outdoors regardless of the weather! Preparedness, be it for school or the elements, is a key lesson we teach our girls. Weather-appropriate gear allows us to safely participate in activities that include hiking, climbing, archery, shelter-building, sledding, and snowshoeing. On especially cold days, we might head inside for arts and crafts, cooking, STEM challenges, and teambuilding activities.

Session Topics (Fall 2018)

Each session of GWA is grounded in a specific theme. This fall, we’ll focus on community. Discussions and activities will help girls think critically about what makes a strong community and practice the teamwork and leadership skills necessary to build their own.

Sept. 28—Community Day (Free Open House)

Get to know the GWA team and explore Hale during this Amazing Race-style adventure. We’ll use clues and maps to navigate the trails and pond as we play games and complete challenges along the way. If you aren’t ready to register for our fall season but would like to attend this free open house, please email Emily.

Oct. 5—Defining Community

Most of us identify with many communities in all aspects of our lives, but what does that mean? Each GWA cohort establishes its own community identity and values. Today we’ll discuss different types of communities, how they are formed, and how they affect our lives every day.

Oct. 12—Developing Support Systems

Healthy communities strengthen and support their members, and there’s no better way to bring everyone together than a campout at Hale! We’ll work together to set up a campsite, cook our own meals, and complete a variety of games and initiatives. We’ll also discuss the ways in which communities impact our confidence and self-esteem and learn to cope with challenging influences.

Oct. 19—Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses

Everyone brings different talents and abilities to a team. We use various leadership models to identify our individual strengths and discuss how these can be used to positively impact our communities. We’ll test our teamwork skills in a variety of field games.

Oct. 26—Leading a Team

What makes a good leader? Girls will identify the leaders in their communities and discuss the impact they make on the people they work with. Activities will include an introduction to outdoor skills such as orienteering or archery.

Nov. 2—Managing Conflict

We’ll discuss the conflicts we face in our communities, from challenging group projects to difficult cast dynamics in school plays. Groups will brainstorm solutions and role-play conflict resolution scenarios. Today’s activity, Shipwreck, is a favorite at Hale: it’s an intensive team challenge that focuses on outdoor living skills.

Nov. 9—Setting Goals and Creating Change

Everyone is capable of creating change in their communities. We’ll discuss general goal-setting strategies for individual improvement and community development. To end on a high note, we’ll tackle a high ropes element on the challenge course!

Session Topics (Winter 2019)

This winter we’ll engage in personal reflection and begin leadership development. Girls will critically explore what inspires, challenges, frustrates, and motivates them. They’ll use this deeper understanding of themselves to build the self-esteem and resiliency young leaders need.

Jan. 4—Leadership Meet & Greet (Free Open House)

Get to know the GWA team and meet other female leaders in the Hale community. Learn how they’ve overcome challenges to achieve success in their careers and lives. Girls will begin building vision boards will guide their leadership journeys throughout the winter and beyond. If you aren’t ready to register for our winter season but would like to attend this free open house, please email Emily.

Jan. 11—Understanding Identity

Who am I? We all have a different way of defining our personal identity and values, and it doesn’t have to be the way the world defines us. We’ll discuss the many aspects of our lives that form identity and reflect on the unique qualities that make each of us strong.

Jan. 18—Developing Your Leadership Style

How do I lead? Many people think leaders are the loudest and most popular people in the room, but there’s more than one way to lead. By identifying the personal values and experiences that shape their lives, girls will discover the unique potential they have to lead in their own way.

Jan. 25—Defining Success

What does it mean to be successful? We all want to be successful, but what does it mean to succeed? Success can seem elusive when media and social influences make us question our progress and worth. We’ll break those messages down, figure out what success means to each of us, and set personal goals to help us achieve it.

Feb. 1—Coping with Challenges and Managing Stress

How can I do all of this? Physical, emotional, and mental wellness are necessary for leaders, but they can be hard to maintain when we feel burdened by homework, aggravated by casting decisions, or trying to manage gossip. Girls will learn coping mechanisms and stress management techniques so they’re ready to face challenges as leaders.

Feb. 8—Leading Followers, Following Leaders

How do I work with others? No one leads in a vacuum (and sometimes effective leaders are actually followers)! Leaders rely on face-to-face communication and problem-solving skills to encourage and influence their teams. Girls will learn how tone, context, and word choice can positively influence their communication. We’ll also role-play scenarios that require advanced teamwork skills.

Feb. 15—Leading the Way

What inspires me to be a confident leader?  When we’re inevitably overwhelmed and begin to feel helpless, it’s important to remember why we strive to be leaders at all. We’ll identify internal and external motivators and learn how to avoid becoming discouraged in light of setbacks. Girls will reaffirm their personal goals and commit to helping one another achieve them beyond the scope of GWA.

It’s the last day of Girls with Altitude, and I feel proud for being me and our group for being us! Self-defense, high ropes, media talk…it’s been a fun journey, and I’m proud that I made it!

Rates and Dates

Please enroll using our online registration system.

We encourage enrollment for an entire season since sessions build on one another and consistency makes for a stronger community. However, if you are unavailable for the entire season, you are welcome to join us for up to three individual sessions. An individual session is $50 with transportation or $45 without transportation. Contact Emily to register for an individual session.

Fall 2018

Our Fall 2018 season includes 7 sessions every Friday between Sept. 28 and Nov. 9:

  • $275 with transportation
  • $250 without transportation

Winter 2019

Our Winter 2019 season includes 7 sessions every Friday between Jan. 4 and Feb. 15:

  • $275 with transportation (wait list only)
  • $250 without transportation (a few spots remain)